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The color of the wine has the transparence of seawater over a sandy seabed. The nose captures iodine whiffs, then wild fennel, licorice shrub, fresh linen. Honeydew melon and a light delicate mineral note on the palate.
At this monastery in Vitorchiano, Italy, the Sisters of the Cistercian Order tend five hectares of vineyards to make two white wine blends, Coenobium and Ruscom, as well as a red wine blend called Benedic.
Coennobium is a blend of 45% Trebbiano, 35% Malavasia and 20% Verdicchio. Their vineyards planted to volcanic soils, have been organically farmed since 1993. This volcanic soil and extended skin contact during fermentation lends itself to wine that is redolent of dried orchard fruits, flowers and almonds.
While Sangiovese is the most prolific of the Umbrian varietals, Umbria’s identity is intimately connected to Sagrantino, a grape that has enjoyed premier positioning in Umbria for centuries, conducting an extensive and noted history as a passitowine. In fact, though an exceedingly rare native—limited to a mere 400 acres of vineyards—this distinct minority mediates between the two discrete flavor profiles that characterize this region’s offerings—earth-driven Sangiovese-based wines and modern-oriented blends crafted from the principal international varieties. The wines of Paolo Bea, however, are slightly “off center,” veering more towards the former profile—headlined by the wines of Lungarotti—than the latter. This stylistic predilection is enabled by Bea’s rejection of barrique, yet his wines do not take on a distinct profile; rather, distinctions are realized both between vintages and, at times, within the context of a single vintage.
This wine is sourced from the San Valentino vineyard in Montefalco the soil of which is dominated by clay. The vineyard is at 1300 feet altitude. The composition of the Montefalco Rosso is 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 15% Montepulciano, all from a 50-year old vineyard containing the constituent grapes. Harvest usually occurs in the final ten days of October. Bea puts all the dry reds through extensive cuvaison. In this instance, the wine usually macerates for approximately 30 days before being racked and prepared for the malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 3 years in stainless steel and an additional 4 to 12 months in bottle before release.
From the producer:
While Dolcetto rules the estate, we are offered a glimpse of how the estate’s style would translate to its northern Barolo neighbor through this wine. Half of the fruit comes from a friend’s prime holding in Serralunga d’Alba, while the balance is sourced from an estate parcel in Dogliani. The long 30-day maceration in large vat allows for all of the character of the terroir to present itself, and the result is a wine of power and depth.