COS 2020 Releases

VITTORIA, Sicily — The red wines made in the vicinity of this midsize town in southeastern Sicily can be elegant and beautiful, with a crunchy freshness and a reticent austerity. They can be intriguingly mineral, gorgeously perfumed and astonishingly pure, while still displaying rich, focused fruit flavors. They offer a lot to love. NEW YORK TIMES 

COS is an acronym from the initials of the family names of the original three owners of this estate, founded in 1980: (Giambattista) Cilia, (Giusto) Occhipinti and (Cirino) Strano. Over the years Strano opted to dedicate himself completely to his medical job and so the estate has been run by Cilia and Occhipinti. They believe in organic and biodynamic farming, as well as the use of large 150-liter terracotta amphoras to make and age their wines–such as, for example, their excellent Pithos Rosso. Unlike many other estates in Italy that are also involved in organic and natural winemaking, COS has long distinguished itself for clean, pure, varietally accurate wines. IAN D’AGATA, Vinous.com

Always one of the best Frappatos out there JAMES SUCKLING

 

COS are one of a handful of Italian producers that really opened my mind and palate up to the lo-fi, minimal intervention wine movement. Today, I still believe that ‘Italians do it better’ when it comes to wines in this camp with the top producers, like COS, crafting aromatically exciting, wonderfully textural and nuanced wines that keep their sense of place at their core. They understand that techniques like extended skin contact and the use of large clay amphora for aging can be used to impart wonderful savoury and saline characters in white wines and give an open knit, expressive characters to their reds. The application of organic and biodynamic principles has also been a core philosophy and practice at the estate since the 1980s, believing that this helps magnify the sites imprint on the wines.

COS was born in Sicily as a partnership between three friends; Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano, who each lend their initial to the estate’s name. Natural wine fans might recognise the Occhipinti name in there from Arianna Occhipinti, who is Giusto’s niece and also makes excellent minimal intervention wines under her Occhipinti label. Arianna’s partner Eduardo Torres Acosta also crafts sensational wines on the slopes of Mt Etna. Today they are one of the absolute benchmark producers in the region and are widely respected for their wines, as well as their contribution to minimal intervention wines in Italy.

These are not however wines simply for the natural wine devotee, they speak to those with a passion for interesting, idiosyncratic wines that transport you to their birthplace. They are wines for those who love texture and aromatics as much as fruit character in wine and who don’t always just want to just drink Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Today’s offer includes Rami, a skin contact white made with Grecanico and Insolia, it reminds Mike Bennie of lemon ginger tea. Pithos, made from 100% Grecanico, turns up the dial with a more assertive skin contact. It’s a textural delight and brims with intensity. The reds follow next with three different expressions of the native Nero d’Avola and Frappato that blend freshness and purity with all of Sicily’s hallmark florals, spice, dried herbs and minerality.

If your only experience with Sicilian wines is overbearing ripe red wines and flabby whites, these wines are going to flip that paradigm on its head. This is an exciting line-up of wines and once which should bring great enjoyment and discussion.

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