Cos Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico 2006
The south-eastern province of Ragusa, around the town of Vittoria, is home to the revived Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a red wine made from 60 percent Nero d'Avola and 40 percent Frappato. The Italian government has just granted it DOCG status (the strictest appellation in Italy), which makes Cerasuolo di Vittoria the first Sicilian wine to enjoy this prestigious designation. (Bottlings from the current 2005 harvest will reflect the new status.) Yet little more than 20 years ago, the wine was in steep decline, one of the many southern victims of Italy's controversial law prohibiting the addition of sugar to wine to increase alcohol content, still enforced today. “Cerasuolo was hardly produced, because buyers did not want the wine in and of itself, but only the must from over-mature nero d'Avola to add strength to their wines, the price of which was based on sugar content,” explains leading producer Giusto Occhipinti, who started the COS winery with two classmates back in the early 1980s. On a shoestring budget, the three friends vinified the grapes from their parents' vineyards. They even bought Angelo Gaja's used French barrels back in 1983 to age the wine. By the late 1980s, they started buying new barriques and felt the influence of California's Napa Valley. Other winemakers in the area were impressed with the results and also began making Cerasuolo di Vittoria, using the two local varieties instead of selling the grape juice from overripe Nero d'Avola. “Then we took a huge step back,” Occhipinti recalls. “We tried some of our earliest bottlings, those matured in used barriques, and we were shocked at the difference. With its mineral notes and earthy sensations, the wine was so much more interesting than the later vintages matured in new oak with sensations of vanilla and toast. Just as everyone else in the mid-1990s invested in new French barriques, we began recycling ours. Today we use a combination of different-sized barrels, from barriques to large casks, all of varying ages.” He also notes that COS does not use selected yeasts and has never used chemicals in the vineyards. “Our goal isn't to make wines that impress wine critics, but to make wine that expresses our great terroir. Here, Nero d'Avola is more elegant than in other regions, and has these great mineral notes from the soil. This is what gives the Cerasuolo di Vittoria its rich fruit, while the Frappato gives the wine its floral components and freshness,” Occhipinti says. The Cerasuolo shows a brilliant ruby red colour and nuances of ruby red. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, blackberry and plum followed by aromas of raspberry, blueberry, carob, violet, tobacco and vanilla. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a slightly tannic attack and pleasing crispness, however balanced by alcohol, good body and intense flavours. The finish is persistent with flavours of black cherry, plum and blackberry. The Nero d'Avola grape used for the production of this Cerasuolo di Vittoria ages in cask, whereas Frappato ages in steel tanks.
Editorial Reviews for Cos Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico
Very evolved on the nose with real autumnal character. Soft and loose in the mouth with fruit that is a touch roasted, though there are nice mineral, clay and burnished cherry flavors that end abruptly. 84pts
60% Nero d'Avola, 40% Frappato di Vittoria, 13% ABV I was persuaded by my chatty and enthusiastic local Philglas & Swiggot man to buy this unusual Sicilian red wine with a strange fat bottle, not cheap at around £17.00, but which turned out to be an excellent recommendation. I was looking for something Italian, exciting and different. I'm trying to expand my knowledge of the bewildering array of native Italian varieties. You would have thought that being from Sicily, which has a hot, dry climate, that we'd be looking at a wine with high extraction, high alcohol, intense stewed fruit aromas and abrasive tannins, but actually it's more like a Burgundy - soft, light, gorgeously aromatic with a fresh, vivid, minerally finish. This is a very surprising and interesting find. It looks unusual, to start with - the bottle is short and plump - and the label is austere. The ABV is only 13%, which is rare for a Mediterranean wine nowadays. The colour is a light, garnet red, and the wine exudes a gentle perfume of smoked bacon, tobacco and toasty oak, followed by a very balanced, impeccably structured mouthfeel with both savoury and sweet sensations - grilled meats, blackberries - and a very pleasant, impressive, elegant, tightly wound, mineral finish. Tim Atkin recently wrote that Sicily was making great wines - this is definitely proof of that. 92 points.
External Reviews for Cos Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico
A Sicilian red made of Frappato and Nero d'Avola. Red berry fruit, ripe acidity, mineral notes, and a bit of tannin on the finish.
The 2006 Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico (Nero d'Avola, Frappatto) is delicate and ethereal in its expression of dried flowers, dried cherries, spices and herbs. The wine might show better balance if it weren't for the slightly green notes that lurk in the background. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2011.
At once mysterious and beguiling yet completely familiar on some sort of visceral level, this blend of nero d'avola (60 percent) and frappatto (40) is vibrant and gripping. Grown on Sicily's south coast in calcareous and silica soils mixed with clay and tufa, this energy in the balance of saline minerality, racy acidity and fragrant flavors of cherry, plum and wild herbs. It finishes light yet remarkably powerful. The fine integration suggests that it will age for several years, although it would be irresistible now with roast lamb loin.