There's no better introduction to Sicily's Vittoria than the dream project started by Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano (COS) in 1980. These groundbreakers put the once obscure Frappato and Nero d'Avola on the world map!
Driving from Mt. Etna to Vittoria reminded me just how varied the landscape and terroir of Sicily were. Temperatures rose, and the climate turned arid. It was hard to believe the place I was heading was beloved for the freshness and clarity of its wines.
They key? There's a constant breeze going through the Hyblaean mountains, and the vines here are on red clay and sand over a deep bedrock of limestone. The wind helps moderate the inland temperatures, the red sand cooling immediately after sunset, and the limestone is responsible for low pH levels in the wine, giving high acidity and nervy minerality.
I visited Giusto Occhipinti just as they were bottling a new vintage. The wines we tasted were fermented in cement and aged in large Slavonian oak casks, similar to one's used for traditional Barolo and Brunello. This technique ensures the wines accentuate crisp, refreshing notes that make the wines a joy to drink.