A visit to Sicily isn’t the same as a visit to meet Frank Cornelissen, a Belgian born wine broker who has become one of the top boutique wine producers of Etna. Now most think of Etna as a fast growing wine district and it is, but it still is small in miniscule in comparison to Tuscany. To get to Etna’s wine district it is relatively simple, and all you need is some time. So, we were off to meet Frank and we arrived 30-minutes early to the winery, a small building off the road side.
When we arrived, I questioned Frank, and he was clear about his position on wine, and I won’t repeat verbatim what he said, but it is clear from his website where he writes, There exists much confusion around “natural farming and winemaking” as it contains a vast quantity of interpretations as to how to proceed. Like Jamie Good pointed out in one of the chapters of his book “Wine Science”: Naturalness in wine; how much manipulation is acceptable? It is true Frank is more about his vineyards, and his passion, and isn’t keen to be seen as a mad scientist, or a naturopath, he makes wine in the best way possible.
We drove to the vineyards something I always enjoy, it is where you see rootstock, and before harvest the clusters of berries. I grabbed a few and tasted them as we walked the hill at an altitude of 800meters.
We had the chance to taste numerous 2016 and the upcoming 2017 wines already bottled and ready for release soon. Frank has an excellent member of his team Giacomo, an ex-sommelier who worked in London and has been with Frank for the last year and a half.
Giacomo is impressive, he knows his stuff and does not bullshit about the wines, or his preferences, he is a diehard lover of wines and moved to Etna to enjoy the quality of life you have in Etna and the surroundings.
The wines are tremendous, sometimes unusual, or irregular to what you may be used to drink, but its all a matter of style and preference. I enjoy drinking wines that speak to me, provoke, sometimes push back and make me wonder. I am not a super Tuscan lover, and I enjoy the silkyness and balance of burgundy, but I too love the old-fashioned Beaucastel from the 70’s, and the wines of Clos Rougeard made by the Foucault brothers in the Saumur-Champigny appellation – a wine I adore.
The new lables are looking good and I want to thank Frank and Giacomo for taking the time during harvest to taste with us.