2016 COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico
I drank my first bottle of COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria 12 years ago. It was the 2004 vintage. My brain exploded. “What is this wine?” I asked myself. “Who are these people?” I bought myself 12 more bottles to figure it out. And each bottle was better than the last.
Forty years ago, Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano ponied up for three hectares of vineyards in the Vittoria appellation on the south coast of Sicily. They named their winery with the acronym of the first letters of their surnames. They were just college students. They had just made themselves the youngest winemaking estate owners in Italy. They wanted to make wines like their ancestors made. From their first harvest of their first season, they began radically restructuring the appellation of Cerasuolo di Vittoria. They began a new chapter in the long, rich history of Sicilian wine.
Cerasuolo di Vittoria is a red wine specific to the province of Ragusa and parts of Caltanissetta and Catania — a terroir with origins in the third century BCE. At the beginning of the 17th century, the founder of the city of Vittoria offered an acre of its land — land rich with red clay and limestone — to every settler who cultivated a vineyard. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Italian government made Cerasuolo di Vittoria a DOCG (a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita or Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) — the classification reserved for Italian wines of the highest quality. The COS winery and its devotion to its terroir are among the principal reasons why Cerasuolo di Vittoria became — and still is — Sicily’s sole DOCG.
From its beginning, COS adopted the principles of organic and biodynamic viticulture. The winery has never used any chemical fertilizers or pesticides in any of its vineyards. From its beginning, COS emulated the ancient cellar practices of Sicily. From its beginning, the winery made its Cerasuolo di Vittoria as representative as possible of its land and its legacy. Today, COS is synonymous with Cerasuolo di Vittoria.
Cerasuolo di Vittoria is always 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato. And COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria is always spontaneously fermented on its skins with indigenous yeasts and aged in large, neutral Slovenian oak casks. This 2016 vintage reminds me of that 2004 I was telling you about. Ethereal and earthy, carnal and elusive, as noble as Piedmontese Nebbiolo, as refined as Tuscan Sangiovese. The Wine Advocate bestows the wine with 93 points and talks about its “smooth texture and delicate approach that grows in intensity,” its aromas of cassis, wild raspberry, and blueberry, its integrated tannins, its upstanding backbone.
All I can say is, Twelve more bottles for me, please.
“”The 2016 Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico is a very nice wine that shows a smooth texture and a delicate approach that grows in intensity. There are small-berry aromas with cassis, wild raspberry and dried blueberry, which would spruce up any pasta like a Sicilian pasta alla Norma. A blend of 40% Frappato and 60% Nero d’Avola aged in oak barrels for 12 months, the wine is delicate and smooth, with tiny steps that go the long haul. The tannins are well integrated and give the wine a firm, upstanding backbone. ” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate