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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

A “Crazy” Red from Sicily

Frank Cornelissen Munjebel 5 Rosso

Thomas Matthews
Posted: April 19, 2010

Ever since I read Matt Kramer’s essay on Frank Cornelissen (in his Drinking Out Loud column on WineSpectator.com), I’ve wanted to try one of his wines. But they aren’t easy to find.

Cornelissen, who makes wine from vineyards on Mt. Etna in Sicily, is a member of what Matt calls the “Crazy Club,” winemakers who are “pushing the boundaries of conventional winegrowing way beyond what’s considered normal.” Not always my cup of tea, but then, I’m curious about every corner of the wine world.

Recently, I found Cornelissen’s Munjebel 5 Rosso on the wine list for $130 at Convivio in Manhattan’s Tudor City and convinced my dining companions to splurge. The sommelier, Levi Dalton, was enthusiastic, but also a bit wary. “I’ll serve it cool,” he said. “It will throw some sediment, but I wouldn’t advise decanting. It’s inconsistent and unstable. In 20 minutes, it may be gone.”

The wine is a red made from Nerello Mascalese, one-third from the 2007 vintage and two-thirds from 2008 (according to Matt). It was a light, rusty red in color and a bit hazy; indeed, sediment floated even in the early pours. It offered expressive aromas and flavors of tart cherry and bitter herbs in a light, silky texture, with tart acidity and light, firm tannins. It was distinctive, though not mind-bogglingly unusual, reminding me of Ploussard in Arbois, or even Dolcetto from Piedmont. It had a stony purity, and held up nicely as we drank it with salumi and olives. I rated it 86 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated red wines from Sicily.

Hoyt Hill Jr
Nashville, TN —  April 20, 2010 2:51pm ET
Why would the sommelier have a wine on the list that he is unenthusiastic about? And how did you feel about paying $150 for an 86 point quality wine?
Come see us in Nashville again some time!

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