San Polino | Estate winery in Località San Polino in the Montalcino region, Tuscany, Italy. Its main wines are Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. A Sant’Antimo Rosso DOC is also made. 

Owners | Luigi (‘Gigi) Fabbro and Katia Nussbaum. Luigi and Katia Nussbaum bought San Polino in 1991. The land was virgin, and had nothing but 1.5-ha (3.7 acres) of olive trees. They started off by making olive oil. They have two sons, Daniel and Giulio. Katia Nussbaum was born in London, is English by birth. She studied and took her degree in Social Anthropology before coming to live in Montalcino in 1985. Katia at the time was a full-time teacher – but has lived in Italy most of her adult life and is probably more Italian than English. 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.

Vineyards | 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.

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. 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 and Bacillus subtilis gainst 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.’

Winemaking | Winemaking 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.’ Slavonian oak vats, stainless steel ISO A316. Barriques from Vernou and Radoux. Delestage and batonage. Racking is done without pumps; instead we use gravity and nitrogen to force the flow of wine from one container into the other. Wine making and wine stocking under temperature control.

Red wines

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

Rosso di Montalcino DOCG | 2001 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 (Benvenuto Brunello 2005). | 2002 Green (Benvenuto Brunello 2005). | 2003 Oaky (Benvenuto Brunello 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 (Benvenuto Brunello 2011). | 2011 3,000 bottles. Nice ripe deep fruit, well made, quite a big style, plum and black fruit (Benvenuto Brunello 2013). | 2012 5,000 bottles. Sweet fruit, rich berries (Benvenuto Brunello 2014). | 2013 4,359 bottles. Nice soft fruit, cherry red, mint, nice weight (Benvenuto Brunello 2015).

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 (Benvenuto Brunello 2013). | 2009 10,000 bottles. Oak slightly dominates the fruit (Benvenuto Brunello 2014). Juicy fruit, nice plump red fruit, good use of oak, good tannin too, intense and savoury (Benvenuto Brunello 2015). | 2010 9,000 bottles. | 2011 Lovely colour and perfume, lovely weight, very rich and appetising (Benvenuto Brunello 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 (Benvenuto Brunello 2019).

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva | 2007 4,000 bottles. The fruit is well sunned, dry finish (Benvenuto Brunello 2015). 

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’. | 2006 Lees stirred in part. Nice denseness (Benvenuto Brunello 2011). 2,000 bottles. €50-60 retail. | 2008 4,000 bottles. Very jammy and raisin-like (Benvenuto Brunello 2013). | 2009 Very black cherry, plus raspberry vanilla, a touch of over-ripeness perhaps (Benvenuto Brunello 2014). Rich, very ripe and savoury, cherry and vanilla, good texture, ripe, long, not too sticky (Benvenuto Brunello 2015). | 2010 3,000 bottles. | 2011 Really very good, rich, ripe, very clear, delicious, balanced (Benvenuto Brunello 2016).