Dei is a family-owned estate winery in the Montepulciano region of Tuscany, not far from the walls of Montepulciano itself, down a winding track (Rosemary George MW: 2004, p.193). The house, which was built by Marcello Piacentini in the 1930s is located in a park and has underground cellars. The main wines are Rosso di Montepulciano DOC, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOC, and Vin Santo di Montepulciano DOC.
Owner: Caterina Dei. She is the grand-daughter of the estate’s founder, Alibrando Dei. He had worked in the travertine business.
Background: In 1964, Alibrando Dei, a wine-growing enthusiast, bought some land [in Bossona, I think] as a holiday home but grapes from the existing vineyard were sold off until 1985 (Rosemary George, 2004, p.193). During the course of the 1970s, the family acquired the Martiena property at the foot of the village of Montepulciano, with its manor house (restored in the 1930s by the architect Piacentini), surrounded by a vast garden. In 1985 the family began making and bottling its own Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine under the name ‘Dei’. They made the wine in an old winery they rented in the historic town centre. It was at this point that Caterina Dei’s father (who is in the marble business) persuaded her to join the estate. She was in the performing arts and has studied theatre and loves music. In 1989, the family built its own winery, beside Villa Martiena, in the heart of the vineyards and made its first wines on its own land. Caterina Dei’s first vintage was 1992 (a bad year).
Staff: Consultant oenologist: Paolo Caciorgna (previously Nicolò d’Afflitto). | Viticulturist: Jacopo Felici.
Vineyards: 2018 101 hectares of land, of which 40ha of woodland and 61ha of vines. Focusing on Tuscan grapes when replanting, to replace French grapes (Merlot, Cabernet etc).
Viticulture: 2018 A mix of cover crops. All rows are sow with cover crops, not just alternate rows. Barley (Hordeum vulgare) or ‘orzo’ in Italian is a grass, sown for organic matter and soil structure. Fava beans (‘favino’), a legume, is sown for nitrogen (legume). Legumes are used especially on clay-rich soils. Mustard and rapeseed (Brassica napus or ‘colza), which are crucifers, are sown for soil decompaction. They are used especially on tufaceous or loamy soils which can be humid and thus provoke vine vigour. Source: Jacopo Felici (see above) (Anteprima, 2018).
Organic certification: 2018 Not yet.
Bianco di Martiena: 33% Trebbiano, 33% Malvasia, 33% Grechetto. 4,700 vines per hectare.
Sancta Catharina: 30% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 10% Petit Verdot. 4,700 vines per hectare. | 1996 Debut. Made from 30% each Cabernet Sauvignon, Prugnolo and Syrah, 10% Petit Verdot (Rosemary George, 2004, p.193). | 1998 12 months in barrels of which 50% were new (Rosemary George, 2004, p.193). | 2009 12m in barrel (Allier). Sexy modern red fruit with some lift but rather too mentholated for me.
Rosso di Montepulciano DOC, Dei: 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo Nero, 5% Merlot. 4,700 vines per hectare. | 2011 Sexy modern nose but ephemeral middle (Anteprima, 2014).
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, Dei: 2002 Very light, slightly green nose, dry tannin, but some elegance if very dull, light at the consorzio on Tuesday 8th March 2005. | 2011 Sangiovese 90%, Canaiolo Nero 10%. Sexy oak–but I was told this aged in 50hl botti, not barrels (Anteprima, 2014). | 2015 New oak overlay, crunchy red fruit beneath. Crisp modern cherry. Well executed for this style (Anteprima, 2018). | 2017 15% alc. Plump fruit, slightly dry end (Anteprima 2020).
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Riserva, Bossona: 100% Sangiovese. Single site. Amphitheatre. Tuff on top. 4,700 vines per hectare. Sandy topsoil over a calcareous base. | 2008 Deepish ruby. Sweet-bitter cherry fruit and what seems adjusted acidity with a blast of oak at the end (Anteprima, 2014). | 2013 100% Prugnolo Gentile.15,2% alc. 18m in oak. Almost Merlot-like in terms of fruit expression (Anteprima, 2018). | 2014 Not made. | 2015 15% alc.
Vin Santo di di Montepulciano DOC, Dei: From 0.48 hectares. 50% Malvasia, 30% Trebbiano, 20% Grechetto. 4,700 vines per hectare.
Rosemary George MW, Treading Grapes: Walking through the vineyards of Tuscany (2004, Transworld).
Az. Maria Caterina Dei
Via di Martiena 35
53045 Montepulciano (SI), Italy
Tel+39 0578.716878 | Website: www.cantinedei.com