It looks like countless treasures hide among the vineyards of Montepulciano: this was my very first thought when I approached Villa Martiena to learn about the Dei cellar, protagonist of the story of this month. The owner of the farm, Caterina Dei, guided us with great elegance in a long tour of the cellar.
The Dei family has owned the property since a few decades ago. It was 1964 when Alibrando Dei decided to buy some plots in the area of Bossona, planting the first vineyards. He later also bought the property of Martiena including the country house, which had been restored during the 30’s by the famous architect Piacentini. It doesn’t look like the typical tuscan houses made of red bricks: instead, its exteriors resemble the original 18th century villa.
Early on, these properties were used for summer residence, because the family lived in Siena. They had no intentions to become wine producers, so all they did was selling the grapes produced in the vineyards. There was a great demand for their grapes, which was very appreciated, and it was then that Caterina’s father had the idea: “Why don’t we try to make some wine just for us and our friends?”
It was 1985 and, for the first time, the Dei family rented a cellar from some friends in Montepulciano. The success of their first Vino Nobile encouraged them to continue their venture: the first vinification cellar was built in 1989 in Villa Martiena, where everything started.
Caterina Dei told us that initially she didn’t want to become a wine producer, but in the end she gave into her father’s requests and helped her family during the first harvest. She joined just to give a hand and she never left. “The famous last words! – she reveals – I remained in Montepulciano to do my entrepreneur job, but despite my newfound love for wine I still continue my musical studies.”
In fact, Caterina graduated in music in Siena and studied at the Accademia dei Filodrammatici in Milan. She studied lyrical singing, she acted at the greek theater of Syracuse and recorded her first light music album in collaboration with professional musicians. She’s able to conjugate her passion for music with that for Vino Nobile, two main features of Montepulciano.
The underground cellar underlines another characteristic of the Dei family: travertine. The design of the cellar is made unique by the omnipresence of this stone that comes from the family’s excavation sites in Rapolano Terme. A cellar full of 50 hectolitre barrels and natural materials: stone, glass and wood, in harmony with the nature surrounding Villa Martiena. A winding staircase – that recalls the shape of the shell fossils scattered around Bossona – leads to the lower floor, to the room where the barrels are stored.
Another unique feature of the Dei cellar is the great attention they give to environmental sustainability. From the vinification cellar, the wine flows down to the underground barrels using gravity alone, with no need to be pumped away. A geothermal system keeps the temperature constantly at 10°C and produces the vapor used to clean barrels and machineries, so no chemicals are involved.
The Dei cellar produces its wine from four vineyards in four different locations, for a grand total of 52 hectares: Martiena, Bossona, La Ciarliana and La Piaggia. Each vineyard is different for ground composition and consistency, therefore each wine is treated differently.
The total production is around the 200.000 bottles per year: 90.000 of red wine, 90.000 of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and 20.000 of Riserva Bossona, the 100% sangiovese cru. Since the beginning, the intention of the Dei family was to aim to the top selection, carefully choosing their grapes, working for the highest quality against quantity. This is why the supertuscan “Sancta Catharina”, a powerful and complex blend, is produced in only 5.000 bottles when the year has been good. Last but not least, there are the Martiena White IGT, the EVO oil, the Vin Santo and the Vino Nobile Grappa.
“Music and wine speak the same language – says Caterina Dei – the language of senses. There’s no need for translation. And they’re two things to share with the persons you love, especially in Montepulciano”.
(For tours and informations: Via di Martiena 35, Montepulciano – Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel.: +39 0578 716878)