Community Tasting Notes (9) Median Score: 92 points

  • Discovered in the cellar of a client: a MunJebel Bianco No.3 2006!
    MASSIVELY sedimented. Needs settling as per all sedimented wines, regardless of their colour. (People who say it is cloudy do not yet understand how to handle sedimented wine.) Settled and gently decanted, the wine is brilliant amber with red-hints.
    On the nose, evidently from the era of 'Frank's Wild Years', those early vintages with more than a spot more volatility than desired. And yet. The wine has calmed down in bottle, is now still and precise, intense, more red than white due to the maceration, and a brilliant last bottle by the fire after supper. Long, stony, dry, tannic, with far more positives than negatives. The flavours all dried stone fruits, ground pumice stone.
    Hailing from the end of the early era, pre-Frank's era of fine-tuning, the wine at once explains why the fine-tuning was necessary, whilst also demonstrating the power, quality, complexity, length that Cornelissen's early adopters always knew was there. I would rather have Frank's 2012 or 13 in the cellar - or a post-1998 Gravner, a Vodopevic or Le Coste Bianco del Paino - and anyone who owns this still should drink it up. But for a 'naively' produced unsulphited orange wine to show this well at 8 years old is a great testimony to Frank's belief that it was possible. It also held up for several days.

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  • Awful. Just awful. Acrid, cloudy. Why did I even dare to put a taste in my mouth?

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  • Cloudy deep yellow apricot colour - something from Sicilian pottery. Nice nose of yeast, cider, apricot. Firm weight. Not so long finish of bitter honey. Hints of a lively acidity from its youth. Above all very interesting and unique. This rates a conversation.

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  • Orange Sunshine (skin-fermented white wines) (La Ciccia, San Francisco): Very cloudy. Intense Gueze / Kombucha / cider vinegar character, but also some red wine personality. But just so very severe; even in an orange wine lineup this is furthest to left field. Can't imagine drinking this in a normal wine context, but I could see enjoying it in a similar vein to Isastegi Cidre: slightly chilled, on a hot summer evening. (tasted blind)

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  • Unpleasant the day opened. But 5 days later it was very interesting and fun to drink.

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  • By Richard Jennings
    7/30/2009, (See more on 82 points

    (NV Frank Cornelissen MunJebel Bianco 3) Slightly cloudy light medium orange color with clear meniscus; VA, smoky, sour, kumquat nose; very acidic, tart kumquat palate with a bitter note and hint of artichoke; medium finish (Blend of Carricante, Grecanico Dorato, Coda di Volpe; vinified like a red wine, with long skin-contact; Jack, who's had this a number of times, says it improves with several days of being opened)


  • By Jon Rimmerman
    1/18/2008, (See more on Garagiste...)

    (Cornelissen MUNJEBEL 3 white) Volcano

    Dear Friends,

    If you think you’ve tasted natural wine before, you may want to re-think that notion. There have been many moments in my career when I just need to stop and smell the roses due to the profound impact a certain individual or wine has had on me, but in this case, the scent of burning magma is more appropriate.

    This offer introduces one of the more important wine personalities and figures in the world of wine - a man bent on changing what the world’s perception is of vinous composition. He isn’t in France, he isn’t in the US and he’s not really on mainland Europe - he lives on a volcano, waiting for the end of the world but hoping to change it before he departs.

    Frank Cornelissen is to wine what Christopher Columbus was to the US - an explorer on the verge of altering the Earth’s known wine landscape forever. In today’s world, where anyone with a hacker’s spirit and above average intelligence can sit at a computer terminal and take over a small country or two (think the next major war will be fought with weapons? I don’t think so), this man is out in the land doing it the old fashioned way - without electricity, without the influence of bloggers and the media. His only influence is the terrifying specter that is billowing the promise of smoke and ash his way every minute of every day - Mount Etna and it’s eventual eruption, which could end his life and the life of his winery. Think you have problems? It’s all in perspective.

    His vineyards are made of solid lava and the wines reflect this complete lack of soil. If you’ve never tasted lava, you will when you drink the wines. I’ve outlined the individual tonics below but there is really nothing that can prepare you for this set of experiences all raised in ancient amphorae (clay) with no wood, tanks or modern techniques of any kind and no sulphites or sulpher added. You have to throw out your preconception of what wine is when you taste these - they have the comforting appearance of a foggy day in London with the murk and damp pavement all around you. If you are looking for clarity, you will find it here but not in the cloudy appearance of the wines.

