2019 COS, Pithos Bianco, Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily, Italy.
From the Vittoria region of Sicily and set on a combination of sedimentary clay, Sandstone and chalky Limestone soils comes COS’s Pithos, greek for amphora, Bianco that as the name suggests is a white wine made in the large terra-cotta pots as done in ancient times and like still done in the Republic of Georgia, where COS got the inspiration. Macerated for close to two weeks with whole berries and aged on the skins this incredible dry wine shows a unique, intensity and powerful structure from the extract and is wonderfully textured on the zesty palate. Made from 100% of the Grecanico grape, a local variety of Garganega (of Soave fame), quite rare, but remarkably well suited to the southern tip of the island, where it gets a cooling ocean influence and breezes that help retain a salty freshness. This single vineyard wine was sourced from the estate’s Fontane vineyard that sites at 230 meters elevation above sea level and see a cooling influence and has iron rich red sandstone, clay and sand which helps gives layers of . It’s been well documented that Sicily has a long history of winemaking, which dates back to the 8th century BC when the Greeks first planted grapes in the eastern part of the Island, though in recent years there has more hype for the volcanic soils of Mount Etna and the Nerello Mascalese red grape and Carricante white grape, while Vittoria is home to a few outstanding wineries of its own, including those of the Occhipinti family!

Azienda Agricola COS was founded back in 1980 by three friends, Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano, but is led by the dynamic personality of Giusto Occhipinti, uncle to superstar Arianna Occhipinti, who was pushed COS towards natural winemaking and all organic with all of their vineyards being certified Biodynamic and has gone away from small oak barrels and stainless steel, now concentrating on cement vats, large neural botti and the 440-liter, Spanish made, terra-cotta amphora, as used in this wine. The Pithos, made from Grecanico, was hand crafted using a low sulfur vinification and with a skin contact fermentation in amphora employing Indigenous yeast and then raised on the skins solely in the clay amphora for close to 7 months before being drained and bottled. The winery explains that the long skin contact and amphora, which allows movement of the lees, provides an additional level of complexity that can be seen clearly in this exotic white wine. Mostly acclaimed for their red wines, made from local varietals, COS is probably best known for their Cerasuolo di Vittorio as well as the Pithos Rosso, a Cerasuolo di Vittoria aged exclusively in amphora instead of oak, made with the Frappato and Nero d’Avola grapes, though COS does a beautiful selection of whites. These are made from Zibbibo (the local Muscat) and Insolia, that are sometimes blended with the Grecanico too, with the Zibbibo, a highly aromatic grape, also getting the Pithos treatment, made in Amphora, I highly recommend discovering all of the COS wines.
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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