Cos Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico 2007
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. Pithos is a Cerasuolo fermented in Giare which are terracotta amphorae (250l and 400l). The identity of the Frappato is marked on the nose with exuberant expression of violets and raspberry blossom. The mouth is floral, warm and supple, the berry fruit flavours complemented by soft tannins.
Fermented in terracotta amphorae: an extraordinary explosion of violets and raspberry. A bit of bottle variation, but hey that's what natural winemaking is all about.
Tried this wine at Urbane Restaurant in Brisbane and it was fabulous. Went really well with the duck. We are keen to get some of this for home use now. In relation to Urbane, they do a matching wine with their menus, however you will be caught out as they only do half pours or less and charge $12-15 per glass which equates to over $120-150 for a bottle.! We were very unhappy with this but got no sympathy from the restaurant. Felt like they were trying to make as much money as they could. We were glad we got to try 70ml of this wine for $15 though...
Two and a half glasses
Food Pairings for Cos Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico
Dietary Information: Organic
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