I recently became reacquainted with some of my favorite wines in the world, the wines of COS, a small producer from the southeast corner of Sicily in the DOCG region of Cerasuolo di Vittoria. A year and a half ago, I was fortunate enough to visit this property and spend some time with its owner, Giusto Occhipinti (below).
Some of his wines, such as the bottle pictured here, are unusual in that they're fermented and aged not in steel tanks or in wooden barrels but in terra-cotta amphorae.
This ancient method of winemaking is indeed unusual, as it involves crushing the grapes into an amphora and then burying it in the ground for several months, as the wine ferments on the skins. What comes out, though, is a beautifully exuberant wine, bursting with fruit freshness and an earthy complexity. The structure comes from bright acid and strong, though sweet, tannins. It's a remarkable product, as are even the COS wines that are made in more (or should I say less?) traditional ways, using oak barrels.
If you can't find the Pithos, which is the one done in amphorae, look for the basic COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria--it's also an immensely satisfying wine, as are all the offerings from this estate. Look for the wine at Biondivino and on the list at A16.