Get Thee to a Nunnery…Or, an Ode to a Natural Wine, by Nuns

I was a little intimidated to begin my first wine post on natural wines.  I’m by no means an expert…if anything, I’m a total novice and I’m learning along with you, my humble reader!

So for my first post, I wasn’t quite sure where to start.  Although I had aspirations to create my own rating system and treatise of the various definitions of natural and organic wines (more on this to come), I decided to start with the reason I created this blog in the first place… a simple pairing of my favorite things: wine and food!

In this post, I will introduce a few new concepts, namely vegan, natural and orange wines.  We’ll elaborate on these in future posts.

To begin, I went to my trusty local wine store, Millesima, on the Upper East Side to see what they could tell me about natural, organic, Biodynamic and vegan wines.  I wasn’t sure if they would even have a single one, but I was able to walk out with three.

Since it’s Sunday, I’ll only be focusing on one, the Coenobium Vendemmia 2015 White Wine from Lazio tonight.  Maybe if it were Saturday I’d do all three 🙂

This wine is produced by nuns at the Trappist Monastery of Vitorchiano in Viterbo, Italy about 90 minutes outside of Rome.  Apparently, the nuns enlisted the help of Giampiera Bea, a well known proponent of the “non-interventionalist” winemaking movement in Italy (Vini Veri).  I was told at the wine store that the wine was “natural,” but after doing further research, I learned that this wine also is vegan.

But aren’t all wines vegan?  NO!  Most are made with fining agents such as fish bladders (yes, bladders), egg whites, casein (milk protein) or gelatin (animal protein).  Fining agents just make wines look pretty by taking small particles out of them and making them clear rather than hazy.  More on this in a later post.

This wine is made without any commercial yeasts or additives, sees no fining or filtration, and only the smallest amount of sulfur is added before bottling.


The blend is 45% Trebbiano, 35% Malvasia and 20% Verdicchio and is vinified as an orange wine, with skin contact for over a year.  The result is a honeyed and nutty wine with hints of pear, peach and lime, as well as oxidative characteristics.

To be honest, I found the oxidative qualities of this wine a bit overwhelming.  Not my favorite, although there was an interesting sense of chewiness that is atypical of white wine due to the way it is produced.

So first I blow your mind by telling you that not all wine is vegan, and now I’m talking about Orange wine.  Do not fear!  Orange is the new Pink.  All it means is that white wines are produced like a red wine.  While most white wine never makes contact with grape skins, orange wine is made by leaving white wine in contact with grape skins which creates the orange color and produces tannins more typical of red wines.

Orange wine pairs well with lighter foods like pasta.  Some have spice and minerality which go well with foods with a little kick.  Serve them chilled, just like a white wine.

We paired this with the Chef Chloe Vegan White Lasagna with Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach, a recipe so delicious we couldn’t help but have 3 servings each!  The pesto ricotta truly was “rockin” and you wouldn’t even realize this wasn’t made with cheese!  In addition to this being my first blog post, I also am learning to take appetizing pictures of food.  It tasted better than it looks, I swear.

In researching for this post, I learned that due to the oxidative qualities of the wine, this wine will last for weeks after opening, and that decanting for four to 24 hours would make it most expressive…unfortunately, we drank the whole thing, so we’ll have to try this next time!

This wine would make a great mid-week wine – you can pop it open for a single glass and it will last for several days after opening.  So don’t let Sunday night stop you, go ahead an open a bottle!  You’ll thank me all week.





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