Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France


Maria Caterina Dei – music, architecture, wine

Cantine Dei has become a well-known name in Italy and beyond for its excellent quality, fairly priced wines.  In addition to heading up this family business, Maria Caterina Dei also has a profile as a singer in Italy – but that is beyond the field of expertise of this website!  It has been a fairly steep rise for the Dei wine business over recent decades.  Previous generations bought the vineyards since the mid-1960s, now up to 100 hectares, while as recently as the mid-1980s the family sold grapes for others to vinify.  In that period the real family business was travertine, the workable limestone which is currently being used lavishly to decorate the ambitious new winery nearing completion.   The new build will release a lot of space, be very efficient in terms of energy usage and be a landmark for the area in terms of its impressive architecture, while having a minimal impact on the countryside.

Janet and I chose to walk out to the winery from the town of Montepulciano on a typically hot day of late July 2012.  While it is only a couple of kilometres, it was good to arrive and to see the progress on the new winery.  What one really is aware of on foot is that the huge edifice is really not visible from the road. In fact, pre-completion, you have to persist believing that it is there – which I am pleased to say it was. It would be difficult to recover an appointment if one had to retrace one’s steps on foot with the temperature already above 30° C and rising!

Wines tasted in late July 2012:

Bianco di Martiena 2011 – Montepulciano is not a white wine area, but this is a traditional Central Italian blend of Trebbiano, Greccheto and Malvasia.  Bright lemon fruit, light bodied, good refreshing everyday wine.

IMG_3438Rosso di Montepulciano DOC 2010 – being 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo and 5% Merlot, aged for six months in large wooden casks (30hl and 50hl), an interesting midpoint in terms of new and old styles: some Merlot but not much, some ageing in traditional barrels. the consultant winemaker is the highly regarded Niccolò d’Afflito.  Fragrant, lively red-berried fruit shines through as the predominant characteristic here, the very neutral maturing doing no more than rounding out the fruit, tannins and acidity.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2009 – mainly Sangiovese, aged for 24 months in large casks.  After the classic 2006 and the more forward 2007, 2008 is also seen as a very good vintage here.  A reserved, subtle nose of clove, leaf and berried fruit leads to a succulent palate with good depth of flavour, balanced and properly vinous.   It is quickly apparent that these wines do not shout at you. They are complex, subtle, balanced and extremely well made.

BossonaVino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Bossona riserva 2006 – 100% Sangiovese, aged for three years in 7.5hl tonneaux and then a year in bottles. The riserva here used to be a multi-vineyard wine but the Bossona vineyard was identified as having outstanding potential by d’Afflito and so it has become a cru, having being replanted with local strains of Sangiovese.   Intense black berried fruit, deeper in colour and on the palate than the standard Nobile, excellent acidity which refreshes and will give it a long life. Excellent.

Sancta Catarina IGT Toscana2009 – a Super Tuscan named in honour of the two local famous Catarina, the historic saint of nearby Siena and the very local singer/winemaker!  The blend is 30% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah and 10% Petit Verdot aged for a year in new Allier barriques.  Short of including some Pinot Noir, a truly trans-regional wine.   Vanilla, liquorice, olive and black fruit on the nose, substantial palate and a sweet, fully ripe fruit finish.  Excellent balance, a big wine with a light touch.

My overall impression of these wines is of balance and proportion.  Despite the warm climate, they are highly drinkable wines where no one element dominates, with good quality distinctions between the various levels.

With many thanks to Laura for hosting our visit and to all at Cantine Dei – the future looks bright. Best wishes for the opening of the new winery!

Page created August 2012

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