TN: 2017 Frank Cornelissen - "Susucaru" Rosso (Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC)

2017 Frank Cornelissen Susucaru Rosso - Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC (10/11/2019)
Well, can’t say I’m too excited about my remaining two bottles. We have a plethora of things going on here — Thanks, natural wine!! — A light splash of brett on the Nose and the palate, some V/A, as well. There are some pleasant red-fruited and earthy aspects to the aromatics, but one must kind of bob and weave through and around the flaws to get there. Color is not very concentrated. Incredibly raspy/green tannins on the palate make this fairly difficult to drink. I did sample this over the course of a few days, and the air did benefit it some, but I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this wine. Given this producer’s manner of producing wines, I have every reason to believe this bottle was representative of this wine. NR (flawed)

I opened a 2016 Munjebel VA this past weekend and had a similar experience. A friend said it tasted like wet socks.

Different strokes Brian. I happen to really like the Susucaru and former Contadino bottlings (apparently a new Susucaru bottling has replaced the Contadino). Both wines are/were yearly purchases for me. Yes, Cornelissen is a natural wine poster child, but I don’t think it’s fare to blame natural wine due to two flaws, brett & VA, that occur in far too many wines outside of the natural wine world. And for what it’s worth, I do not recall encountering brett in either bottlings, VA yes, but it tends blow off and I’m much more tolerant of VA (sensitivity issue). I can warn, that due to low S02 (5-30 mg/l), these wines require careful handling once they leave the winery. I will only purchase from trusted sources. That’s not to say your bottle wasn’t treated well along it’s journey. I’ve also had mixed results with his higher end wines and won’t spend the $ on those. Sorry your bottle didn’t show as well.

Cornelissen wines are like the little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead.

When they are good, they are very, very good, but when they are bad they are horrid.

yeah, i hear ya’. These bottles were ordered from Envoyer more than a year ago: they weren’t delivered until a couple weeks ago. The original offer, and hence my order, was for three bottles of Contadino. I then found out, somehow, that this Susucaru bottling has replaced the Contadino bottling, as you noted. I have thoroughly enjoyed that bottling in the past, but not so much this bottle, and that’s why I indicted “natural wine” — because I’ve had far better bottles in the past — FWIW, the times I’ve had Contadino in the past I was in Europe, so those bottles, presumably, were not subjected to as harsh conditions as these bottles — but that’s all quite presumptive, and potentially not true. I’ve a bottle or two of the Munjebel on order from Envoyer, as well, so hopefully those show well.

luckily, I have had really good luck with this wine so far. it has just been awesome every time I’ve opened it. no signs of funk or flaw anywhere to be seen.

the rose, on the other hand…

but I would suggest not writing off the other two. when Cornelisson’s wines are on, to me, they are SO good.

i believe with this current release of wines he actually started adding sulphur and also did some filtering. i have never encountered brett in his wines but some volatility definitely seems to be the norm, but less so now than in the past.

Yes, his philosophy has totally changed. He is now the poster boy for clean wines. Hard to believe but true.


This would be a positive development.

Yes and no, less volatile and cleaner is good. Devoid of all funk could make it rather boring. Just a thought.


i have not tasted any of the current reds as i was turned off by the 15% abv but i found the 18 rose to be far too sterile, bordering on generic compared to the 17.

That is indeed interesting. Any idea why?

Hi Gregg, My son visited with Frank this past July for several hours discussing and sampling wines. The summary of the day was a direct quote from Frank “For 15 years my wines were the reflection of the Dogma of Frank Cornelissen, from now on I want them to be a reflection of Etna”

Quite a statement and pretty much sums up the change. There are also actual changes to the winemaking process, small adds of sulfur etc etc


Hi Tom - Thanks for that. What an unusual 180 degree turn! Per his website, he appears to still farm organically with prudent uses of copper sulphate and sulphur in the vineyard. Not sure how I feel about his change. I guess time & tasting will tell.

Gregg, agree its pretty crazy how his philosophy has changed. Here is some more info about Cornelissen and his wines that Thomas (my son) spoke about during The Idlewild Sunday School in September 2018. The two wines listed were what we tasted from him. I am told he is quite the personality in person. Hopefully you can read from the photo as I am a horribly slow typing :slight_smile:

Never had any luck with them. But that was before sulfuring.

I don’t know if it’s really a 180. He’s got his benchmarks. Now he’s dialing back, expunging the dogma, in order to try to achieve those highs with more stable wines. He’s building on what he’s learned. And yes, we’ll see if he pulls it off.

Haven’t posted here is years but figure I’d stop playing the telephone game with my pop and relay some info from my visit with Cornelissen in July.

First off, over the past 10 years my tastes have wandered off into some pretty esoteric wines. I’ve been a huge champion of some pretty funky and natty (for lack of a better term) for years, but also appreciate the classics from time to time. Frank’s wines have long been a favorite of mine, but coming from a wine production background, I’m fully aware that occasionally I would kiss a couple of frogs in between princes so to speak with Frank’s wines. Sometimes, the VA was over the edge. However, over the past few vintages starting with the 2015’s, I’ve noticed that the Cornelisen wines started to pick up some layers of refinement. The 2016 contradas were serious wines, and refined AF. When I met with Frank and Giacomo this summer the story that they told was important for me to hear.

If you notice, that past few vintages of Cornelissen wines were not labeled as DOC. This is because they were rejected for being abnormal. Frank is very introspective and understands that he plays an important role in the advancement of Etna DOC. After the encouragement of Salvo Foti (the soul of natural winemaking on Etna) Frank realized that he can do more for Etna and the struggling growers and producers if his wines were DOC. He understands that he is the lightening rod for controversy (good and bad), and it’s all about the betterment of Etna DOC for him.

Don’t be led think that these are super clean, sterile wines. They’re not. They still ride that wild edge and are feral and funky… they just see a few parts of SO2 before bottling if they need it.

Thomas, thanks for posting. I guess I feel more confident now knowing Frank is dedicated to less dramatic changes than I previously suspected. It was in fact a Contadino in 2010?? that got me intrigued in Etna. I was already enjoying Sicilian wines (Bonavita, Cos, Occhipinti, …) but Etna is a different animal. I have some Susucaru Rosso on pre-arrival.