COS New 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

 

When it comes to natural, minimal intervention wine for my mind Italy is still the world’s premier destination. While Australian producers in that space are still finding their feet for the most part, a few starting to poke their noses ahead, a number of the top producers in Italy strike that perfect balance between genuine hands-off winemaking that allows for incredibly open and expressive wines, that at the same time hold back the wooly edges that all to often come with the territory. In that elite group at the top sit Sicilian mavericks COS.

COS was born in the 1980s when Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano, who each lend their initial to the estate’s name, started experimenting in their parent’s vineyards in south-eastern Sicily. These forays into winemaking lead them to ancient winemaking techniques, in particular the use of clay amphora for fermenting and ageing their wines, as well as the implementation of extended skin contact. COS are also devotees of organic and biodynamic viticulture believing, as many do these days, that this helps magnify their special sites.

The resulting wines are something special and quite unique. The white wines are wonderfully savoury and saline while the reds have a wonderfully open knit, expressive character. They blend richness and textural grip with freshness and energy. Today there are five wines on offer; Rami, a skin contact white made with grecanico and insolia, the best jumping off point on the white side of the equation with just a modicum of skin contact. It’s perfumed, pithy and pairs ripe stone fruits with a wonderful savoury, saline finish. The Pithos Bianco turns the dial up on everything. It’s deeply perfumed, intensely flavoured and with a noticeable press of tannin from the extended skin contact. It’s the full COS experience, esoteric and arresting.

The reds start with their Frappato and what an introduction, it’s wonderfully bright, fresh and and energetic wine, bursting with red berries and underpinned by a wonderful stony mineral twang. The Pithos Rosso follows and sits between the frappato and cerasuolo in weight and like it’s Bianco equivalent it is powerful and intensely flavoured with lavish dark fruits, intoxicating wild herbs and a firm press of tannin from the extended skin contact. It’s the wildest of the bunch, but provoking and compelling. The final wine if the Cerasuolo, perhaps the most traditional of the bunch it’s a wonderful expression of nero d’Avola and frappato, a generous wine of considerable depth and dimension that layers spices, tar and earth on a core of dark fruit.

This is another stellar line up of wines from COS and will no doubt be jumped on by the estate’s burgeoning fan base in Australia. For those looking to dip their toes in Rami, Frappato and Cerasuolo are the place to start, but if you want the full COS experience the two Pithos wines capture the heart of the estate.

 

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