Monday, October 19, 2009

COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria

I’ve been considering a blog-name change to McDuff’s Food & Cool Climate Wine Trail. Whaddya think? Pretty ridiculous, if I do say so. But if you've been reading here for long, you'll have noticed my consumption of Loire wines outnumbers those from the Rhone and Languedoc by about 10:1. Likewise, in Italy wines from the north outweigh those from the south by damn near 10:none.

Once in a while, though, I do feel the urge to dive into warmer climes. A bottle of 1998 Château du Trignon Gigondas that I opened at a recent IDSK dinner was simply smashing. And here’s a note on something else I’ve wanted to try for an awfully long time.

Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico, Azienda Agricola COS 2006
$30. 13% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Domaine Select Wine Estates, New York, NY.
A blend of 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato from the district of Vittoria on the southern edge of Sicily. Okay, I didn’t taste it blind… but this is unmistakably southern wine. I’d even go so far as to say it’s unmistakably southern Italian. Actually, on the nose this could quite easily pass for a feminine, elegant style of Chianti, full of dusty red cherry and tanned hide scents. The deep south comes through in the mouth. You can feel the sun and baked earth in the wine’s fruit approach – warm, supine, even slightly sweaty. The Frappato serves well here, lightening and brightening the usual dark, throaty attack of Nero d’Avola. Transparent, medium ruby and going slightly pale at the rim, the wine displays very fine acidity for a warm climate wine, coupled to an ever so gentle clamp of tannins on the rear palate. Lots of fresh earth and cherry fruit on the palate. On its second day, the wine showed less fruit exuberance but picked up even more elegance, showcased via a lean, pure, clean texture, along with high-toned aromas of mace, molasses and menthol. Quite mellow and very comforting.

If there’s anything lacking here, it’s the energy and crunch more commonly found in its natural counterparts from the northern territories. Here, that cool, snappy persona finds its contrast and complement in warmth, stasis and restfulness. If there’s any gripe, it’s with the price of admission. At $20, this would find a comfortable place in my regular rotation; at $30, however, it will remain more an occasional dalliance, a wine for those days when a needed burst of sunshine is long overdue.


Brooklynguy said...

I drank this wine once, under unusual circumstances. Some one brought this to my house for dinner and served it blind. There was one immediate problem - it was served next to a 1981 Lopez de Heredia Bosconia GR - and it had a hard time competing. We should have had it before the LdH. Even so, I liked the wine very much, although I had absolutely no idea what it was. I said to my friend who brought it, "This is not a wine from a place that I know well," and then guessed that it was Nebbiolo, young, from a spot outside of Barolo or something. I'd like to try it again, but I agree that there are many other $30 wines that I'd rather drink at this point.

Joe Manekin said...

I like the COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria a lot. For the price, though, I'm with you and Neil that there is a lot of other stuff to drink. In my mind Gulfi makes a delicious, quaffable, if less nuanced, rendition for $10-$12 less than COS (and Occhipinti, for that matter)

David McDuff said...

@BG -- Most wines would have trouble competing with a good, old bottle of Bosconia GR, Neil. It seems we're all in agreement on the COS QPR.

@JoeM -- I dig Occhipinti too, but struggle with the price just as here. Thanks for the tip on the Gulfi, which I've yet to try.

Ted said...

I had a bottle of their Cerasuolo that had been cellared a few years while staying at Agricola COS two summers ago. With the dinner they prepared and the setting, I could not complain.

David McDuff said...

@Ted -- I don't think I'd be complaining either, Ted. I've not been to Sicily (other than for a brief emergency landing in Palermo many, many years ago), but I've stayed on the property at wineries throughout Italy and France. There's really no better way to really get to know the wines and their place... aside from living and working there, of course.

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