Our exploration into the wines of Cantine Ermes continued last week, as we opened five wines from their Vento di Mare and Quattro Quarti collections. We previously tasted three Ermes wines last Thanksgiving. Cantine Ermes is one of the biggest organic wineries in southern Italy. Their wallet-friendly, tasty wines drink above their price point (from $12-$18) and are available in the U.S. Read on for details.
Cantine Ermes represents one of the biggest wine co-ops in Southern Italy. It is located in the heart of Sicily’s Belice Valley, an area known for the 1968 earthquake that wiped out a vast surface of the island. Thirty years later, a group of nine young winemakers regenerated the damaged land. As a result, the region is now a fruitful and sustainable ground for winemaking by its 2,355 member growers. One-third of their vineyards are certified organic.
Cantine Ermes offers two wine collections, Vento di Mare and Quattro Quarti.
Vento di Mare translates into “wind from the sea.” Wind is key in the production of Vento di Mare, being close to the western coast of Sicily. The soil is indeed exposed to winds coming from the south-east (Sirocco) and from the north (Tramontane). This is an organic collection that includes both indigenous and international grapes, such as Grillo, Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Moscato. These wines come from vineyards cultivated in areas composed by clay, lime and sandy soil.
Meanwhile, the name Quattro Quarti refers to four different areas and terroir where these grapes are grown. This is a smaller collection with three wines: Grillo, Nero d’Avola Appassimento and Nero d’Avola Epicentro.
We tasted the following wines.
Cantine Ermes Pinot
For $12, you can’t possibly go wrong with a crisp Pinot Grigio or a lovely Pinot Noir from Sicily. Both these wines are from the Vento di Mare organic wine collection.
Aged in stainless steel tanks, Cantine Ermes Vento di Mare Pinot Grigio 2020 is refreshing, bursting with flavors of grapefruit, lemons, apples and pears, with a hint of salinity and bright acidity. The Pinot Grigio grapes grow in relatively deep alluvial-based soils with a mix of limestone and sand.
Cantine Ermes Vento di Mare Pinot Noir 2019 features strong, rich flavors of raspberries, black cherries and plums. The Pinot Noir grapes grow in shallow soils with calcareous clay and iron. This wine is also aged in stainless steel tanks.
We took the Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir to a small dinner party, and they both paired well with the main course, Cornish game hen. Both wines were a hit. The Pinot Noir came first in a side-by-side tasting with a Sonoma Pinot and one from Washington state.
Cantine Ermes Nero d’Avola
We also did a side-by-side tasting of two 2019 Nero d’Avolas, and both were delicious. Our palates preferred organic Vento di Mare Nero d’Avola ($12). But we also really enjoyed Quattro Quarti Nero d’Avola Appassimento ($17). Subsequently, they both paired perfectly with marinated flank steak.
Cantine Ermes Vento di Mare Nero d’Avola DOC 2019 is 100% Nero d’Avola. The grapes grow in shallow soils with calcareous clay and iron. Aged in stainless steel tanks, this medium-bodied wine had minimal oak contact, which we prefer. Aromas of red cherries and raspberries are mirrored on the palate, along with blackberries, blueberries, and a hint of cherry cola, spice and minerality.
Cantine Ermes Quattro Quarti Nero d’Avola Appassimento 2019 combines the Nero d’Avola grape from four different territories of Sicily. The name for this hearty wine comes from the appassimento winemaking style, with partially dried grapes. Appassimento is the natural process of dehydration. Aromatics of ripe red fruit lead into flavors of more red fruit, black fruit, plums, spices and cocoa.
Cantine Ermes Grillo
Cantine Ermes Vento di Mare Grillo 2020 ($12) is a crisp, dry white wine, made from 100% organic Grillo, one of Sicily’s best-known indigenous grapes. This tasty wine features aromas of melon and citrus, which are mirrored on the palate. While we enjoyed a few sips as an apéritif, we liked it even better when we paired it with coconut prawns and a sweet Thai chili sauce. This Grillo is from Cantine Ermes’ Vento di Mare organic wine collection.
Likewise, at a previous tasting last Thanksgiving, we found Cantine Ermes Quattro Quarti Grillo 2019 ($18) to be a vibrant, elegant wine. It’s a refreshing mosaic of the Grillo grape from four different territories of Sicily. Aromatics of white fruit, peaches, almonds, sea salt and orange peel lead into flavors of grapefruit, limes, lemons, peaches and minerality. We preferred this Grillo, but they both are great-value wines. So we recommend trying a side-by-side tasting of your own.
Further Previous Tastings
Cantine Ermes Vento di Mare Nerello Mascalese 2019 ($12) sings, with velvety rich notes of black cherries, cola, spices and dark chocolate. The more we tasted this beautiful wine, the more we loved it. Nerello Mascalese is an ancient variety once used by farmers to make wine at home to enjoy with families during the holidays. Therefore, we tasted it in November, and subsequently paired it with our Thanksgiving leftovers.
Meanwhile, our Thanksgiving table featured Cantine Ermes Epicentro Nero d’Avola Riserva Sicilia DOC 2016 ($18). This is an outstanding red wine – one of the best Nero d’Avolas we’ve tasted. On the nose, you’ll find aromatics of cherry, prune and cocoa with hints of minerality. In addition, the aromas are mirrored on the palate. As you can see from the photo, we opened it at the same time as Cantine Ermes Quattro Quarti Grillo 2019.
In conclusion, we can’t say enough good things about Cantine Ermes wines. The reds are rich, complex and beautiful. The whites are refreshing, crisp and delicious. Moreover, these wines are all wallet-friendly and available in the U.S. We recommend you discover them too.
Thank you for the samples, Cantine Ermes and Platinum Media Agency.
Margot and Dave