Although best known for outstanding red wines, Dei’s highly allocated, tiny production of Martiena Toscana Bianco is equally impressive. In fact, it is one of the finest white wines of Tuscany. We first tasted Martiena at the winery many years ago and thought it one of Montepulciano’s best kept secrets. While there is no shortage of wonderful Tuscan reds, fine Tuscan white wines such as Martiena are harder to come by. With some cajoling, we were able to convince Caterina Dei and her American importer to part with a tiny allotment of Martiena. After tasting the superb 2018 Dei Martiena, we were once again graced with a small amount of this rare white wine produced from Chardonnay, Malvasia, Grechetto, and Sauvignon Blanc. Dei’s 2018 Martiena captures the glow and positive energy that radiates from Caterina Dei and her beloved estate, a wine that glows but is never flashy or gaudy. “Elegance in a glass,” is how one of our tasting panel members summed up this wine. The 2018 Dei Martiena offers fresh, vitalizing aromatics: soft scents of apple, yellow plum and wild flowers delight the nose. In the mouth, the 2018 Martiena refreshes the palate and enlivens the senses with a beautiful combination of gentle fruit, bright acidity, and subtle minerality, all of which tantalize the tongue and exit with the sensual energy of a well-sung aria. Enjoy the fresh, sophisticated 2018 Dei Martiena Toscana Bianco moderately chilled (40° F) now and over the next couple of years. Salute!
The elegant and refreshing 2018 Dei Martiena makes an ideal aperitif as well as a superb companion to antipasti, seafood, shellfish, and fresh garden pastas. The wine’s bright, lively flavors complement a wide variety of foods without overpowering them. Lightly grilled calamari or octopus as well as baby mussels sautéed in a spicy garlic broth provide tasty companions to the 2018 Martiena. Shrimp scampi offers excellent companionship, too, while cioppino remains a perennial favorite accompaniment. However, seafood isn’t the only option with Martiena. Pasta Primavera and white pizzas offer tasty accompaniments, as does fresh buffalo mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and served with fully ripened plum tomatoes. Buon Appetito!
The Dei estate lies at the end of a tiny Tuscan road, sequestered from the commercial hoopla that surrounds many other Tuscan wineries. To enter the world of Dei is to step back in time. However, that step is not a retreat to the vagaries of yesteryear as the winery is modern and technologically up to date and the vineyards impeccably maintained. However, the house, the manicured gardens, and the glowing atmosphere are straight out of the 1920s. From its surroundings, Dei recalls the ambiance, comfort and confidence of a bygone era. More importantly, the estate’s wines reflect the overt charm, grace, and conviviality of its owners.
Dei was founded in 1964 by Alibrando Dei upon the purchase of a parcel of land called Bossona where he planted a vineyard of Prugnolo Gentile, the special clone of Sangiovese that is unique to Vino Nobile. Over the next several decades, the family developed the vineyard and sold off the juice in bulk. However, in 1985, Alibrando's son, Galileo, decided to rent a cellar and, with no technical assistance, produced the first family-named commercial vintage. The bottling was such a success that the family built a new modern cellar, whose newest addition hails from the family’s marble quarry.
Today, Dei enjoys an enviable reputation, and as the Wine Advocate has so saliently noted, "The powerful and elegant wines of Caterina Dei continue to rank among the leaders of the pack in Montepulciano." Moreover, the estate continues to blossom under the guidance of Maria Caterina Dei and oenologists Paolo Caciorgna and Jacopo Felic. Caterina, who gave up her career as a professionally trained singer and actress to embrace the family business, is passionately dedicated to producing high quality Vino Nobile and one of the finest white wines of Tuscany in Martiena, this month’s feature. The current estate's 38 hectares (84 acres) of vineyards are all located in the historic Vino Nobile di Montepulciano zone and are split between four prized vineyards: Bossona, Martiena, La Ciarliana and La Piaggia.
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