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Monastero Suore Cistercensi "Coenobium" Lazio, Italy 2020

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45% Trebbiano, 35% Malvasia, 20% Verdicchio

Fate can have lovely consequences. The sisters of Monastero Suore Cistercensi have been organically farming their five hectares of vines in Vitorchiano (an hour or so north of Rome), in the region of Lazio, for decades — but it wasn’t until Giampiero Bea began advising them in the early 2000s that their wines gained a larger audience.

The Bea family of Umbria is one of the great domaines of Italy. Under Giampiero's guidance, the eighty women of this religious order produce two wines as honest and sympathetic and gracious as they are. The vineyards are planted to a series of four essentially local white grape varieties: Malvasia, Verdicchio, Grechetto and Trebbiano.

The “winery” is a toolshed packed to the gills with old steel tanks, fiberglass containers of various sizes, and jugs of this and that — proving yet again that it takes the barest minimum to produce a wine of character and truth.

In a region rife with soulless, highly controlled, highly sulfured beverages posing as white wines, here was a wine of real character, an unadorned expression of healthy grapes grown in fascinating volcanic soil. Moreover, the wines have only improved since the 2005 vintage.