Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti and Cirano Strano Sicily, Italy Azienda Agricola COS was founded in 1980 by Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti and Cirino Strano. These three old school friends started out making wines for pleasure and ended up transforming the future of Sicilian wine. COS is an acronym of their partnership. The trio made quite a splash when the company debuted; they were the youngest winemakers in Sicily at the time. They were rather revolutionary as well. This was a period when Italian producers sensed the potential to enter the world stage. Many ripped up old indigenous varieties in favor of international Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Giambattista and his comrades always believed wine is life, so therefore it must celebrate diversity, rather than a homogenous corporate model. To launch their enterprise, Joesph Cilia, Giambattista’ s father granted them rights to rent the old family winery and vineyard near the historic town of Bastonaca. Giambattista, in turn decided it was his mission to rejuvenate one of Sicily’s famous wines, Cerasuolo di Vittoria and from the start, the young company focused on this mission. In 1985, after studying medicine, Cirino sold his share of the partnership to his sister, in order to focus on a medical career. Not long after, Giambattista and Giusto purchased additional property in the Fontane-Baucna district, 9 extra hectares of unspoiled higher altitude vineyards. After am intense restoration, the company’s offices were transferred here in 2003. In 2005 the company purchased the property adjacent to Villa Fontane. This was an additional 20 hectares and an extraordinary wine cellar dating from the nineteenth century. Immediately, the men began the renovation of the building and the new winery. 2005 marks to first harvest with a Guaranteed Denomination of Origin, unique in Sicily. The company follows the principles of biodynamic viticulture in an effort to find balance with nature and help wine express the character of its soils. The partners were among the first to start experimenting with clay amphorae, neutral vessels that do not add any characteristic flavor to the resulting wines. The first jars came from Spain for the 2000 harvest. Pithos, a Cerasuolo di Vittoria, was their first wine to hae been completely fermented and aged in amphorae. This was a start of a project leading away from conventional production and the first indication of a COS style. The 2007 vintage in the new cellar and marked a chapter in the history of the company. All the old barriques of the 1990s gave way finally to 150 amphoras, one of the largest cellarsdedicated to this vessel in the world. COS also produces a Pithos Bianco from Grecanico grapes. They continue to work without an oenologist, operating more from experience and intuition. The partnership is synonymous to Cerasuolo di Vittoria, because of the passionate focus on rescuing this Sicilian grape from obscurity. However, COS is also known for rigor and quality. They have worked hard to achieve the quality level they have and have their wines be an absolute expression of true Sicilian identity.

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