Azienda COS is one of the most important wine making estates in Sicily. Located in the South East of the island, close to the town of Vittoria, the winery’s terroir-driven expressions of local grape varieties Nero d’Avola and Frappato have put the region on the international wine map. The project was founded in 1980 when three friends, Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti and Cirino Strano, came together to purchase fruit and plant vines. Their commitment to biodynamic practices has not only been instrumental in creating quality wines, it has also inspired a generation of wine growers in Sicily to pursue sustainable farming.
The COS estate covers 34 hectares, 24 of which are grouped together on the estate. The rest is not far away. In addition the company rent a small amount of Zibibbo near the town of Marsala on the western edge of Sicily. Zibibbo, the Sicilian name for Moscato di Alessandria, is growing rapidly in popularity due to the handful of high quality wines that are vinified dry, rather than the sweet wines that have become synonymous with Pantelleria. Along with Marco da Bartoli and Arriana Occhipinti, COS produce one of the most impressive dry expressions of the grape in Sicily - Zibibbo in Pithos.
The vineyards are located just to the north of Vittoria, close to the village of Acate. Positioned between the Ippari and Drillo rivers that flow out out of the Hyblaean Mountains down towards the Mediterranean Sea, the appellation’s biggest threat comes from surges in humidity.
The wine-making traditions of COS are rooted in Cerasuolo di Vittoria however. The wine has been produced in the Classico area of the DOCG every year since the beginning and today, COS undoubtedly represent the benchmark reference for the wine. The philosophy has always been to showcase the influence of the soils and the vineyard, and for that reason the use of neutral maturation vessels has been a constant.
Three wines are produced using amfora - Pithos Bianco, which is 100% Grecanico, Rami, a blend of 50% Insolia and 50% Grecanico, and the Pithos Rosso blend of 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato. All three enjoy a spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts and are left to macerate in terracotta vessels buried under ground. The white Grecanico comes from the ‘Fontane’ area of the estate, while the Insolia is planted in Bastonaca - both receive the benefit of red soils sitting above a bed of limestone.
In 2010 the first single vineyard Cerasuolo was released from the ‘Fontane’ plot. Planted at 200 metres above sea level, where the climate is generally more temperate than that of the neighbouring hills of Ragusa, this blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola is produced using through a spontaneous fermentation on the skins with indigenous yeasts. It spends around eighteen months in cement tanks as well as eighteen months in large oak casks. The result is a wine of much greater poise, finesse elegance and character than the multi-parcel Cerasuolo di Vittoria.