As the legend goes...Frank was a high-end wine dealer in Belgium, one of the top flight importers of marquee Burgundy and Barolo producers and emphatically moved by great wines of the world. In the late 1990s his gaze wandered to the northern slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, and by 2001 he had embarked on his new life as a vigneron.
Early releases were rugged, expressive, agricultural, and, therefore, a neat reflection of the place where they were born and raised. Having visited Frank on several occasions throughout the years, and even trying the legendary 2001 wine, what's most remarkable is the shift in culture that has occurred in recent years. Frank's early wines were full of charisma, wild-edged, at times challenging, always interesting. They were born from a place of smoke and fire, Eden-like gardens, alpine herbs and truly-organic farming, and came away in bottle as an expressive reflection of all this.
However, in recent years, there's been a shift to meticulousness. Even more detail in viticulture as the collection of vineyards grows and more attention to the nuances of organic farming. In the cellar, an incredible shift from the early years of laissez-faire approach to winery practice – a visit now comes with the kind of reverence for cleanliness and lack of clutter you would find in prized Japanese aesthetic. Winery hygiene and care is paramount alongside the incredible quality of fruit. The wines have grown increasingly precise, energetic, tightly-wound, shaped by tannin, glorious in mouth-drenching acidity and a sense of pitch-perfect ripeness of fruit – a cavalcade of 'mineral and earth character' alongside the suggestions of those wonderful, fragrant alpine herbs.
These wines are outdoing themselves. An elevation of their already lofty reputation and now striding confidently into the fine wine paradigm – rare, delicious, brilliant jewels.
Susucaru is released in this collection of wines as a Rosso (red) wine (with the usual Rosato/rosé due later in the year) – Susucaru Rosso continues its run as a prized cult wine, celebrated globally. It is again an elegant and structured release with spice, juiciness and very high drinkability. It's thirst-quenching and full of vitality. This of course is the cuvee that many clamour for, but the wines produced under the Munjebel and Magma bottlings are the most profound.
The Munjubel wines are shaped from the much-celebrated local variety of nerello mascalese. The wines are often wild, unfettered, elemental wines of mineral-earthiness, and offer rose hip tea scents matched to briar and dark berries, with strong wet rock notes in the mix. Expect the palate to show fine and incredibly firm tannins, a trademark of the variety nerello. From this release they are again epic, epic wines, all defined by vineyard detail and the varying villages of those northern slopes of Mount Etna – nuance and personality is writ large in these wines. There you have it.