Frank Cornelissen 'Munjebel' Rosso 2021

Frank Cornelissen 'Munjebel' Rosso 2021

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Region: SicilyGrape: Nerello MascaleseVineyard Size: 19 hectaresSoil: volcanicAverage Age of Vines: 60 yearsFarming: organicHarvest: by handWinemaking: destemmed, gentle press, 60 day spontaneous fermentation in epoxy tanks with indigenous yeastsAging: in epoxy tanksFining: noneFiltration: 5 micron cartridgesAdded...

Region: Sicily
Grape: Nerello Mascalese
Vineyard Size: 19 hectares
Soil: volcanic
Average Age of Vines: 60 years
Farming: organic
Harvest: by hand
Winemaking: destemmed, gentle press, 60 day spontaneous fermentation in epoxy tanks with indigenous yeasts
Aging: in epoxy tanks
Fining: none
Filtration: 5 micron cartridges
Added S02: none

From Frank: “A rich and fragrant wine of pure Nerello Mascalese from different vineyards, partly from our best parcels where we produce our crus (Zottorinoto-Chiusa Spagnolo, Feudo di Mezzo-sottana and Porcaria) as well as designated vineyards for this specific wine (Rampante sottana, Piano Daini and Crasà). A classic, traditional Nerello Mascalese with tannins and sweetness of ripe fruit. My vision of a traditional, balanced and rich Northern Valley Etna wine.”


2021 VINTAGE REPORT: We lacked a real winter with no snow in the lower vineyards. The pruning of the vines and winter work was finished in time due to the many days of nice weather. In March we had some frost dammage although very little. A very dry growing season overal put the young vines to a real stress test as well as our team to keep the new plantations alive with water. A really tough job on the terraces… We deliberately planted a new vineyard extremely late, in May, in order to get even a little rain. Green harvest was done more severe for the vines to breath better and suffer less with the drought. The first grapes for the rosato arrived in the cellar on August 17th which was the earliest so far and we finished on October 16th picking the grapes for Magma, another record for early picking. Yields were very low, especially in the beginning of the harvest. Finally at the beginning of October we had the rain to balance out the sugar/acidity and a week after, the fruit was starting to prepare for ripeness. Although at the start of the harvest, our calculations were going towards a 50% less production, we managed to balance the loss of yield and grapes out to around 25% due to the canopy management and sitting out the picking to get the necessary rain.

Although the reds have a relatively high Ph and lower than average acidity, the wines have grip, texture and personality. In the end, even in an extreme vintage like this, incredibly so, the wines are finding their balance.

My preferred wine of this vintage: Magma® and MunJebel® Rosso classico for their overall balance

ABOUT FRANK: 
Frank Cornelissen is the owner of 19 hectares of vines rather high up on Mount Etna. Uniquely, he has been involved in wine his entire life. As the son of a wine broker in Belgium, he had the opportunity to be immersed in wine on a professional level from a very young age. Frank went on to produce his first wine in 2001 when he started with only 0.40 hectares of vines.

Frank is obsessive over details in an effort to make wines that truly express terroir with perspective. He is a meticulous vineyard worker and keeps an extremely clean and organized cellar. The evolution in his wines are intriguing as well. Earlier vintages were linear, angular, precise, and full of minerality. He has often said that in the early days his goal was to create liquid stone. His wines have softened with time now striking balance between fruit and dynamic minerality.
While there are are many important details in his winemaking method, the key is in the vineyards. Frank is not Sicilian, so choosing Mount Etna was deliberate. The main reason to choose the North Valley of Etna was for its it’s incredible and unique diversity of volcanic soils that have an immutable voice. This in tandem with Etna’s primary varietal Nerello Mascalese, he believed he could make wines of great complexity and distiction. He has describes Nerello Mascalese to be somewhere between Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Frank’s best wines have the dry and sharp tannins you find in great nebbiolo, but with the lusher fruits of Pinot Noir.

Frank works without the use of herbicides, pesticides, nor any other chemicals. He occasionally uses biodynamic treatments, but not in the ways outlined by biodynamic calendars as he feels his vineyards have their own unique schedule!

A few words by Frank himself…

“Our farming philosophy is based on our acceptance of the fact that man will never be able to understand nature’s full complexity and interactions. We therefore choose to concentrate on observing and learning the movements of Mother Earth in her various energetic and cosmic passages and prefer to follow her indications as to what to do, instead of deciding and imposing ourselves. Consequently this has taken us to avoiding all possible interventions on the land we cultivate, including any treatments, whether chemical, organic, or biodynamic, as these are all a mere reflection of the inability of man to accept nature as she is and will be. The divine ability to understand the ‘Whole’ was obviously not given to man as we are only a part of this complex and not God himself.”

In the winery his work follows the same philosophy of using what nature provides him. There are no industrial yeasts, sulfites, or anything else added to the wines. All of the wines are fermented in small, neutral tanks and no wood is used in the cellar in order for all the wines to express their specific territory to the full extent. Frank uses neutral epoxy tanks and anforas because he likes the round shape which allows the wines to be nourished with the fine lees moving freely during the aging process.