Grape(s): 100% Nerello Mascalese
Localization: Sicily, Italy
Tasting Notes: Feudo di Mezzo as a contrada is very vast and therefore I prefer to separate the bottom part (sottana) from the upper part (Soprana or Porcaria). Although lower in the valley floor where one would expect bigger wines, the wines are of an unusual elegance which characterizes this area. Relatively deep soil which, in humid vintages can create some problems although the well ventilated site helps to get ripeness. Burgundian elegance and roundness, even in hot vintages makes this a special wine with great finesse.
Notes: Munjebel is the icon of the Etna, created by the Belgian winemaker who has been making wine in Sicily for 20 years. Munjebel is made starting with a “pied-de-cuve” using only indigenous yeasts and skin contact for about 50 days. It's dark and savory and has an almost infinite aging potential. A must-try for lovers of powerful Rhône wines or Barolo fans. Made from 100% Nerello Mascalese, the grape with which Frank Cornelissen thinks he will make the greatest wine in the world.
The Domain: Frank Cornelissen's wines deserve the attention of every serious wine lover. He is one of the great figures in the natural wine world. They are the best in Sicily, and some of the best in Italy. Frank makes wine in the simplest possible way, which is also the most difficult. He strives to avoid every unnecessary intervention in both vineyards and wineries, and he does this without the wines ever losing their precision. They are very skilfully made. Munjebel is his flagship wine, made from Nerello Mascalese grown in various different vineyards. Frank describes it as his vision of a traditional, balanced, and rich Northern Valley Etna wine.
Our farming philosophy is based on our acceptance of the fact that man will never be able to understand nature’s full complexity and interactions. We, therefore, choose to concentrate on observing and learning the movements of Mother Earth in her various energetic and cosmic passages and prefer to follow her indications as to what to do, instead of deciding and imposing ourselves. Consequently, this has taken us to possibly avoid all treatments on the land we cultivate, whether homeopathic, organic, or biodynamic. Accepting and following nature is our guideline as the divine ability to understand the ‘Whole’ was obviously not given to man as we are only a part of this complex and not God himself.
Our estate was established in 2001, when Etna as a wine region was still undiscovered. Our vineyards are located on the Northern valley of the active volcano Etna, in the oriental part of Sicily. The northern valley is considered today Etna’s top area for single-vineyard (contrada) red wines like the “Côtes-de-Nuits” in Burgundy or Piemonte’s “Barolo” area. The surface area of our estate is approximately 24 hectares, of which 13ha are old vines in the classic free standing alberello training system (Gobelet or bush-vine), 9ha of old vines transformed into modern rows with various width, approximately 2ha of olive growth and the remainder are fruit trees, vegetables and bush. Although Etna has a tradition in high density plantation of vines, we search to reduce monoculture and have interplanted various local fruit varieties and keep bees to regain a complex ecosystem. The new vineyards are planted without grafts, using a selection of our original, ungrafted vines. The training system used is the alberello. Buckwheat is used for rebalancing soils low on organic material without recourse to industrial compost, especially important when preparing land for a new vineyard plantation. We avoid soil-tilling as much as possible, although this depends on the vintage and the quantity of water over the winter (recovering of the vines after the production cycle). Our goal is to avoid all treatments whatsoever in the vineyard, orchard and surroundings, in which we succeeded even in difficult vintages such as 2004 and 2005. Unfortunately there will always be the vintages where treatments with copper sulphate and sulphur are necessary to avoid vines from dying like 2013 and 2015.
Our products are the result of this philosophy and our hands and team. Wines and olive oils which reflect ultimate territorial identity and mineral depth carry the name Magma® and MunJebel®. These are single contrada (cru) and vintage wines and olive oils from various superb terroirs between 600-1.000 metres altitude. Magma® Rosso is our “Grand Vin”, produced from only Nerello Mascalese grapes in contrada Barbabecchi. Magma® Olio di Oliva is pressed from perfectly ripe San Benedetto olives from contrada Borriglione.