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Frank’s wines are like none we have ever tasted, and there is no doubt they have raised a stir throughout the industry. These wines express the absolutely unique land of Mt. Etna in a way that no other wine has. You really have to taste the wines and watch the color and flavor evolve in your glass to understand them. Yields are extremely low, and the United States allocation is extremely small.
"Cornelissen was born in Belgium 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. His winemaking has changed over the years, moving from the production of highly “natural-like” wines that spoke more of the technique employed (and ironically enough not much about the specific terroirs) to wines that are now truly magnificent (some of Italy’s most interesting red wines, in fact). Vinification is essentially the same for all his wines: he destalks, presses lightly, then has the must sit on the skins for one month or slightly more, depending on the vintage. Only indigenous yeasts are used and wines are bottled unfined. The range of wines I tasted on my visit to the estate were amongst the most exciting Italian wines I tasted this year."
"The wines of this idiosyncratic Etna producer have a strong cult following. Cornelissen farms roughly 15 hectares, of which 12 are vines trained in the alberello, or bush-vine, system typical of the area. New vineyards are planted without grafts, buckwheat is used to help soils low on organic material, yields are low, and the grapes are harvested late, from mid-October to mid-November. Cornelissen generally avoids all treatments, and only in exceptionally difficult vintages does he use copper sulfate and sulfur treatments."
Beyond Barolo and Brunello by Tom Hyland (2012)
"You only need to be with Frank Cornelissen for fifteen or twenty minutes to start to understand what drives this man. A former mountain climber from Belgium, Cornelissen brings the same determination he used to conquer the peaks of the Alps to his natural winemaking. Everything about what he does at his vineyards and winery in Etna district is with the highest degree of purity; he does not add sulfites to any of his wines and he uses no oak barrels or stainless steel tanks in his cellar. Thus he needs to bring in the cleanest, purest grapes he can to produce his distinctly individual wines."