    Each wine comes with a WARNING label that reads as follows: “Attention: This wine has not been modified, neither chemically nor mechanically and does not contain any added Sulpher, preservatives or stabilizers. There will be a natural deposit as our wines are not filtered nor fined. It is important to store the bottles below 16 Celsius. It is not advised to decant before serving”.

    Please keep in mind that all of these spontaneously referment in the bottle, which is considered by Cornelissen to be a very good thing. To him, a wine that does not undergo substantial change and refermentation in the bottle is dead and was “killed” by the winemaker (so, 99.9% of the world’s wines are, in his mind, dead - yes, that 2005 Latour would be considered dead). Controversial, yes, but he has a point. From experience, the frizzante element (upon opening) passes with approximately 30-60 minutes of air and the real fireworks begin after that.

    Are the artistic works of Frank Cornelissen some of the only real wines being produced in the world - leaving everything else at any price-point on a dead tire heap waiting for another landfill? The only way to decide is to wander into the jaws of curiosity without preconception and to just taste.

    For more information, see:

    2006 Cornelissen “Contadino” 4 (Monte Etna)
    (this has nothing to do with Contadino Pinot Grigio - that is a Venetian winery. This is not the generic Contadino from Cornelissen it is the Contadino 4 which is a higher designation)

    As an introduction to a new world order of wine, this will open the most close of eyes. From 80% Nerello Mascalese and the remainder Nerello Cappuccio and other varietals, this red/pink wine is indeed a dry, still red wine. This is Cornelissen’s house wine and it is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted - orange peel, tangerine, cinnamon, mace, gravel, ground sage and crushed sea salt coat the bottom of the bottle and sides of the glass (literally, there is half an inch of sediment already and it is “prohibited” from being decanted away by the winemaker - he wants it to be part of the wine when poured not left in the bottle). This wine is meant to be chewy, sinuous and so perplexing to the university trained winemaker that it is not only revolutionary but it begs the question, is this actually what real wine is all about - nothing added and nothing taken away (and I mean nothing)? What you are left with is a concoction that looks like a home-brew of sorts, cloudy and oh so intriguing - like a tonic of the Middle Ages and what wine would have been like before technology and a public that demanded sterility and delicious wine. This is not about enjoyment, it’s about the struggles of life and the life-long passion of an inventor and revolutionary figure but it becomes so very enjoyable as it opens with air. This is as is uncompromising as it gets - Che Guevara meets Thomas Edison? 25 cases for the entire US.

    2006 Cornelissen “Munjabel” 3 (bianco)
    From 50% Grecanico Dorato and the remainder Coda di Volpe, Carricante and other varietals, this is part of his utterly captivating and controversial Magma bianco and there is something to the notion that until you taste this, you’ve never really tasted white wine. The full-on Magma white is still fermenting (after 6 years) and this is a clay pot or two of its make-up. When I describe this wine as golden in hue, I mean like melting a block of Fort Knox gold into a bowl and holding it up in the sunlight. It has the texture of molten lava, slow moving and sure of its destination no matter what it melts on the way. The flavors in this wine are somewhat indescribable and range from oxidative, refermented melon skins to ‘89 Roumier Batard Montrachet. This “wine” is very difficult to drink, but from a medicinal point of view it is very important to experience. One of a kind. Beyond EXTREMELY LIMITED - 8 cases for the entire US

    2005 Cornelissen “Munjabel” 3 (Rosso del Monjibello)
    This may appear costly but his very top wine is now much moe expensive (the aptly named Magma) and the difference in quality is not that extreme (so I chose this instead). Like the above white, this nearly 100% Nerello Mascalese red is beyond the realm of this world (from a wine perspective) and while very tough to analyze or even to appreciate, it is so unusual that visions of rose water being poured into a confectioners Cuisinart with little pebbles left on top like sprinkles on a chocolate sundae are the order of the day. I’m not sure I would call this half muck, half liquid actual wine as we perceive it but it is a new experience and one that can take a certain tasters breath away. When given the requisite amount of air (at least two hours) the most fascinating citrus, spice and Quinterelli-like elements emerge all layered upon lava-rich layer (similar to the Contadino but far more intense). This wine rests on a platform above the rest of Italy and Europe scanning the horizon for the end of the world but hoping the world is indeed round, only to come back to itself with all the treasure left behind by would-be prospectors that never found the pot of god at the end of the rainbow. A crazy, if not singular expression of the earth’s core, man, beast, wind, sun and moon. Beyond EXTREMELY LIMITED - five cases for the entire US.

    Thank you,

    Jon Rimmerman
    Seattle, WA


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