Cantine Dei

Italy, Tuscany
http://www.cantinedei.com/

The Dei vineyard was founded by Alibrando Dei, grandfather of Caterina who runs it now, when he bought the Bossona vineyard in 1964. This turned out to be a brilliant vineyard site, and is the source of the 'Bossona Riserva'.

In the 1970s Alibrando bought the Villa Martiena, just at the foot of the village of Montepulciano, which came with more land for vineyards and olive trees. At first all the grapes were sold, but in 1985 the family produced their first wines under their own label, renting a winery in the middle of the town. The first winery on the Villa Martiena property was built in 1989. Caterina's father Glauco, also known as ('l'ingegnere' (the engineer) had a successful business in (and a passion for) Travertine marble, so the current gravity-fed winery at Villa Martiena is a palace of Travertine built into the hillside, designed by Glauco and Caterina with the help of architect Alessandro Bagnoli.

The vineyard now extends to 50 hectares, planted at 4700 vines per hectare, in five main parcels; Martiena and Piaggia, at 400m altitude, are mainly a mix of sandstone, giving bright yellow soils, Bossona, also at 400m has tufa on the surface with a calcareous subsoil rich in fossils, and is probbaly still the best site, while Ciarlina, at 300m, is a mix of clay and limestone and Cervognano (250m) is tufa and clay.

Caterina Dei has run the estate for the last 25 years, constantly working at small refinements in the vineyard management, as well as in the winery. Ploughing is kept to a minimum so as to reduce the number of vehicles that have to go into the vines, organic fertiliser and cover crops are used - barley which breaks up the earth like ploughing, clover as a nitrogen-fixer, mustard which is draining, while rape has an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effect. When these a mowed off, they add more organic matter to the soil. No chemical herbicides are used, and careful canopy management is used to prevent disease.

Caterina, musician, singer, actor, grew up with the vines around her and with a love for art and the countryside and vineyards, and all inspire her dedicated approach to making this the premier estate for Montepulciano. 'I rediscovered my love for music through good wine, as they are not as different as one may think. Both wine and music speak a universally sensory language, and celebrate the joy of living... This is what I would like to offer at Cantine Dei, as our truly unique winery is the perfect place to celebrate life. This is a place brimming with artistic emotion and passion for wine, where I would like everybody to enjoy a sensory experience, surrounded by culture and art.'

Caterina Dei's wines show the more modern side of Montepulciano. It will be interesting to see how things develop now that consulting winemaker Paolo Caciorgna has replaced Nicolò D'Afflitto, who is now concentrating exclusively on his work at Frescobaldi. The 2010 Riserva Bossona shows Dei at her best. Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com (Mar 2016)