Azienda Agricola COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico 2011
I could dedicate an entire website to COS and Arianna Occhipinti such is my love for their wines. One of my most recent purchases was a few bottles of Arianna’s Grotte Alte Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2010. Arianna will face tough competition in her efforts to conquer my Cerasuolo collection though where her uncle Giusto’s wines currently reign supreme.
A couple of weeks ago I opened a bottle of COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico 2011. When I tasted this wine last April, I felt that it was ever so slightly outshone by Pithos Rosso 2012 – an identical blend of 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato, but one which is fermented and aged in terracotta amphorae and carries an overriding feeling of freshness and purity as its trump card. The Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico is fermented in concrete and then the Nero d’Avola ages in 30hl oak casks and the Frappato ages in 95hl concrete tanks before being combined for 6 months further ageing in bottle.
The duration of maceration is also a different, with the Pithos Rosso undergoing long skin contact. My own notes record it as 3 months, but I see that the COS website now lists a 7 month total duration for alcoholic fermentation and maceration. Either way, the maceration time for the Cerasuolo is much shorter, again differing for the Nero d’Avola and Frappato but neither exceeding 28 days.
Lauding the freshness and purity of Pithos might inadvertently do a disservice to the Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico though as it’s certainly not conspicuously lacking in those regards – it just expresses them slightly differently. This recent bottle of 2011 was stunning – really aromatic and floral. The savoury wildness I detected in April – which I quite like I should add! – began to emerge with time in the glass. A beautifully balanced, elegant (but earthy), vibrant, mid-weight wine with outstanding length and enough grip to suggest that it will sustain itself for a few more years yet. I must admit I have little concept of the ideal drinking windows for Cerasuolo. I would’ve initially thought 2-4/5 years max, but lately I’ve heard encouraging talk on the merits of ageing these wines. The tough bit for me is keeping my hands off them for long enough.
I’ve really enjoyed every vintage of COS’ Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico that I’ve tried to date, so I’ll have no hesitation in stocking up on the 2012 vintage which arrived in Ireland last week and is available from On The Grapevine in Dalkey, Co. Dublin.