Estate: Pioneering Belgian winemaker Frank Cornelissen is renowned for his strict adherence to extremely minimal intervention, natural winemaking methods. His 15 hectare estate is located on the north slope of Mount Etna in Sicily. The 12 hectares of vineyards have an elevation range from 1900 to 3200 feet above sea level. Cornelissen’s goal for the land “is to evolve towards a self-sustainable agricultural reality based on the trilogy of Mediterranean farming (cereals, olive oil and wine) without exploiting Mother Earth, to produce whilst also returning, evolving towards equilibrium of the land, which will take time”.
Philosophy: “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.”
Winemaking: With a vision of crafting “liquid rock”, he does not use any treatments of any type in the vineyards, nor does he add anything, including sulphur, during the winemaking process. Wines are aged in clay amphorae that are buried in the volcanic soil of the cellar. Contadino is an “entry-level” red comprised mostly of Nerello Mascalese along with other indigenous varietals, a few of which such as Minella bianco, are white varietals. Grapes for Contadino are sourced from old vines with an average age of 50 years. “Contadino expresses Etna as made in a traditional way of blending different varietals: fragrant, elegant, structured with personality.”
*Because no SO2 is added, Frank advises keeping the wine below 16 °C [61 F] during transport and storage, and not decanting it.
Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with engaging aromas of cherry, graham cracker, rose petal and some Brothers Johnson funk. Light to medium bodied, tingly acidity and dry tannins are the foundation for a striking melody of flavours. Mouth puckering sour cherry fuses with wild raspberry and floral hints. Pignoli nuts and dusty earth fill out the middle palate, whilst smoky earth and red fruit notes linger on the dry finish. Fascinating and delicious!
85% Nerello Mascalese with a “field blend” of Nerello Capuccio, Allicante Boushet, Minella nera, Uva Francesa and Minella bianco.
IGT Terre Siciliane *Beginning with the 2015 vintage the Denomination will be Etna DOC
Estate Bottled by Azienda Agricola Frank Cornelissen
Enjoy now thru 2017
For a closer peek at Frank Cornelissen, check out Eric Asimov’s August 2016 article, The Evolution of a Natural Winemaker in the New York Times