Cos, Italy, Nero d'Avola, Nero di Lupo, Sicily, Wine, Wine tasting
It’s a gloriously sunny, Easter Day and I’m walking the dog and thinking of what to open with Sunday lunch. There’s a leg of lamb, slowly roasting, on a bed of potatoes with enough garlic to keep the vampires at bay and it requires something good, honest and earthy – with some lively zip n’ grip – and due to the numbers involved, I’m going to need more than a few bottles!
Less than thirty years ago, the vineyards south east of the province of Ragusa, around the town of Vittoria in Sicily, were in dire need of some of Joan Armatrading’s love and affection. In a seemingly irreversible spiral of decline, they had fallen victim to controversial wine laws – still enforced today – which resulted in buyers rejecting the more delicate wines in favour of over mature fruit to add weight to their blends.
These wines would still be unheard of today, were it not for the efforts of individuals like, Giusto Occipinti.
On a shoestring budget, he and two friends began to vinify grapes from their parents and neighbours’ vineyards, buying in used French barrels, in which to age their wines. By the late 1980’s they had started to invest in new oak barriques inspired by the wines of California’s Napa Valley.
But guess what? The resulting wines just didn’t taste authentic. Realising that you sometimes have to go backwards to go forwards they started to re-taste some of their earliest bottlings and were shocked at the difference.
The wines, aged in old oak, were earthy and herbaceous, with a fresh acidity unmarked by the vanilla polish of new oak. By the mid 90’s, when everyone else was investing heavily in new oak, Giusti and his friends were ditching theirs and moving from cement to amphora in the search to reveal the purest expression of their vines
Cos do not use selected yeast strains and have never used chemicals in their vineyards ‘Our goal is to make wines that express our great terroir, not to impress wine critics’.
Don’t expect big or robust wines from Cos, these are delicate, sometimes ethereal wines. Sharp, spiky, edgy, mineraly, ripe but not overripe, rich but not over-extracted. Pretty wines in a nutshell. Fresh, lively, floral and aromatic – even the reds have a distinctly flinty note. They sit lightly on the palate, vibrant and earthy, the antithesis of the much overused term ‘smooth’ – the wine equivalent of ‘tasty’.
Nero di Lupo is 100% unfiltered Nero d’Avola. Fermented in cement vats and aged for 24 months in tank and bottle, full of rich, earthy, leathery fruit flavours, a touch of spice and a rasp of the great outdoors.
That’s Sunday sorted. Spread the love.