Frank Cornelissen Winery

Cult Darling Frank Cornelissen

Getting our Frank Cornelissen allocation is always a special time here at Small Wine Shop. These are cult wines. Small production wines of great quality. Little is imported to the United States and all of his wines are sought out by natty wine fans. But who is Frank Cornelissen and what makes his wines so special?

Cornelissen was born in Belgium to a wine importer but moved to the Etna region in 2000 because he grew up in a wine-loving family and wanted to make important terroir-based wines. As he likes classic wines that speak of a specific terroir, it was easy to fall in love with Etna’s landscape and the presence of high-quality indigenous grape varieties. Other factors played in his decision as well: for example, Etna’s long history of viticulture, intact nature with no industry warehouses and inevitable pollution, no long history of pesticide use, and great geologic diversity of the soils. Cornelissen owns roughly 35 hectares under vine and has just bought six more hectares.

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 is 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 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 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 distinction. He has described 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, or 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! He destalks presses lightly, then has the must sitting on the skins for one month or slightly more, depending on the vintage. Only indigenous yeasts are used and wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

While there 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 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 distinction. He has described 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, or 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! He destalks presses lightly, then has the must sitting on the skins for one month or slightly more, depending on the vintage. Only indigenous yeasts are used and wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Check Out Their Wines!

Frank Cornelissen Munjebel Classico Rosso

Vintage: 2020
Region: Etna, Sicily, Italy
Viticulture: Organic and Biodynamic
Grape variety: Nerello Mascalese

Frank Cornelissen Munjebel Classico Rosso is a rich and fragrant wine of pure Nerello Mascalese from different vineyards in Northern Etna.

Song: Feels Alright by Spoon

$98.00

Out of stock

Frank Cornelissen Munjebel FM Rosso

Vintage: 2018
Region: Etna, Sicily, Italy
Viticulture: Organic and Biodynamic
Grape variety: Nerello Mascalese

Frank Cornelissen Munjebel FM Rosso is from the same contrada as the Munjebel PA, but the grapes are sourced from the lower vineyards.

Song: Wild by Spoon

$115.00

1 in stock

Frank Cornelissen Munjebel PA Rosso

Vintage: 2018
Region: Etna, Sicily, Italy
Viticulture: Organic and Biodynamic
Grape variety: Nerello Mascalese

Frank Cornelissen Munjebel PA Rosso is a pure Nerello Mascalese from a single vineyard. Powerful and majestic with loads of character.

Song: The Other Side of Paradise by Glass Animals

$115.00

Out of stock

Frank Cornelissen Susucaru Rosso

Vintage: 2020
Region: Etna, Sicily, Italy
Viticulture: Organic and Biodynamic
Grape variety: Nerello Mascalese and other varietals

Frank Cornelissen Susucaru Rosso is a field blend of mostly Nerello Mascalese with other local varietals. Fragrant, elegant, and fun wine.

Song: Life By The Drop by Stevie Ray Vaughn

$49.00

Out of stock

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