In Love with Frappato: COS 2007

Thank you to Eric Asimov for recommending this article in The New York Times, Diner’s Journal 23 March 2012 http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/what-were-reading-399/

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Several winters ago I lived at the top of a mountain in the Chugiach Range at the edge of Anchorage, Alaska. Winds were so severe at the worst of it that we would have to wake several hours early to clear the driveway that had been blown over by snow a couple feet deep. In the evenings I would drive the mountain road at the end of my work day, never sure if the roads would be clear, to arrive home in the dark (Alaskan winter days are quite short, after all).

The house celebrated picture windows in the front that looked over a rolling meadow and then down the drop of the mountain side over looking the city below. Across the expanse of dark, the view of town was dotted by multi-colored lights our grandmother called her jewel box. The log house was warmed by a wood fire stove in the corner of the room that radiated heat through the building along with a faint orange glow.

Azienda Agricola Cos 2007 Frappato

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At the end of such a day the surprising balance of the COS Frappato–richness of flavor dancing light in the glass–would be a welcome refreshment. But, best of all, the Frappato here shows itself as a wine that suits any season–it’s body is light enough for the warmth of summer; its flavors rich enough for the cold of winter; enough acidity and depth for Fall foods; the easy brightness of Spring.

A biodynamic winery on the Southeastern tip of Sicily, COS focuses on creating wines from indigenous grapes with low intervention wine making techniques. Though the grape variety Frappato is most commonly found in the DOCG blend Cerasuolo di Vittoria some producers, COS included, bottle it on its own as a full varietal.

Though the COS grounds arise from a both hot and dry area, the wines offer a lightness that belies their climate. In the wineries early years the three owners–Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti and Cirino Strano–experimented with various wine making techniques, most notably the common use of oak for fermentation and aging. What is interesting here is that they quickly realized that their grounds carried unique flavor complexity that was best shown in the wine without oak influence. Since, the wine makers have focused their attention on cultivating what they see as the best expression of their terroir.

Though some of the COS wines are made using clay anfora for fermentation, the Frappato relies instead on concrete, temperature controlled tanks. The effect is to offer a fresh, rich flavored, light bodied wine showing the best of the grapes’ flavors and structure.

The COS 2007 Frappato offers an easy bodied wine with savory and fresh fruit flavors. The nose and palate carry elements of smoked meat, lightly sweet baking spices, strawberry, and red cherry. The medium tannin is pleasantly drying alongside just enough acidity for balance. I very much enjoyed this wine.

The 2007 vintage is no longer readily available. I count myself lucky to have had it recently. But, Jancis Robinson has written glowing notes for the 2008 that also show a consistency of style and expression with the 2007.

This wine would drink well alongside eggplant and tomato dishes, grilled meats or charcuterie, and grilled tuna. It’s also a wine to enjoy on its own.

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