2013COSpithos2013 COS, Pithos Rosso, IGT Sicily, Italy.
I sat in recently to hear Guisto Occhipinti speak and show his wines, it was a wonderful experience and a huge education on the region of Vittoria with the bonus of tasting a dozen of his wines together, making it easy to understand and sample them in context. The Island of Sicily, as explained by Guisto Occhipinti is like it’s own continent with many single and unique terroirs, there are five mountain ranges and a huge active volcano, plus warm and cool areas to consider, as well as many differing soils, so he maintains both the land and culture has many influences from the geological history as well as the many invasions and populations have affected the society in this mysterious island. The COS wines are all now farmed biodynamic, they see almost no oak, most raised in glass lined cement and a few done in ancient style Amphora, like this wondrous Pithos Rosso, and all the wines are natural within reason with just a tiny amount of sulphur added before bottling, and native yeast fermentation only. COS and Guisto’s niece Arianna Occhipinti are Sicily’s leaders in natural wines, and they have brought world attention to the region of Vittoria and have highlighted the beauty of the Frappato grape to the wine world, as well as shown Nero d’ Avola in it’s purest expression. The blend of Nero and Frappato, like as in Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, with it’s old seabed/limestone soils, can be a fantastic wine, and both COS and Arianna excel in these cuvees, but I wanted to showcase the COS Pithos and in particular the new release the 2013 vintage, it is a majestic example of clay pot wine, the Pithos is fermented and aged on it’s skins in terra-cotta cuves, Amphora, that are inspired by the the Georgian traditional Kvervi aged reds, an ancient method that goes back at least 3, 000 years, with Guisto using specially made Spanish Amphora and resting the wines under ground for about 12 months. The result is a savory spiced wine of sound color and stability with almost no added sulphur, this is really old school, and they also do a white blend in the exact style, an orange wine, that is also lovely, but it is this 2013 COS Pithos (60% Nero 40% Frappato) that really stood out, it is delicate, focused and gorgeous with silky tannins, vividly pure fruit and a lovely long finish. The nose has hints of chalk dust, wild herbs, dried roses and wild flowers, soft raspberry and Asian spice leading to a refined palate of light to medium weight body, similar to Pinot Noir in mouth feel, with tangy strawberry, plum and red currant fruit, a touch of pomegranate, fennel and roasted herbs along with dance of minerals, and a stylish play of elements that make for a glorious and seductive wine. Drink this COS Pithos over the coming decade, it should be an every changing joy for many years too come, it is drinking exceptionally well and charming even now, though it might be best between 2016 and 2021.
($43 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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