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Cos Cerasuolo di Vittoria Pithos 2010
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In 1980, the trio became the youngest winemakers in Italy when they bought Joseph Cilia’s old family winery. Located in the historic town of Bastonaca, the vineyard measured just over a mere three hectares. Their first harvest on October 5 produced only 1470 bottles; nevertheless, this marked the beginning of their adventures and the radical restructuring of the region of Cerasuolo di Vittoria.
The three partners completed their studies between 1983 and 1985. Rino, however, decided to devote himself to his field of medicine and sold his shares to his sister, Giuseppina (Pinuccia). The new trio then purchased la Villa Fontane in 1991, the Moltisanti family’s property in the Fontane-Baucina district, and new vines were planted on the eight hectares.
1995, Pinuccia sold her shares to Titta and Giusto. The remaining two friends continued to grow the estate as they acquired new and valuable lands close by.
In their quest to interpret the unique terroir of Vittoria, the estate decided to adopt the principles of biodynamic culture. This would help them find and maintain a harmonious balance with nature, as well as craft wines that are as representative as possible of their time and place.
Fascinated by ancient cellar practices, COS decided to work with amphoras, clay jars that were used by the ancient Greeks. The first shipment came from Spain in September 2000, and thus, Pithos was born and a new COS identity was created. The Pithos cuvée is fermented and aged solely in the amphoras which allow the grapes to express themselves naturally in their evolution towards becoming wine.
Once the restoration of the Fontane building was completed in 2003, the head office was moved and the business resort, the Locanda COS, opened for COS’s friends around the world. The company continued its growth when they purchased the 20 hectares of land adjacent to la Villa Fontane in 2005 that included an extraordinary wine cellar dating back to the nineteenth century.
The two architects began an immediate renovation of the building and new winery. That year also marked the first harvest of Cerasuolo di Vittoria with the DOCG designation (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), the only region permitted to have this designation in Sicily.
2007 was the first vintage bottled in the new cellar. The old oak barrels were replaced by 150 amphoras, one of the largest collections in the world, and they began making Pithos Bianco with the local Grecanico grape.
Today, COS is synonymous with Cerasuolo di Vittoria. Their love of the region and its singular terroir produces some of the finest wines Italy has to offer.
A large, geographically and climatically diverse island off the toe of Italy, Sicily has long been recognized for its fortified Marsala wines. It is also home to red and white table wines that have been steadily increasing in quality and popularity over the past few decades, allowing Italy’s fourth largest wine-producing region to shed its former image as merely a supplier of bulk wine. Certainly, plenty of bulk wine is still made here, but those who look beyond that will find plenty of high-quality wines for every-day drinking as well as bottles from boutique producers who espouse thoughtful vineyard practices (the organic wine movement thrives here). Though most think of the climate here as simply hot and dry, there is some variation on the sun-drenched island, particularly at high elevation on the slopes of Mount Etna.
Although Sicily’s comeback began with clever labels and easily recognizable international varieties, its charm lies in its indigenous grapes. Nero d’Avola is the most widely planted red variety, responsible for full-bodied, berry fruited wines throughout the island. In Cerasuolo di Vittoria, it is blended with the lighter, more floral Frappato to create an elegantly balanced wine. On the volcanic soils of Mount Etna, many noteworthy wines are being produced in every color—whites from Cataratto and Carricante, and rosés from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. All of these wines share a racy streak of minerality and at their best can bear more than a slight resemblance to their respective Burgundies. Grillo and Inzolia, the grapes of Marsala, are used to produce generally simple, crisp dry whites. Pantelleria, a subtropical island belonging to the province of Sicily, specializes in Moscato di Pantelleria, made from the variety locally known as Zibibbo.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to create complex wines with many different layers of flavors and aromas, or to create more balanced wines. For example, a variety that is soft and full-bodied may be combined with one that is lighter with naturally high acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.