2018 Frank Cornelissen Munjabel Bianco
Region: Mt. Etna < Sicily < Italy
Grapes: Carricante, Grecanico DoratoVineyard/Cellar Stats: Beyond organic/biodynamic hands-off farming;
extreme volcanic soil; fermented in epoxy tanks with indigenous
yeasts, with about 4 days of skin contact; bottled unfined/unfiltered
with zero added So2; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Frank Cornelissen
If you’re into natural wine, you’ve probably heard of Frank
Cornelissen, the mad scientist of Etna. But you’ve likely never tried
his wines, because now that you’ve heard of him, they're impossible to
find. This insane popularity is partially due to the affection of
Action Bronson (New York chef-turned-rapper who’s with a foodie show
on Viceland called “F*ck That’s Delicious”) who has broadcast his love
for Frank's wine to his gazillion followers, but also because of their
rarity (miniscule quantities made) and the fact that they are, in
fact, mind-blowingly expressive, unique and f*ing delicious (we're
with you here, Action).
Belgian transplant Frank Cornelissen, a fierce supporter of natural
wines, arms his 64 volcanic acres in a totally minimalist way. As in,
he even considers biodynamics too interventionist. He lets the vines
grow as they wish, untrained, allowing Mother Earth “in her various
energetic and cosmic passages to lead the way, instead of deciding and
imposing ourselves”, he explains. The approach is similar in the
cellar, where he never adds or removes anything, and just lets the
juice and natural yeasts do their things. This raw energy is apparent
in the wine, which is radically alive, electric and super sexy.
Munjabel is Frank's flagship white that spends about 4 days on the
skins, but isn't really an orange wine -- the skin contact gives the
wine some structure and texture without losing the strong sense of
place which often happens when you veer to far into orange territory.
It smells electric, like a hot wire, with flinty sparks bouncing off.
At first sip, the acid smacks your upper palate and you start
salivating, wanting more. Then the wave of salt, smoke and minerals
hit, only to be washed away by another, smaller wave of citrus, ginger
and underripe pear, then the salty, flinty, smoky wave is upon you
once again. The texture is oily, and there is an intense acidity that
cuts through the fruit. It is drinking beautifully now, but like most
Cornelissen wines, this wine is built for aging, and they say that
with time, the wine's true depth is revealed - we wouldn't know,
because we don't have that kind of patience or willpower.
There's no denying the hype around Frank, but it's certainly
justified. He's making wine in an uncompromising style, in the path of
an active volcano, and we've honestly never tasted wines that are more
pure and transparent reflections of their place. The interweb calls
the Munjabel Bianco "rarer than a toothless hen", so we're stoked to
get an allocation this year. Grab a bottle and judge for yourself --
we think you'll agree its a pretty special wine.
*1 bottle per order, please