San Polino, Brunello Di Montalcino Helichrysum, DOCG, Tuscany, Italy, 2018
There is a small 'nirvana' northwest of Montalcino, where Luigi Fabbro and Katia Nussbaum founded San Polino nearly 30 years ago.
Using Luigi's scientific experience of mapping the Amazon rainforest they decided to try their hands at "creating wines as complete reflections of the biodiversity of their terroir" Katia explains. This tiny estate of only 4 hectares now produces luscious and balanced wines farmed bio-dynamically by this energetic couple who, it is clear, pour all their heart and energies into these sublime wines. Praised by critics and peers they have been described as having "an incredible clarity and pureness of fruit that is unequalled in the region".
The "Helichrysum" vineyards lie at 450m altitude to the south-east of Montalcino, on south facing slopes. The soil is very varied, rocky with marl, and granite type rocks, both volcanic and sedimentary, clay, sandy-loam, red ferrous and white chalky lime. These soils have never been touched by chemicals and have healthy microbial and fungal life. Practicing organic, biodynamic and permacultural methods in the vineyards, they fertilise using estate made and managed green composts and spray the vineyards with microbes farmed from composts and forest floor material. Work in the vineyard is done by hand.
Harvest usually happens in the first 10 days of October, 3 days of maceration and spontaneous fermentation in tronic oak barrels on indigenous yeasts, followed by 45 days post-fermentation maceration. The skins are then pressed, and the wines from the press kept separate from the free-run (vino fiore). The wines are left for a month in their barrels for the malolactic fermentation, spontaneous, and then racked into french barrique, together with the fine lees, to do a 5 month process of roulage, adding to the spice and a creamy mouthfeel, the wine is then racked into 25hl barrels to age for 3 years before bottling.
Type: French and Slavonian 225l Barriques and 38 hl vats
% wine oaked: 100
% new oak: 10
Dark ruby to garnet with terracotta on the rim, the nose is fruity and full, with notes of blackcurrent, violet, a small hint of rose petal, forest floor, spicy. The mouth is dry, full-bodied, corpulent, thick and juicy, with structured ripe tannins and balanced acidity, long, persistant finish.
Roast or grilled vegetables and mushrooms, grilled meats, strong cheese.
Decanter 95 Points
Harvested just after the estate Brunello in Montalcino's southeast, the grapes saw the same pre-fermentation maceration to fix colour, as well as gentel daily pumpovers to keep fragils skins intact. Equally distinc in fragrance as its sister bottling, though more Mediteranean in temperament, lavender and scented broom mingle with pepper, expanding with sumptuous tannins that hemp in plentiful fruit, perky acidity and a long and violet-tinged finish. It definielty carries the stuffin and structure for ageing. Organic. 95 Points, MM, April 2023.
6 x 75cl
Award: James Suckling 96 Points