Frank Cornelissen: remarkable wines from Etna, Sicily


Frank Cornelissen was in London promoting his 2019 single-vineyard wines, which he describes as the culmination of fine-tuning, discussion and research over 22 years. There’s also a new wine on show: Perpetuum. This is the result of ‘a search for more precision and wines that represent the territory better,’ says Frank.

For the 2019 single-vineyard wines, it was the second time he used sulfites on all the wines. ‘We have changed the ageing process,’ he says. ‘We give the wines much more time in bottle. Nerello has these subtleties that come out much better when the wines are aged in bottle. These wines used to be on the market a bit too early.’ Underground storage, at quite a high cost, has made this delay possible.

So, Perpetuum. ‘It is a project and a style of marketing,’ says Frank. ‘I grew up with my father as my tutor. He liked to drink older wines.’ Because Frank was born in 1961, this was a time when classic wines weren’t crazily priced, and this meant he tasted a lot of good things.

‘Munjebel Classic was a blend of two vintages. Perpetuum is a solera.’ It contains 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019, skipping 2018 because it lacked the right tannins. This wine we tasted is the second, P2.

Frank doesn’t use any wood in his wines: just fibreglass. Has chose a section of the the cellar that’s colder, at 12 C, for the solera, and it’s a 7000 litre tank. Temperature is important because if it was higher, the volatile acidity would rise.

Frank’s first vintage was 2001, and now he farms 24 hectares over 18 different sites. Winemaking has changed quite a bit since the earlier days. From 2018 he has used a sorting table. He’s tightened things up, now uses sulfites more often, and he has recently been working with Guillaume Thienpoint.

The MunJebel wines are all single contrada, which is indicated by a two letter code. Presumably this is because they are not Etna DOC and so the contrada name can’t be on the label. It is marked on the closure, though: Frank uses the complex plastic Ardea Seal closure for these wines.


MunJebel Bianco 2019
Caricante and Grecanico Dorato. Stony and detailed with some compact citrus fruit and a mineral edge, showing good acidity. Very stony. 90/100

MunJebel MC Monte Colla 2019
This is from steep south-facing old vines planted on compacted sandy clay soils at 760 m. Structured and direct with good tannin under sweet cherry and plum fruit, showing nice grip. There’s elegance and purity here, allied to firm tannins. Expressive. 94/100

MunJebel FM Feudo di Mezzo 2019
40+ year old vines at 580 m on deep volcanic soils. Supple, pretty and expressive with nice floral cherry and raspberry fruit. This has a lovely ease to it, but also some firm structure. There’s a sweetness to the fruit, with a tapering finish. Very pretty but also structured. 94/100

MunJebel CR Campo Re 2019
70+ year old vines, some ungrafted, deeper soils at 730 m. Lovely floral aromatics with red cherries and plums. This is expressive with lovely red fruits and a silky edge, as well as good structure. There’s a nice sweet core and layers of flavour, with fine spices, elegance and also structure. 95/100

MunJebel VA Vigne Alte 2019
Ungrafted 90+ year old vines at 870-1000 m. Sweetly aromatic with fine red cherries and some warmth on the palate. Shows red cherry and fine herbs with a core of sweet fruit and good structure in the background. Elegance, power and lovely weight. 95/100

Magma 2019
This is the top wine, made from ungrafted vines planted in 1910 at 870-910 m above Solicchiata. Since 2007 this has been from Contrada Barbabecchi, though. Very fine and pure with lovely red cherry and a touch of redcurrant. Fine and lean, but with some lovely fruit. Expressive and pure with good structure. 96/100

MunJebel P2 Perpetuum NV
This is the new wine. Complex and spice with a slight lift, some dried herbs and nice density. There’s some tannic structure and this has warmth and spice with good fruit but also some secondary spicy notes. Lovely elegance with a long, grainy, spicy finish. 95/100

MunJebel CS Contrada Zottorinoto 2012
First vintage of this, from very old ungrafted vines planted in 1925 at 620 m. This is spicy, slightly wild and animal. Sweet cherries and plums. Edgy with grippy tannins, and a sweet core. 90/100

MunJebel CS Contrada Zottorinoto 2013
Earth, herbs and spice on the nose. Supple with some maturity on the palate. Sleek, spicy and vivid with firm tannins and some acid lift. Lots of grip, but also some flesh, with sweet fruit and nice tannins. 93/100

MunJebel CS Contrada Zottorinoto 2014
Lively with some fine spiciness. Sweet and quite lush, with cherries, plums and nice tannic structure. Lots of fruit here still. 93/100

MunJebel CS Contrada Zottorinoto 2015
Vivid sweet and sour character with lively meaty, spicy cherry fruit. Some grip, some volatility, but it’s also drinking beautifully, although I wouldn’t hold it longer. Characterful. 92/100

MunJebel CS Contrada Zottorinoto 2017
16% alcohol this vintage. Very ripe, rich and smooth with bold black cherry and plum fruit. Lush and luxurious with pure sweet fruit. Very fine and layered. 94/100

MunJebel CS Contrada Zottorinoto 2020
So ripe, sweet and easy. Plush with sweet cherries and plums, as well as some strawberry. Nice lushness. Supple, smooth, ripe and silky. 94/100

UK agent: Raeburn Fine Wines

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