Fate can have lovely consequences. Our fortuitous encounter with the Bea family of Umbria of course led to the unearthing of one of the great domaines of Italy. But, we have been additionally blessed as we marched together with Giampiero Bea as he 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. Under the guidance of Bea, they produce two wines as honest and sympathetic and gracious as they are.
The sisters produce a very small amount of red wine: a blend of roughly equal parts Sangiovese and Ciliegiolo, augmented with a splash of Merlot from a newly planted site near their historical holdings. Despite a two-week maceration, Benedic is always a pale-colored, translucent wine that more than makes up for in charm what it lacks in power. An appealing hint of balsamic on the nose underlines the link between the nuns and Bea and speaks to the wine’s lack of manipulation.