The vines for Magma, April.

Frank Cornelissen - New Arrivals

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43 of us had a wonderful dinner last week with Frank Cornelissen at Contra Restaurant, where they gave us great food - and the wines showed beautifully. We - not the royal We, but an extended group of people who have known Frank's wines for years - think that with each vintage they get better and better, and the wines from 2012 are no exception. Frank is really mastering zero-sulfur winemaking; properly stored, the new wines should show none of the unpredictable funkiness of some past years. The wines provide a direct reflection of the vintage on Etna – as in much of Italy it was hot and dry, and the wines are by far the biggest Frank’s made. They are full-bodied and intensely textured – even the Contadino Rosso is a big wine in 2012 - but it’s almost weird how well the alcohol is integrated in all the wines. The wines have the material to cellar, and I think they’ll develop for years to come. JW

Cornelissen, Frank 2012 Etna Rosso Contadino 10

This is Frank's most moderately priced red and also his only blend, with Nerello Mascalese (70%) dominating the mix and the remainder consisting of local varietals Alicante, Minella Nera, Uva Francese, Nerello Capuccio, and Inzolia (5%), a white grape. The result is rich, fresh, and forward, an energetic combination of heady lavender with earthier notes of applewood smoked bacon, all held together with dusty tannins. Frank noted that for the vintage the grapes were picked at the perfect moment "between the last annual life cycle and the closing, dormant cycle of the vine...at the right physical point but also the perfect cosmic level." I think it's fair to say this wine does indeed exhibit a mixture of otherworldly and earthbound elements in its aromas and textures. JK

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

Cornelissen, Frank 2012 Etna Munjebel Bianco No. 9

This version of Munjabel Bianco is a knock-out, balancing the richness of the vintage with real freshness and verve. The wine is made with extended skin contact, but the orangeness of the wine doesn’t obscure the terroir or the character of old vine fruit grown at high altitude. It’s our favorite to date – a really brilliant expression of Etna. JW

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  • white
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  • $36.99

Cornelissen, Frank 2011 Etna Munjebel Rosso No. 9

The current MunJebel is the first to consist of only one vintage – in this case 2012. Frank believes that previous multi-vintage blends were more prone to volatile acidity. Like the vineyard-specific bottlings, MunJebel is entirely Etna’s noble Nerello Mascalese and shows the wine’s smoky red fruit and dusty tannin.  Also, as in the cru wines, everything about the 2012 is turned up a notch in color, weight, and intensity. Although the wine may not show the distinctive personalities of the other MunJebels, there is something to be said for its balance and consistent expression of Frank’s idea of Etna.  JR

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  • red
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  • $37.99

Cornelissen, Frank 2012 Etna CS (Chiusa Spagnola) Munjebel Rosso No. 9

The newest member of the MunJebel family – acquired by complete coincidence:  Frank was tending one of his plots when he noticed a vineyard with promising looking vines, but grass so unkempt that it towered above the bush-trained vines.  After a bit of inquiring, he found that the land belonged to one of his workers and was able to negotiate a lease.  The vines needed a lot of work, but after the pruning he realized that the vineyard was ungrafted and decided to bottle it as a new MunJebel.  Stylistically it falls somewhere between the MC and VA in weight and acidity.  The flavors also seem to run more herbaceous and savory, but by no means under-ripe.  Delicious, and a happy addition to the lineup.  JR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $59.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Cornelissen, Frank 2012 Etna MC (Monte Cola) Munjebel Rosso No. 9

MunJebel “MC” is sourced entirely from Frank’s plot in the Monte Colla vineyard which produces the densest and most concentrated of his offerings.  At about 800 meters in altitude, it’s a very steep, terraced plot, with 40 year-old vines planted in the traditional alberello (little tree) training, which is thought by many to create wines with improved richness and complexity.  This is not a timid wine, and aromas of black cherry and cassis fly from the glass.  Those same fruit flavors permeate the palate for a powerful wine.  Not for the shy!  JR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $59.99

Cornelissen, Frank 2012 Etna VA (Vigna Alta) Munjebel Rosso No. 9

“VA” stands for “Vigne Alte,” and is comprised of Frank’s oldest vines in the high-altitude crus of Barbabecchi, Guardiola, and Tartaraci. The average vine is quite old at 80+ years and, quite impressively, is grown on native rootstock. We can’t blame the Phylloxera bugs for not wanting to climb the 900+ meters some of these vines reside on. I always find the VA bottling to have the most acid, and a wonderfully lifted floral quality to the wine. In this vintage the wines have gained in depth and concentration, but if you’re after one with a lighter touch, this is it. JR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $59.99

Cornelissen, Frank 2011 Magma Rosso No. 9

Value is in the eye and pocket of the beholder, and some of us, present company included, probably spend more than a sensible amount of money on wine. I buy very few expensive bottles, but there are lots I’d love to have if I had more disposable income. Now, for the first time, comes a high-priced Italian wine that’s not Nebbiolo that I would absolutely purchase if I could. I’m more and more tempted as I write this, but there are some persuasive fiscal counter-arguments too… 

Putting aside this excessively personal digression: Magma #9 is a spectacular wine. Much reminds us of Burgundy, of the Rhône, of Piedmont in terms of the elegance, restrained power, and sheer class of the wine. In the end it’s pure Etna, with great minerality, black cherry, flowers, oriental spices, herbs, quinine, dusty tannin. The wine has a lovely Pinot color, and is very aromatic. I’d guess that 6-10 years in the cellar will render it profound. JW

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $224.99