Le Casematte

Location: Faro Superiore, Province of Messina, Sicily, Italy

Le Casematte was founded in 2008 by Gianfranco Sabbatino and Andrea Barzagli, in Faro Superiore near Messina, Sicily. The duo is infectiously enthusiastic about all things Sicilian – but especially Sicilian wine. The winery’s flagship wine is Faro DOC, a tiny often-overlooked 100% native appellation from the hills overlooking the Strait of Messina. Today the winery has 35 acres under vine.


  • A boutique winery, focused on quality terroir-true wines with a great sense of place
  • The entire Faro DOC covers only 50 acres yet it is an extraordinary Sicilian appellation backed by centuries of history
  • Hand-cultivated, hand-harvested, sustainable vineyard practices
  • Proximity to the sea keeps vineyards cool and fends off rot and disease, while diurnal temperature changes lead to even ripening and a well-developed aromatic profile
  • Renowned winemaker Carlo Ferrini consults on all things enological


While a young winery by Old World standards, Gianfranco has years of experience in the wine business, venturing out on his own with partner and ex-soccer player Andrea Barzagli in 2008. The pair opened their winery high atop the Strait of Messina, in Faro Superiore, where the hillsides can have a gradient of up to 70%. The winery’s name comes from two casematte or casemates (a.k.a. pillboxes) from World War II, which served as observatories and defensive structures at that time. Today, the casemates watch over the largest vineyard, which is five acres in size.

Faro DOC received this official status on December 3, 1976. The local wine, however, is ancient – the name itself comes from an old Greek population, the Pharii, who settled in this spectacular nook of the Mediterranean and grew grapes as far back as the 14th century B.C. Not only is Faro one of the world’s most ancient wine areas, but it is also one of the tiniest appellations in Italy.

It is located in the district of Messina, on the breathtaking Messinesi Hills wedged between two seas – the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian, joined by the Strait of Messina. Faro DOC is made exclusively from indigenous varieties that find their ideal home here in the Messinese soil, ranging from dark, compact, and slightly acidic at the higher altitudes and alluvial towards the coast.


Le Casematte’s total surface under vine is about 35 acres at an altitude between 820 and 1,215 feet above sea level. Pristine and remote, these vineyards benefit from the constant sea breezes of the Strait of Messina, notably the Sirocco wind during summer. Large temperature swings give the wines excellent aromatic qualities and a freshness running through the whole range.

The soils are a mix of sandy, calcareous, and clayey soils that, when combined with the microclimate and location of the vineyards, give these wines fantastic elegance, distinctive balance, and great harmony.

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