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swirl and savor

Wine of the Moment, 2006 COS Nero di Lupo

Beth Ribblett

As we were researching wineries to visit on our upcoming wine and culinary tour of Sicily, I knew we could not miss a small, biodynamic producer making some of the most exciting and individual wines in Sicily in the province of Ragusa. C.O.S was created in 1980 by three founders, Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti and Giuseppina Strano, former school friends who shared a passion for the wines of their native territory. Starting in a garage as students, they’ve taken advice along the way from Giacomo Tachis, the creator of Super-Tuscan wines Solaia, Tignanello and Sassicaia. They named their new project COS, using the first letter of each of their surnames.

Owner and marketing director Giusto Occhipinti is one of the stars of the contemporary Sicilian wine scene. A trained architect, he is a traditionalist winemaker, but with modern aesthetic sensibilities. He makes great wine by keeping it simple, adding virtually nothing to his wines but patience and attention, showing the true identity of the region and the land with a sense of style and attention to detail.

All COS wines are made naturally, unfiltered and with very little sulfur added. One COS wine, Pithos, is even fermented in Greek-style terra cotta amphorae, which is about as traditional as winemaking gets. COS also makes a couple of excellent straight nero d'avolas, including our featured wine the Nero di Lupo. As rustic as these wines may sound, they're also some of the best made in Sicily, proving that respect for tradition and excellence can go hand in hand.

The COS Nero di Lupo is 100% Nero D'Avola, but very different from the fat, super ripe, fruit forward style being produced with the American market and high scores in mind. The Nero di Lupo is unfiltered 100% Nero d'Avola made from grapes grown at their local Bastonaca vineyard. Fermented in stainless steel and aged for a further 24 months in cask it has remarkable finesse with rich fruit flavors balanced by flinty notes, balance, and complexity. This has extremely supple tannins and is about as varietally pure a Nero d’Avola as you will ever find. Pure, dark red fruit balanced with fresh acidity. This is distinctive, delicious stuff from a classic Sicilian producer. $26.99

We also carry one of their whites, the Ramí is made from Inzolia and Grecanico farmed at C.O.S.’ Ramingallo vineyard at nearby Comiso. Pale green in appearance, this has a deliciously appealing nose of blossom, peach and apricot. The palate shows mouthfilling fruit, and indeed this is full bodied, soft and rounded. After the initial rush of peach, apricot and melon comes an unexpected but very welcome hint of thyme. The lingering bitter almond finish makes this hugely drinkable and seductive. $24.99

But, if you are interested in either of these wines, you need to visit Swirl because we are the only store in Louisiana that has them!