Indisputably Natural in San Diego: Cornelissen, Dettori, López de Heredia

N.B.: Jaynes Gastropub does allow corkage, for a reasonable fee, for wines not offered on their wine list.

Chrissa, her husband Dan, Rikkers, and I opened a memorable flight of indisputably Natural wines last night at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego. I write “indisputably Natural” with a capital N because any mention of Natural wine these days seems to spark the ire of some of the more cranky among us here in the enoblogsphere. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the community of wine bloggers who have laid claim to this precious and widely coveted epithet would agree that the three wines in question fulfill the criteria prescribed by even the most rigorous enforcers of Natural wine doctrine and dogma.

Perhaps nowhere has more been written about the wines of Frank Cornelissen than at Saignee and, ubi major minor cessat, I will defer to Cory’s excellent blog for a treatment of Cornelissen and the cult that has taken shape around him.

The wines, raised on the slopes of Mt. Etna, are not easy to come by in this country and I was thrilled to finally get my hands on some. Together, we tasted the 2007 Munjebel Bianco (native yeast, skin contact, no SO2, no filtration). Munjebel is dialectal toponym for Mt. Etna, btw (akin the Sicilian Muncibeddu or the Italian Mongibello, meaning monte bello or beautiful mountain).

The synthetic cork bulged out slightly from the lip of the bottle’s neck and the shoulder was very high. I believe this was due to a second fermentation in the bottle and the wine had a slight spritz to it.

I don’t have time today to go into the epistemological implications of this wine, which I find fascinating (the wine and the implications). But I can report that I thoroughly enjoyed it (bright acidity, bright citrus fruit, balanced alcohol). I believe the wine has not yet stabilized (it had rested for about a week in my wine locker in San Diego before we opened it last night). I’m looking forward to opening the other bottles in my allocation: this wine is alive, IT’S ALIVE, as Dr. Frankenstein might say.

The 2006 Bianco by Dettori? This was simply one of the best wines I’ve ever had in my life. Not a great vintage for Dettori but sure to be a 20+ in its cellar life. Tannic and rich, bright bright acidity and a crunchy mouthfeel. It took some time for this wine to open up but it was purely sublime.

We also ordered the 1998 López de Heridia Tondonia Rosado from Jayne’s list. The oxidative wine was a perfect closer after the thought-provoking, intense whites (orange wines, really), and was a fantastic pairing for my schnitzel and spaetzle (recommended by Jayne). Anyone who visits Do Bianchi regularly knows just how much Tracie P and I love LdH — anytime, anywhere.

After dinner we went to a new club on El Cajon Blvd. to see Jon’s band the Fairmounts play their blend of 60s soul.

That’s A.J. Croce (yes, Jim Croce’s son!) on keyboards… how cool is that? They completely rocked the house…

Wrapping up this quick San Diego trip (to ship and deliver wine for my wine club, I just had to share this photo of my awesome nephews Abner and Oscar (brother Micah and sister-in-law Marguerite’s children).

Abner is holding a photo of his great-great-grandparents, mama Judy’s grandparents. It’s so remarkable to think about how far we’ve come from Russia, Poland, and Austria. And how radically the world has changed since then.

Would they have ever imagined that their progeny would be drinking unyeasted wines from the slopes of Mt. Etna on the far-flung shores of California?

4 thoughts on “Indisputably Natural in San Diego: Cornelissen, Dettori, López de Heredia

  1. well i am ready to be astounded.

    cute pic of the boys too! and i am SO jealous that you got to have the schniz and spaez. (is that another annoying abbreviation? ;)

    how ’bout some LdH and Fonda San Miguel tonight…?

  2. Cornelissen….mmmmm…

    When the Brazil soccer team won the world cup of 1958 it had 2 stars…the older more established Garrincha and the newcomer Pele. Both are among the greatest players ever to kick a ball. If I had the ridiculous choice of seeing only one of the play it would be Garrincha , a “players player” …but that’s a personal choice.

    For me the situation is similar in the Etna DOC.
    I haven’t tasted Cornelissen’s MAGMA but the rest of the line-up is wonderful . I “get it” and like to drink them.
    HOWEVER , there’s also Salvo Foti.
    If I had the choice between drinking Cornelissen’s Contadino 7 , Vini Biondi’s Outis Nessuno (Foti is the enologo ) or I Vigneri’s (also Foti)base level bottling , I’d go for one of the Foti wines. (they’re all around the same price)
    At the next level my choice would be similar…I’d go for either I Vigneri’s Vinupetra of Vini Bondi’s single vineyard bottling (name escapes me) over the Munjebel.
    Not that I’m going to say no to the Munjebel…I like it very much but I feel the Cornelissen wines are a sort of ….the new natural flashy. They’re showing me their stuff …with the Foti wines they’re somehow more profound , understated ,a mystery unraveling. I feel like an observer as I drink them. My senses are aroused rather than assaulted. But again I do like a good assault.

    And then there was Tenuta Terre Nera.

    PS. Keep the great posts coming…I’m particularly fond of the Vin Santo postings and have spend much time over the past 10 years sampling the stuff….I wonder if its even possible to produce great VS in commercial sized quantities…the best stuff I’ve tasted has been personally made for personal consumption. There’s a commercial possibility in marketing farmer vin santo from Tuscany and the Veneto in extremely small quantities …a la LA BOTA from Southern Spain.
    John Lowe

  3. There’s something about the wines from this areas. we need to go there and investigate. Just had the Etna Rosso and N’Anticchia from Paolo Caciorgna. Beautiful stuff. Like at is much as my latest love, Lambrusco, but for different reasons.

    thanks, Jar!

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