Browse Tag


Viva Arianna (a/k/a VA)

Occhipinti “Alea Viva” 2009 Lazio Rosso (Lazio) – There’s too much volatile acidity for me to really enjoy this wine, but for those less sensitive to nail polish remover as a beverage, there’s a fizzy sort of black’n’blue berry soda quality to the wine that’s a lot of fun. It’s intense, it’s in fact very nearly impossible to ignore, but it manages to play pretty well with food. Food slathered with a sauce based on ethyl acetate, though. (12/11)


Cincinnato 2009 Lazio Bianco “Castore” (Lazio) – Luminescent lime-green hues, with just the blare of a trumpet behind their insistent honk. A touch warm. I want to think this will age, but I don’t think it has the balance for it. Maybe I’m wrong. (7/11)


Cincinnato 2008 Lazio Rosso “Pollùce” (Lazio) – There’s something on-the-ground authentic about this wine, by which I mean that it’s the sort of thing one occasionally encounters while traveling Old World wine regions, perhaps poured from a pitcher or cask at a casual wine bar or locals’ restaurant, after which one wonders why such inexpensive, innocent goodness can’t be had for a similar price back home. I don’t know what the actual winemaking here is like, but I can say that it tastes about as unmanipulated (but clean) as anything that’s passed my lips of late. Sapid, berried, slightly crisp, quick. At twice the quantity this would never have been “too much wine.” (1/11)

David Ortiz

[vineyard]Corte dei Papi 2007 Cesanese del Piglio Colle Ticchio (Lazio) – Hard-edged, as if shelled, with a slather of dark, brooding fruit once one penetrates the exterior difficulties. Tastes as much like the Platonic idea of a Madiran (whatever the reality) than anything from Lazio, albeit with a lessening of the tannin in relation to the wine’s other elements. I’d like to explore this with a little more age, or at least air. (2/10)

Trappiste family singers

Monastero Suore Cistercensi S.O. Trappiste 2006 “Coenobium” (Lazio) – There sure is a lot of bottle variation with this wine. I expect a little more consistency from nuns…though I suppose the highly naturalistic Bea influence must deserve the credit and.or blame. This is one of the not-great bottlings, expressed – as usual – not by some flaw, but by an insistent argument for indifference. Some of the skin-contact signs are there in the structure, but the miasmatic minerality is more mushy than complex, and the wine just sort of sits there, lifeless. (7/09)

Trappiste John, M.D.

Monastero Suore Cistercensi S.O. Trappiste 2007 “Coenobium” (Lazio) – Simple grapefruit rind, with a light spicing dominated by white pepper. And is that celery? It’s like a stealth grüner veltliner has entered the room and is masquerading as a “baby” orange wine. This is initially fairly disappointing, but gains a measure of weight and texture with extended aeration. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to explore this in more detail. (7/09)

Monastero Suore Cistercensi S.O. Trappiste 2006 “Coenobium” (Lazio) – Bigger and fuller-bodied than the 2007, showing a blend of red and Rainier cherries. Round, yet there’s a washed-out quality to the finish, as if the wine rather clumsily gives its all right at the start, and has nothing left for the duration of the race. (7/09)

Monastero Suore Cistercensi S.O. Trappiste 2007 “Coenobium Rusticum” (Lazio) – Extremely tannic. Metal and charred orange, maybe even a bit of ash. Acid-dominated on the finish, which is extremely long. Tight and no fun. My last bottle of this was a stunner. What happened? (7/09)

The Rust is yet to cum

Monastero Suore Cistercensi S.O. Trappiste 2007 “Coenobium Rusticum” (Lazio) – Placed on the “orange wine” spectrum, this is the fresh, lively fruit bomb with the heart of a proto-star. The metals on the surface are polished and nearly 100% reflective, the fruit within is intense and leans on crispness and an almost pineapple-like vivacity, and the wine’s acidity is far more prominent – though I can’t necessarily say it’s quantifiably greater – than is typical for wines of this ilk. Along ilk-ish lines, then, this wine laughs while others ponder, sings while others hum, and dances while others prepare for bed. It’s a wine with a sense of humor – now look at the name of the owner of the vines, and figure that one out – and while it’s more complex and contemplative than the vast majority of the world’s wines, within its cohort and context it is the joyful, playful fountain of youth. It gives you hugs, though it whispers philosophy in your ear while it does so. How can one not love this wine? (4/09)

Suore thumb

Monastero Suore Cistercensi S.O. Trappiste 2006 “Coenobium” (Lazio) – From a bottle that’s been open for a little while, which has contrasting effects. On the one hand, the occasional diffidence of the foamy, tanned soil nose is less combative, leaving old stone fruit and the purer version of the soil a little more exposed. On the other, the fight to get at this wine is, in a way, a stand-in for some of the balancing structure that this wine doesn’t always have enough of. I like Coenobium a lot (though I liked it even more when it was under $20), but it often feels like a junior, training wheels version of the crazy “orange wines” that seem to flow like water from Italy these days. (3/09)

Bea good

Monastero Suore Cistercensi S.O. Trappiste 2005 “Coenobium” (Lazio) – Deliciously weird; vivid and fetid, vibrant and snoozy, white and reddish. Every sip is something new, and while each of those new experiences isn’t always uncomplicatedly enjoyable, the overall impression is one of compelling, complex elusiveness…quite a feat for such a present wine. Everyone will not love, or even like, this. But I do. (9/08)

Sister, sister

Monastero Suore Cistercensi S.O. Trappiste 2006 “Coenobium” (Lazio) – Precise and yet full of dancing flavor; perhaps it’s most accurate to say that it starts with purer intentions than it eventually reveals. Pine and rosemary dominate up front, but then matters broaden to waxier, more exotic floral/spicy aromas. A lovely wine. (4/08)

Monastero Suore Cistercensi S.O. Trappiste 2005 “Coenobium” (Lazio) – The exoticism of this wine here extends to the texture, which is decidedly silky but aggravatingly elusive. There’s more fruit than in the 2006, with lots of minerality, but the overall effect is somewhat less exciting. Still, it’s a very good wine, at a very good price. (4/08)

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