A Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Malvasia Bianco and Grechetto blend made by — get this — nuns, at a monastery just north of Rome.

Unfiltered and organic, this hazy, strawberry-blonde wine is part of a growing group of so-called orange or amber wines.  These wines are vinified essentially like red wine: left in much longer contact with the grape skins than is normally the case with white wines, so that the fermenting grape juice takes on a slightly tannic and dry, delicious, cider-like quality.

Monastero Suore Cisterci (Monastic Order of Cistercian Nuns) Vitorchiano, Latium, Italy The Catholic Church was historically integral to establishing quality viticulture and vinification throughout Europe. The primary monastic orders who most famously dedicated themselves to such tasks, the Benedictines and its subsect, the Cistercians, set up the vineyard boundaries and regions throughout most of Northern Europe. In an effort to live as closely as possible according to the rule of St. Benedict, these orders were autonomous, self-sustaining communities. To make a living, they produced beer, wine and spirits and gave lodging to weary pilgrims. Their winemaking efforts were in pursuit of better quality. Monks throughout France, Italy and Germany progressively moved, by trial and error, hard work and painstaking research, towards better wine. They discovered what worked in which regions, setting forth the notion of terroir. This was the domain of men, however, and continued to be so until the late 20th century.

At the monastic order of Cistercians near Rome, the sisters tend their plots of Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Malavasia and Grechetto by hand. They have enlisted the help of Giampero Bea to vinify their work into wine. S

Since 2005, the son of non-interventionist winemaking icon, Paolo Bea has used the Sisters’ pristine grapes and advised in the monastery’s cellar. The Sisters’ wines, therefore, like all the others Bea has a hand in, are not manipulated at all: they are fermented with naturally occurring yeasts, will never be fined or filtered and there is no added sulfur before bottling.

Their wines are completely natural and a pure expression of their dedication and hard work.  The wine is golden in the glass with notes of roasted fennel, mint, and pear skins on the nose. The palate is dense with sweet fruit and prominent preserved lemon acidity. The finish shows hints of skin tannin. A unique and beautiful wine.

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