2016 Contadino! Hooray! This is from Frank Cornelissen up on top of mount Etna in Sicily. Frank is an amazing guy who I met many years ago in a little BYOB German restaurant. He was totally exhausted and very calmly told me all about how Etna is one of the greatest wine terroirs on earth and he will make wine that tastes like liquid volcanic rock and he will do it with no additives or chemical manipulation of the wine. Then a couple winters later I flew to Sicily and ran across the east side of the Island, ran over Mount Etna, and stayed with him for a weekend. It was amazing. Etna is an amazing place that can grow just about anything depending on where you are on the mountain. It's like some kind of magical garden of Eden except it's a volcano that might erupt and wipe everything out at any moment. So here's what I think if the 2016 Contadino
Aroma: There's a lot of fruit; a lot of ripe cherry and dark raspberry in the aroma. It's a little jammy, a little spicy wild aromatic herb, and a little smoky. But that smoky character isn't tar and it isn't tobacco. the smoke aroma is more like blackened charred wood or hard wood charcoal-not really the smell of those charcoal briquettes. The 16 Contadino smells ripe and tropical and somehow sort of like a seared piece of beef. But maybe that's because I eat so much beef. If I adjust my perspective and think of other cuisines the Contadino also has a recognizable soy sort of an aroma to it. Just like Mount Etna it's powerful, lovely and giving, and brooding all at once.
Taste: It's lovely and juicy, juicy in a very drinkable way. There's cooked cherries and cranberries. That taste of char and smoke is here on the palate as well as in the aroma. It's rich, but not heavy and the tannins aren't aggressive, in fact the tannins aren't a super big part of the wine. The 16 Contadino is more driven by it's fruit, the volcanic minerality, and acidity. There're tannins of course but they kind of take a back seat. Cherries and cranberries slow roasted over a wood fire is what I keep coming back to.
I really enjoy this vintage. It has more power than the 2015 and more precision and vivacity than the 2014. I liked 2014 a lot but it was a heavier higher alcohol wine and it tasted like it. It's really cool to see that Frank is still evolving and that the wines are clear expressions of the climate and place that vary year to year.
The Contadino will be some where around $30 retail. I don't know yet who's picking it up so if you want some go to your favorite wine shop and special order it now.