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Cos Nero Di Lupo 2009
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, just off the toe of Italy, Sicily has long been recognized for its fortified Marsala wines. But it is also a wonderful source of diverse, high quality red and white wines. Steadily increasing in popularity over the past few decades, Italy’s fourth largest wine-producing region is finally receiving the accolades it deserves and shining in today's global market.
Though most think of the climate here as simply hot and dry, variations on the sun-drenched island range from cool Mediterranean along the coastlines to more extreme in its inland zones. Of particular note are the various microclimates of Europe's largest volcano, Mount Etna, where vineyards grow on drastically steep hillsides and varying aspects to the Ionian Sea. The more noteworthy red and white wines that come from the volcanic soils of Mount Etna include Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (reds) and Carricante (whites). All share a racy streak of minerality and, at their best, bear resemblance to their respective red and white Burgundies.
Nero d’Avola is the most widely planted red variety, and is great either as single varietal bottling or in blends with other indigenous varieites or even with international ones. For example, Nero d'Avola is blended with the lighter and floral, Frappato grape, to create the elegant, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, one of the more traditional and respected wines of the island.
Grillo and Inzolia, the grapes of Marsala, are also used to produce aromatic, 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.
Opulent with bold fruit and robust tannins, Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s most widely planted red grape, though the variety's other name, Calabrese, suggests origins from the mainland region of Calabria. Popular throughout Sicily and prized for its body, color and deep cherry fruit, Nero d’Avola performs well both as a single varietal bottling and in blends. It loves hot, arid climates and Sicily's old vines are aptly head-trained close to the ground, making them resistant to strong winds. A few pioneering producers in California as well as Australia farm Nero d’Avola in the same way.
In the Glass
A couple of styles of Nero d’Avola are possible. The first is typically a powerful, opulent, dark fruit driven style with notes of coffee or cocoa from aging in wood. A second style offers up a snappier version with red cherry fruit and herbal notes, having seen little to no oak during aging.
Nero d’Avola’s black fruit and spicy flavors are perfect with rich flavors like grilled meat or stews, but can also be a great compliment to burgers, pizza or pasta.
If you love big, bold wines like Napa Cabernet and Châteauneuf-du-Pape but want to stick to a budget, look no further than Nero d’Avola for a worthy substitute. Even the best examples often run under $20.