NEW from San Polino. Read Katia Nussbaum's beautiful and thought-provoking article on biodynamics here: https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/biodynamics-new-approach-needed
The history of this small family farm goes back at least 1000 years, but the first written account of a vineyard here came as part of a registry in 1581. Then, it was part of a hospital, Santa Maria Della Croce: “The farmstead of San Polino, with its house, its worked fields and woodlands, has a vineyard, and there are, on this farmstead, six olive trees…” And those six olive trees are still producing olives!
The estate today has been owned by Luigi Fabbro and Katia Nussbaum since 1991, when they bought a house with five hectares of land, including 1.5 hectares of olive trees, in Montalcino (Tuscany). They renovated the estate for seven years, planting 2.5 hectares of Sangiovese. Their first vintage came in 2001, and they have been a soaring success story ever since. The key to their success may well be their obsessive attention to maintaining a strong, thriving ecosystem. They believe that the relationship between humans and vines is symbiotic. They even introduce insects and microorganisms to the terroir to assist with this process. It is the complex interactions between these different forms of life that make the soil so healthy and naturally protective of the vines. Around 25 per cent of the area is left wild, with shrubland and woods, to encourage this biodiversity. Much of this understanding surely came from the winemakers’ involvement with a biodiversity mapping project of the Brazilian Amazon, the lessons of which they have applied to San Polino. The small size of the estate means that each vine can be individually cared for, without synthetic fungicides, herbicides or pesticides. All such work is done by hand, gently helping nature take its course and the grapes to reach their optimum level of maturation.
The terroir itself is on a south-facing slope of 22 per cent, over the valley of the Ribusuoli River at 400 to 450 metres above sea level. This means sunshine all day round, with a soft southern breeze from Monte Amiata, which helps ward off fungal infections. The various soil types on the estate include those rich in clay, sand and red earth.
The harvest takes place by hand, using small caskets of 20 kilogram capacity. Within 30 minutes of harvest, the grapes are pressed.