We recently tasted three unique Italian wines — two were new to us, and the third was a new vintage of a favorite from last year. The first two are from San Felice, the historic estate located in the heart of Chianti Classico: Il Grigio Classico Riserva 2018 and Chianti Classico 2019. Next, we opened Cantine Ermes Nero d’Avola Riserva 2018. Last Thanksgiving, we poured the 2016 vintage, which was one of our preferred wines of 2021. Read on for more details.
Italian Wines: San Felice
The San Felice estate is located in Castelnuovo Berardenga, near Siena; in other words, right in the heart of Chianti Classico territory. The estate has more than 140 hectares of vineyards, and about 17,000 olive trees. At an altitude of about 1,300 feet above sea level, San Felice credits ideal conditions — a perfect combination of soil and micro-climate, together with a wide temperature range – for producing excellent wines and oils. As well, the estate features a luxurious hotel, highly regarded restaurants and spa.
San Felice Il Grigio Classico Riserva 2018 ($26)
This is 100% Sangiovese from Tuscany. It’s the most full-bodied Sangiovese we have tasted in recent memory. San Felice chooses the best grapes from the estate Chianti Classico vineyards for this Riserva. Aromas of red berries, black cherries, spices and earthiness are mirrored on the palate. Powerful, structured and with good acidity, we paired Il Grigio with barbecued flank steak, and it was delicious. But it would also complement most grilled meats and dishes with meat sauces. Or serve it with antipasti and Taleggio cheese. We let it air for three hours before pouring. But it has potential for further development with additional aging of up to 10 years. And in case you were wondering, the front label bears Italian painter Titian’s famous portrait of a medieval knight in armour.
San Felice Chianti Classico DOCG 2019 ($20)
San Felice Chianti Classico DOCG 2019 is bright, approachable, and both wallet-friendly and food-friendly. This Chianti Classico is produced from Italian native grapes: predominantly Sangiovese (80%) with 10% each of Colorino and Pugnitello. Well-balanced, the wine opens with aromas of cherries, cranberries and raspberries, with hints of orange peel and earthiness, which are echoed on the palate and backed by crisp acidity. Pair it with roast beef, or sip on it with some aged cheese. This is a young red wine, so we aired it for several hours to let its flavors emerge. You could also cellar it for 4-5 years.
Italian Wines: Cantine Ermes
Cantine Ermes is one of the biggest organic wineries 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 more than 2,000 co-op member-growers. One-third of their vineyards are certified organic.
Cantine Ermes Epicentro Nero D’Avola Riserva Sicilia DOC 2018 ($17)
“Epicentro” means epicenter. The name refers to the 1968 earthquake mentioned above. This is an outstanding red wine – one of the best Nero d’Avolas we’ve tasted. It drinks well above its $17 price point. On the nose, you’ll find aromas of cherries, coffee and cocoa with hints of minerality, leading into flavors of lots of cherries, espresso, prunes and vanilla. Last Thanksgiving, we poured the 2016 vintage, which we also adored. In addition to turkey, pair this rich, complex wine with spaghetti, grilled meats, lamb stew and aged cheeses. Of note, this compelling red wine tasted even better on the second day.
Summary: Italian Wines
In conclusion, we really enjoyed these three Italian wines. They are wallet-friendly and food friendly. Moreover, these wines are all available in the U.S. We recommend you discover them too.
Thank you for the samples, Cantine Ermes and San Felice.
Margot and Dave