The Estate – in the heart of Montepulciano
is located right in the middle of Tuscany’s beautiful Montepulciano region just on the eastern slopes of this ‘picture-perfect’ hilltop town. The vineyards were planted in 1964 by Alibrando Dei, a wine loving marble-merchant from the Travertine Hills who recognised the potential of this exceptional terroir around the family’s home. Initially, the grapes were sold to a local winemaker but the outstanding quality of the fruit persuaded Alibrando to produce his own label, beginning with the legendary 1985 vintage. We were delighted to see Alibrando on our last visit to the winery – ‘Il Capo’ (The Boss) announced his daughter Caterina who has in fact been running the estate for many years, injecting her great passion and energy into the project. A wonderful singer and musician, her creative energy is now channelled into improving and finessing every element of the estate. Extending the cellars to include the most beautiful marble ‘temple’ for the elevage of the wines – with all the beautiful Travertine Marble coming from the family’s famous quarries. Not only is this a jaw-droppingly beautiful place to be, it also gives the practical space and perfect environment for wine-making of the highest order.
The Winemaking Team
Caterina and her team, including the brilliant young winemaker Iacopo Felici, have updated the vineyard management too, and replanted a number of plots. These efforts have really paid off and Dei is producing some of the most delicious wines in the region. They all have a focus on elegance and wonderful purity of fruit rather than the heavy extraction and clumsy use of oak that can sometimes be found in Montepulciano. Catarina’s reds are quite simply some of the purest examples of Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile) you will find.
The range begins with the bright, juicy Rosso di Montepulciano which is a superb everyday drinking wine and a great option for barbecues and parties – especially in magnum. Then comes the Vino Nobile which is quite simply one of the best value wines in the L&S range. Last year Gambero Rosso, Italy’s premier food and wine guide, awarded it ‘Tre Bicchieri’ – its top prize – which is usually the preserve of Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Paleo or Saffredi. After tasting the new vintage a few weeks ago we were not at all surprised to hear that the 2014 has wowed the judges once again.
The estate’s flagship wine (and only single-vineyard cuvée in Montepulciano) is the Bossona Riserva. It’s deliciously bold, rich and captivating Sangiovese. You can drink the 2010 now but there’s no rush. It will certainly benefit from further time in the cellar.
‘A rich and intense red with wonderful concentration, spice and new wood now, but will turn to a complete beauty with two or three years of bottle age.’
92/100 James Suckling
Caterina also produces the fabulous ‘Super-Tuscan’ – Sancta Caterina, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile), Petit Verdot and Merlot. All the different elements are vinified separately then assembled by Catarina and her team into the best blend for each vintage. It’s seriously enticing, dark, plump and juicy stuff but the Cabernet and Petit Verdot give the wine notable freshness and fragrance. This is definitely one to watch.
Dei’s white wine is also now on our shelves. The Martiena Bianco is made from Grechetto, Malvasia and Trebbiano. It’s a lovely combination of crisp citrus and ripe peach and dangerously drinkable on a summer’s afternoon. It also makes a lovely accompaniment to seafood. Finally, it wouldn’t be Montepulciano without a bit of Grappa – and Olive Oil. Dei’s examples are both beautifully made.
You can read more about the Estate on their own website.