Sicilian Wine Adventures – Part 28; COS it’s the best…


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Can you judge a wine’s quality based on how quickly the bottle is emptied? I mean; it must be the best grade a wine can receive right? But then again, you could be mean and say it was simply because it was easy drunk and didn’t provide any speed bumps?

I’m in love. Again. My palate is so dead tired of all brutally concentrated wines – chasing points – and the rescue has been fragrant wines from the Beaujolais Crus, Nerello Mascalese from Etna, Kadarka – a new discovery of mine from Hungary and that oh so, seductive and aromatic grape from the south eastern parts of Sicily; Frappato. Sometimes standing on its own feet, at other occasions backed up by his buddy, Nero d’Avola. Recent research has found DNA similarity with Sangiovese which I seriously have a hard time to believe. But then again, if you’re one of the parents Sangiovese, who have you been messing around with?

In 2005 Cerasuolo di Vittoria was, as the first Sicilan region, awarded DOCG status. The wines from the hills of Vittoria, a part of the province of Ragusa in the south eastern parts of the island, were producing a blend of basically equal shares of Frappato and Nero d’Avola. Some Nerello Mascalese and Grossonero were also allowed to add when the status said DOC. Not anymore. In connection with the elevation, the blend amongst growers turned in favor of Nero d’Avola, more of 70/30 reducing a bit of the instant charm of the Frappato – but adding more depth. The DOCG stipulation says 30-50 per cent Frappato and 50-70 per cent Nero d’Avola. In my world, the best Cerauolo di Vittorias are the ones going 50/50 or 60/40 since this is what makes the wines unique!

One of the top producers, the best to many of us, is Azienda Agricola COS. Started in 1980 by three friends; Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti and Cirino Strano. My kind of COS. After experimenting for some years, finding their own way, the company turned, roughly a decade ago, towards the principles of biodynamic viticulture. At the same time COS started fermenting in clay jars, amphoras, for some of the wines. Next step was to both ferment and age a wine in the amphoras – the Pithos, a Cerasuolo di Vittoria. Enough talk. Let’s taste some COS!

2010 Frappato, IGT, Azienda Agricola COS

100 per cent Frappato and I just love this one! From south-east facing vineyards at 250 meters above the sea level. Young vines; only around eight years old. No dense color here. Clear red simply. I’m using the burgundy shaped glasses for Frappato and the wine’s slightly chilled. Aromatic nose with lots of sweet strawberries, gentle spices, licorice, flowers and humus. Just a touch of cherries as well. No oak at all here. On the palate you get the contrast from the nose. Much drier. Light style but with seductive mouth-watering acidity, mashed strawberries and black cherries, discrete oriental spices and summer flowers. Some smoke and
wet rocks feel as well. Really fine and clean length. This one you want to gulp but still it’s an intellectual wine. Try and you will understand!

2009 Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Azienda Agricola COS

60 per cent Nero d’Avola and the rest Frappato.The latter has aged in concrete tanks and the Nero in used oak. Same altitude as the previous bottle but the vines has an average age of twenty years. More color to this one although no scary dark monster. This looks like wine actually! More funk on the nose; leather, compost, dark cherries, licorice and violets. Evolves and shows more complexity on the second day when the floral notes turns this, at first more solid wine, in to a beauty. Good tannic grip, higher acidity than the Frappato and more depth. Licorice, humus, dark bitter cherries and violets. Long, lingering finish. Give it a year or
two more, to fully be there.

What to eat with these seducers? A heavenly pairing is the Melanzane al parmigiano, gratinated eggplants served in a seriously unhealthy but divine mix of cheese and lots of olive oil. Want a recipe? Send a mail but don’t blaim me if you gain some weight.

PS. Giusto Occhipinti might sound familiar for some. He’s Arianna Occhipinti’s uncle…

PS.2. Yes, biodynamically run. So what? It’s their standpoint and belief. I love the wines. That’s mine.

Want to try some COS? For Europeans the wines can be found here. For the rest of all you winelovers outside of Europe, check out this link.

More COS reviews coming up!