The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium 2012

A vibrant, precise, intriguing $27 skin-contact white

283363Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium 2012 is an excellent selection for any summer meal. This unusual and compelling wine made by the nuns of the Cistercian order in Vitorchiano, about 90 miles north of Rome in Lazio, is a bottle that totally over-delivers. Eighty Cistercian sisters work the vineyards and orchards organically in this beautiful, pristine, and quiet religious outpost. Overseen by Giampiero Bea, the son of Umbria’s eminent artisanal producer Paolo Bea, Monastero Suore crafts two wines, both whites made with extended contact with the skins of the grapes. Both Giampiero and Paolo are well known proponents of the Italian school of non-interventionalist winemaking, and this wine is evidence of that influence.

Slightly cloudy and golden straw in color with a tiny little light-orange tint in the glass, the wine gracefully demonstrates a vivacious acidity, with subtle notes of clean peach and fresh apricot on the mid-palate.  Best of all, the wine has a gorgeous mineral streak on the finish, which works really well with summer antipasti served as a first course. However, the Coenobium also pairs really well with lighter pastas containing seafood—it would be divine with ravioli such as lobster or butternut squash.

The ’12 Coenubium has a strong yet subtle backbone, a quality that is a component of a meticulously made organic white wine; this precision comes from the fact the skins have longer than usual contact with the fermenting juice. The first time I had this wine it left me perplexed as I tasted it blind—I had no idea what I was drinking, but I knew I liked it. A blend of 45% Trebbiano, 35% Malvasia, and 20% Verdicchio, this wine is balanced, precise, and surprising. Only 1,000 cases of this wine were made in 2012, and it delivers a massive value at under $27.