2022 Monastero Suore Cistercensi "Coenobium” Bianco, Lazio IGP, Italy

This Coenobium displays notable breadth—yet it is muscular rather than corpulent. It spotlights Vitorchiano’s volcanic soils, with a somber smoke-iron interplay underpinning the classic Coenobium notes of green apple, fennel frond, and honey.


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Produced in an entirely natural manner under the guidance of Giampiero Bea, the Coenobium is a blend of Trebbiano, Verdicchio, and Malvasia, harvested together and co-fermented without added yeasts or temperature stabilization. Aged on its fine lees in steel and fiberglass tanks, it is bottled just before the next harvest without fining or filtering. The nose is evocative of autumn on multiple sensory levels, with aromas of fennel fronds, chamomile tea, almonds, and tangerine that lead into a full but delicately rendered palate. Vitorchiano’s volcanic soils come through with a somber smoke-iron interplay, and glowing acidity lets the savory flavors coat the mouth, yet the overall impression is one of freshness and drinkability.


Cistercian nuns have been organically farming their five hectares of vines in Vitorchiano, Lazio, since the early nineties, but it wasn’t until Bea began advising them in the early 2000’s that their wines gained a larger audience.

Fate can have lovely consequences. Giampiero Bea made the acquaintance of the Sisters of the Cistercian order living and working at their monastery in Vitorchiano, ninety minutes or so north of Rome in the Lazio district. Here at this quiet religious outpost eighty women of this religious order work vineyards and orchards and gardens organically.

Today, a ravenous US audience eagerly awaits each new release of “the nun wine." Even before Giampiero began helping them gently refine their approach and commercialize their wines—only to the US and Japan, it should be noted—he was struck by the frankness of a white wine produced with almost no technology. In a region rife with highly controlled, highly sulfured concoctions, here was a wine of real character, an unadorned expression of healthy grapes grown in a fascinating volcanic-soiled terroir. Each time we visit with the sisters, we are amazed by their warmth of spirit, their serene energy, and the shockingly spartan nature of their operation. The “winery” is nothing more than a toolshed packed to the gills with old steel tanks, fiberglass containers of various sizes, and glass demijohns tucked here and there—proving yet again that it takes the barest minimum to produce a wine of character and truth.


Grape(s) Trebbiano, Malvasia, Verdicchio
Farming Organic