COS 2019 Nero di Lupo, Terre Siciliane IGP, Sicily, Italy - DECANTsf

COS 2019 Nero di Lupo, Terre Siciliane IGP, Sicily, Italy

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COS 2019 Nero di Lupo, Terre Siciliane IGP, Sicily, Italy

Three friends founded Azienda Agricola COS, in 1980: Giambattista Cilia,  Cirino Strano and Giusto Occhipinti. The acronym of their last names is where the name for the winery – COS – comes from.

Winemaker: Giusto Occhipinti.

Farming: Organic

Varities:  Nero d’Avola 100%.

Terroir: Vittoria, in South-Eastern Sicily. Planted 230m above sea level on red soil, medium consistency; formed of subalpine sands of Pliocene origin, of limestone - siliceous nature. Vines are minimum 15 years old. 

Vinification: Harvested the end of September into the first days of October, with spontaneous fermentation on the skins with indigenous yeasts, in concrete tanks.

Aging in Concrete tank and bottle.


From our September 2021 Explorer Pack Bottle Club Notes:

COS was founded in 1980 by three young Italians, Giambattista “Tita” Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano, who decided to experiment with some old grapes on the Cilia family farm (did you catch the acronym?).

    It all began as a fun project to drink with family and friends and sell at Palermo's local enotecas, where the boys used to hang out as students. Slowly, the young men realized their terroir in Southeastern Sicily, an ancient raised seabed filled with limestone, was absolutely unique, and they hadn't tasted anything like their wines on the entire island of Sicily! In fact, despite the island's 3000 years of winemaking, there wasn't much of a commercial wine industry in Sicily in the early 1980s.

    Aside from the sweet wines of Marsala, some of which were made by legend and future mentor, Marco De Bartoli, Sicilian wine was rarely exported or even bottled unless it went to local trattorias. Marco De Bartoli mentored these aspiring winemakers in both technical skills (none of them had studied oenology) and tradition, as well as looking to the world's great wines for inspiration.

    COS wines began as a fairly traditional winery, with foot-stomped grapes, blended wines, and barrel aging. However, as time passed, COS became dissatisfied with this homogeneous, modern style and influence of oak on these diverse grapes like Nero d'Avola, Frappato, Grecanico, and others. They began by looking back in Sicily's history and discovered that ancient wines were fermented and aged in clay pots, or amphora.

    Now, COS holds one of the largest collections of Amphora in the world, and nearly every wine made sees Amphora in the fermentation— and some (the Pithos labels) are aged for years in clay as well. Nearly every wine made today is fermented in Amphora, and some are aged for years in clay. 

    For this particular wine, after a rigorous selection process in the vineyard, the biodynamic fruit ferments spontaneously on the skins and age in concrete tanks to preserve the freshness and aromatics. As a result of its lower alcohol content and softer tannins, COS's Nero differs from other producers' Nero d’Avola on Sicily. Intensely fruity on the attack, with a pronounced earthy funk on the palate, this wine is round and structured, with a dry tea-tannin finish.

    "Natural Wine" is a term thrown around a lot these days, but COS is the benchmark of what we mean when we talk about natural wine (although Giusto hates that term). There is no artificial temperature control. Addition of yeasts is prohibited. The vineyards are farmed with biodynamic care. From the vineyard to the bottle, no additives, chemicals, or anything else is utilized in the process. Many young winemakers have attempted to imitate COS's approach, but none have come close to the originals' reputation and unrivaled success.

Love, adventure, history, and minimal intervention with the perfect terroir and the right people are what set COS apart from the crowd. Tita Cilia and Giusto Occhipinti are true OGs of the well-made, ageable, and fun natural wine movement. 

    In terms of pairing, lean into the earthy tones. Italian fettuccine topped with Porcini mushrooms, aged cheese, and roasted pork with roasted tomatoes and a bottle of COS Nero d'Avola sounds perfect to me!

    If you enjoy this, we always carry wines from COS at DECANTsf. Try the orange wines like Pithos Bianco and the classic Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico (a blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola). We even have Olive Oil from this amazing Sicilian estate!  —Cara Patricia

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