San Polino is an organic estate winery in Località San Polino (within the general Podernovi area) in the Montalcino region, Tuscany, Italy. It produces red wines under the Rosso di Montalcino DOC, the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and the Sant’Antimo Rosso DOC

Owners: Luigi (‘Gigi) Fabbro and Katia Nussbaum bought San Polino in 1991.They met in Swayambhu Nepal in 1979. Their sons are Daniel and Giulio. The land was virgin, and had just 1.5-ha (3.7 acres) of olive trees. They started off by making olive oil. Katia Nussbaum was born in London, and is English by birth. She studied and took her degree in Social Anthropology before coming to live in Montalcino in 1985. Katia was a full-time teacher at the time. Luigi Fabbro Gigi grew up in Friuli helping his father make wine. Gigi has developed computer software, written a book on the tuning of the ancient Burmese harp, taught himself Sanskrit and is involved in a project mapping biodiversity in the Amazon, for which he has written several papers and presented at the IFOAM Organic World Congress in 2008. Katia told me “Felini chose Luigi as Caligula in ‘Roma‘. A great story there.”

Vineyards: 7ha. Both by the winery (robust) and in the Fuligni (lighter) area. 5,000 plants per hectare 250 cm x 80 cm. Trellis: 1st wire 70cm, 2nd wire 110cm, 3rd wire 180cm. Spurred Cordon 4 spurs per plant, two shoot per spur. Rootstocks: 420A, 779P, 161-49. Sangiovese Clones R24, CH21, F9.

Soils: A mix of colours in the soil.

Biodynamics: 2019 Member of Renaissance des Appellations. Luigi Fabbro says that ‘since 2005 we have not used any sulfur in the vineyard to combat powdery mildew (or oidium). We use minimal amounts of sulfur dioxide in the winery and minimal amounts of copper sulphate to combat downy mildew. We use Ampelomyces quisqualis against powdery mildew (oidium) and Bacillus subtilis against the ignoble form of botrytis cinerea. We found that it is important for their successful use that there is a window of at least 4 hours with relative humidity of at least 65%. That means spraying in the depth of night. In 2009 we started experimenting with compost tea sprays to combat the above two pathologies with encouraging results.’ In its profile for Millésime Bio 2021 the estate said it practiced ‘modern biodynamics: vine communication networks and relations between vines and forest as viti-forestry; vineyard and winery micro-ecology management.’

Organic certification: 2001 First vintage with full organic certification.

Winery: The winery at Podernovi is mostly underground, fitting easily into the surrounding landscape. It uses a sophisticated thermo-hydraulic system which ensures that the temperature and humidity of the winery are controlled in a natural way. All lots are kept apart from fermentation to bottling.

WinemakingWinemaking follows AIAB (Associazione Italiana Agricoltura Biologica) norms for organic winemaking. Luigi Fabbro says that ‘We ferment the wines naturally using neither selected yeasts, nor yeast nutrients, enzymes or any other additive apart from sulphur dioxide. For this purpose I believe that the ecosystem of the indigenous yeast and other micro-organisms on the grape bunches must be disrupted as little as possible from its natural equilibrium.’ The grapes ferment in Slavonian oak vats and stainless steel ISO A316. Delestage and batonage. The wines are racked off the skins before the cap falls. Racking is done by gravity or via nitrogen to force the flow of wine from one container into the other. The new wine is held at 21°C in order to complete its malolactic fermentation with the fine lees in suspension. The aim is to avoid making the wines wait until spring for MLF to complete. 

Wine making and wine stocking under temperature control. Barrels are sourced from Vernou and Radoux. Katia told me (Visit 2020 with Einar) that the wines near the winery had plenty of tannin due to the altitude and this was why they employed a 45-day cuvaison to get depth into the wine.

Red wines

Sant’Antimo Rosso DOC2013 100% Sangiovese. Nice sweet fruit (Anteprima 2015).

Rosso di Montalcino DOCG2001 This was kept in barriques for about 20 months. ‘This worked well for such a muscular wine, but is not a general policy of ours’, Katia Nussbaum told me. Coffee and sherry (Anteprima 2005). | 2002 Green, herbal notes (Anteprima 2005). | 2003 Oaky (Anteprima 2005). Vegan suitable. | 2007 8,000 bottles. Very nice, lovely crisp fruit. Said to be a dream year here, producing forward wines with soft acidity,’ Katia Nussbaum who added the level of oak (wooden vats and barriques) had been toned down (Anteprima 2011). | 2011 3,000 bottles. Nice ripe deep fruit, well made, quite a big style, plum and black fruit (Anteprima 2013). | 2012 5,000 bottles. Sweet fruit, rich berries (Anteprima 2014). | 2013 4,359 bottles. Nice soft fruit, cherry red, mint, nice weight (Anteprima 2015). | 2018 6,00 bottles.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, San Polino: 2001 Vegan suitable. | 2006 Dense, firm tannin, also ripe, nice bramble fruit, concentrated. 4,000 bottles. €40 retail. | 2008 15,000 bottles. Rich, a crowd pleaser (Anteprima 2013). | 2009 10,000 bottles. Oak slightly dominates the fruit (Anteprima 2014). Juicy fruit, nice plump red fruit, good use of oak, good tannin too, intense and savoury (Anteprima 2015). | 2010 9,000 bottles. | 2011 Lovely colour and perfume, lovely weight, very rich and appetising (Anteprima 2016). |  2014 Good depth, richness of fruit and tannin, wild darkish fruit, ripe and savoury needs time to settle, will drink well over the next decade or so I guess (Anteprima 2019). | 2015 8,000 bottles. | 2016 14.5%. Bottled recently. Plenty of depth, some balsam, needs time (Visit 2020 with Einar).

2020 40 quintals per hectare–45 normally, the drop was due to hot winds, and a lack of rain–despite much-needed rain in September. 45 days on skins. Plenty of tannin, 

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva: 2007 4,000 bottles. The fruit is well sunned, dry finish (Anteprima 2015). | 2015 5,000 bottles. Ripe, deep, clear, wild fruits, savoury and open (Visit 2020 with Einar).

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Helichrysum: Named after a wild local plant (see Helichrysum) with yellow flowers whose scent was very strong in the hot 2003 vintage in one plot of vines. Pliny said this plant brought ‘grazia e gloria’. Not a single vineyard wine. From the best plots and lots once fermented. Batonnage to give it depth and softness. | 2006 Lees stirred in part. Nice denseness (Anteprima 2011). 2,000 bottles. €50-60 retail. | 2008 4,000 bottles. Very jammy and raisin-like (Anteprima 2013). | 2009 Very black cherry, plus raspberry vanilla, a touch of over-ripeness perhaps (Anteprima 2014). Rich, very ripe and savoury, cherry and vanilla, good texture, ripe, long, not too sticky (Anteprima 2015). | 2010 3,000 bottles. | 2011 14.5% alc. Really very good, rich, ripe, very clear, delicious, balanced (Anteprima 2016). | 2015 8,000 bottles. | 2016 Ripe, precise, no over-ripeness, deep and savoury with great fruit and depth but with no sense of heaviness, drink now-2035 (Visit 2020 with Einar).



Sales: Alliance wines (UK).