03 September 2011

The Order of Malta and It's Wines

A fine article in Spectator.co.uk about the Order of Malta with a review of some of it's wines, h/t to Fr. Mullins. Here's an excerpt and you can finish the article at their website.
Sovereignty, protocol, military tradition, historic splendour: the Knights cherish them all, but today’s Order has returned to its roots. A medieval hospital, such as the one they ran in Jerusalem, was a guesthouse for travellers. But it would have tended the sick and the dying. Today, that is the Knights’ principal purpose. They are the largest source of non-governmental aid in the world. All Knights are expected to perform good works. By enforcing this requirement, Fra Andrew stirred up some discontent in Rome. One or two princely families, who regarded their membership of the Order as merely an hereditary honour, had neither paid a subscription nor undertaken any charitable works since the Risorgimento. Fra Andrew insisted on a firm purpose of amendment.

The British Knights organise pilgrimages to Lourdes. They tend to have lineages with many quarterings, often from the recusant families who kept the candle of English Catholicism alive at the risk of being hanged and quartered. Many pilgrims are frail, despairing and lonely, a long way removed from Debrett’s. There are those who disapprove of the Order’s grandeur. But there is nothing grand about the nursing tasks which the Knights (and Dames) undertake. Anyone who is prepared to nurse the incontinent dying is entitled to a bit of pomp on their return.

As well as some decent wine. The Order has several vineyards in Italy, mainly near Lake Trasimene and the Castello di Magione, a 12th-century fortress which is the Grand Master’s summer residence. During a prolonged tasting, I had only one disappointment: their Prosecco (mind you, it was no worse than the run of Proseccos). I would commend their Rosso dell’Umbria, a sound quaffing bottle, and their Morcinaia, more complex and more expensive. It is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, so some purists regard it as a French interloper. Would they decline a glass of Sassicaia? There is a delicious Vin Santo, Colli dei Trasimeno, and, from Friuli, an excellent Fruiliano plus a first-rate Pinot Grigio. The Knightly vineyards are almost incapable of producing a bad wine and the profits subsidise good causes. If that does not put you off, the UK stockists are Clarion Wines, who have a website.

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