Cantine Ermes Epicentro Nero d’Avola Riserva, Sicilia DOC 2016

Deep garnet color; black plum, black cherry, licorice, vanilla, cinnamon on the nose; black plum, blackberry, black cherry, blueberry, oak, vanilla, chocolate on the palate.

Cantine Ermes Epicentro Nero d’Avola Riserva, Sicilia DOC 2016

Dry; bold wine; well-behaved tannins and acidity; balanced. Very ripe, juicy, jammy dark fruit. Medium-plus body. Grapes hand-picked, placed in small boxes and gently de-stemmed to preserve skins. Fermented in temperature controlled tanks. After maceration, fermented in oak tonneaux (large barrel), including malolactic fermentation, and aged for 18-20 months. 14% ABV

The winery website explains the name and direction of this effort: “Epicentro is not just a wine, Epicentro is a story. It is the story of territory—and even more of a land—that has been able to transform a catastrophic and devastating event such as an earthquake into a starting point for cultural, economic and productive growth. How can this commitment be made immediately perceptible to anyone in the world who wants to discover a fragment of history? Through a unique product, a red wine, a reserve with a strong name, Epicentro, which transcends the negative meanings entrusted to it, showing the heart of the province of Trapani, one of the most viticultural areas in Italy. Epicentro is a eulogy to dreamers, to all those who have managed in fifty years to change the meaning of the term, to get involved, or rather, in this specific case, to ‘take the field’ with great effort but with passion and dedication.'”

Cantine Ermes member vineyard (from website)

Cantine Ermes Società Cooperativa Agricola began in 1998 in the Belìce Valley of Sicily. The website notes “nine courageous winegrowers” decided to join forces after the area was severely affected by an earthquake in 1968. Today, the cooperative has 2,373 members and 31,250 acres in three Italian regions—Sicily, Puglia, and Veneto—with one-third of the vineyards organic. The cooperative produces 11.5 million bottles a year and sell in 29 countries.

Cantine Ermes president Rosario di Maria
Cantine Ermes general manager Paolo di Maria
Cantine Ermes technical manager Giuseppe Clemente

Rosario de Maria is the Cantine Ermes president. Paolo di Maria is the general manager. Giuseppe Clementi is the technical manager. With so many grower-members of the cooperative, the key figures in an operation such as this are those who manage the operation.

The website notes: “Thanks to the wind, a constant companion for most of the year, which blows from the sea to the highest hills of the countryside to mitigate and refresh the grapes in the hot Sicilian summers, we can find in our wines unique characteristics, distinctly Mediterranean and important structure, balanced by excellent freshness and balanced flavour.”

The closeness to the sea delivers minerality and slight salinity. The website notes: “In Sicily, in the sunny hills of the Belìce Valley, where the pedoclimatic characteristics and the morphology of the land, together with the typically Mediterranean climate, create the ideal conditions for organic farming, with significant day-night temperature ranges and good plant ventilation thanks to the sea breezes, we grow the vineyards from which we produce our organic varieties.”

Cantine Ermes Epicentro Nero d’Avola Riserva, Sicilia DOC 2016 is dense, fruity to jammy expression of Sicily’s signature red grape. Smooth with reserved tannin and acidity; easy drinker. Grapes so ripe this tastes sweet, although it is dry wine. While it is relatively simple with its focus on the ripe fruit, there is plenty to savor on the palate. Pair with lamb, lamb stew; beef dishes, grilled steak; pasta dishes with meat and tomato sauce; veal; Italian food in general. Cheese—mature cheeses; cheddar, fontina, gruyere, muenster, aged ragusano; livarot, sheep’s milk cheeses in general. $15-20

Cantine Ermes website

Cantine Ermes harvest
Cantine Ermes winery
Cantine Ermes fermentation tanks
Cantine Ermes vineyard
Cantine Ermes harvest