2018 Cos Nero di Lupo Terre Siciliane
Region: Vittoria > Sicily > Italy
Grapes: Nero d'Avola
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: certified organic farming with some biodynamic practices; limestone soil under red clay, fermented and aged in concrete, 300m elevation, 15-year-old vines; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal added So2; 12% ABV
Winemaker: Giusto Occhipinti
The Sicilian vineyards of Etna may get all the fame, but the bulk of Sicily's quality wine production is actually in Vittoria, homebase for Cos. A partnership between three friends, Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti and Cirino Strano, they are the OG producer in Vittoria (the initials of their last names spell COS) and their founding in 1980 re-framed the discussion on Sicilian wine. It showed the rest of the world that quality wine could be made here and the terroir was good for more than just the mass agriculture more typical of the region. COS broke even more barriers by never using chemicals on the soils, certifying as organic, and now using some biodynamic treatments which they prepare themselves. And naturally, because the vines are treated so well, they make some damn good wine.
Like this pure expression of Nero d'Avola, Sicily's ubiquitous red grape, which mostly shows up as jammy, juicy or even a bit slutty, dripping in fruit, oak or alcohol -- or all of the above. But here, in the restrained fashion of Cos, it shows loads of varietal purity with dark cherry, moist earth, fennel and something a little savory and salty, like black olive or caper. In a region where summer temps often hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit (or more), the Cos team incomprehensibly produces a light-bodied, fresh Nero d'Avola that as easily -- and elegantly -- as a Cru Beaujolais.