In a recent fit of Italian inspiration I devised to try wines from opposite ends of Italy.  From the North, I chose a favorite from Produttori Carema, grown in the foothills of the Alps.  And I went as far south as I could to Sicily, with a bottle of COS Pithos.  Now, these are two of my favorite bottles of wine, I think they both made my top ten list for 2011.  And geographically they are about as far apart as any two Italian wines could be.  But they actually pair quiet well together and share more in common than one might think.  What makes them unique is perhaps the extremes at which they are grown:  in Carema, the vines are grown in unique high altitude terraced vineyards that are unlike anything else I have ever seen.  And as for Sicily it is a very extreme island with high temperatures matched with extreme terrain.  Both wines are exercises in restraint as well; tempered alcohol levels, matched with good acidity, and purity of fruit.  There is no makeup here, and simply put, they are wines that invite another sip.  I have had both of these wines several times over the past year or so, and I continue to be surprised at just how much I enjoy them.  I reach for them over more expensive, more prized bottles again and again.  Their approachability in both palate and price cannot be beat.  So in the battle for Italian wines North and South, everyone wins I guess.