Susucaru wine. What is it, and how did it become so popular?

Susucaru wine – never heard of it? Join the rest of us. At least until recently this obscure wine from Sicily’s Mount Etna wasn’t on anybody’s radar. Until a rapper came along and gave it his highest proclamation.

Action Bronson is a New York chef-turned-rapper who’s also the star of a new show on Viceland called “F*ck That’s Delicious”.

“I am a wine tsunami. I am a natural disaster when it comes to natural wine.”

susucaruu
Frank is a fierce proponent of “profound territorial wines”.

Unlike other rappers who raise glasses of Dom Perignon or Cristal, Bronson is a true renaissance man who shows a strong preference for natural wines. In most of his episodes he can be seen at some point waxing poetic about food and life with a glass of wine in hand.

The episode in question features Bronson and his friend Meyhem Lauren dining at 10 William Street, a hip Italian restaurant in Sydney’s Paddington. Bronson orders a bottle of Susucaru, and says: “You saw my face when they brought the Sususcaru out. I was like a little f*(kin’ kid, like my mom just bought the NBA Jam Tournament Edition. I been waiting for this Susucaru all my life. I love this one.”

“I been waiting for this Susucaru all my life. I love this one.” 

I saw the episode where Bronson delighted in drinking this wine, but didn’t think much of it until seeing a recent post on Wine Searcher which reported how this previously unknown wine shot to the top 20 of its most searched for list, jumping ahead of popular names like Cos d’Estournel and Penfolds Grange.

fourhorsemenbottle-of-susucaru
Photo credit: Vice

So what’s the deal with this wine? Well, it’s made by Belgian Frank Cornelissen, a sort of anomoly in the winemaking world. He’s a fierce supporter of natural wines, and even considers biodynamics as an interventionist practice. Thus he farms his 64 hillside acres in a totally minimalist way. He lets the vines carry on as they wish, growing them in a Gobelet or bush-vine system that’s similar to the Graupert that our friends at Meinklang make.

“Our farming philosophy is based on our acceptance of the fact that man will never be able to understand nature’s full complexity and interactions. We therefore choose to concentrate on observing and learning the movements of Mother Earth in her various energetic and cosmic passages and prefer to follow her indications as to what to do, instead of deciding and imposing ourselves.”

The same minimalist approach follows through in his winemaking. Susucaru is made from a range of native Sicilian grape varieties including Nerello Mascalese, Malvasia and Inzolia. With no added sulphites or yeasts, the wine is definitely geeky stuff, and probably closest to a pale Jura red if you’re looking for a comparison.

The name Susucaru comes from a Sicilian expression meaning “they stole it” which is what Frank’s crew shouted when they realized most of the grapes from their first vintage had vanished. The wine is unfiltered, and contains only natural preservatives such as polyphenols from skin contact and a touch of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fermentation. Some have described his wines as a “bit too much” and “unapolagetically funky”. Still, that didn’t stop Wine Enthusiast from awarding a strong 89 point score for his 2013 Susucaru.

Good luck finding any Susucaru at your local wine shop though. Since Action shared his love for it, the few stores carrying it sold out. In 2015 Frank didn’t make any Susucaru at all, opting instead to use the grapes in his “Contadino” blend of mostly Nerello Mascalese (85%), Nerello Capuccio, Allicante Boushet, Minella nera, Uva Francesa and Minella bianco. Seems like we must wait until this year’s vintage is released to have a chance.

For more information on Frank, his wines, and his philosophy, visit his website: http://www.frankcornelissen.it/eng_production.htm

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Mike Meisner

Mike Meisner

Mike is the resident content creator for the Last Bottle blog. When he's not spilling wine on his keyboard he can be found wandering the aisles in the warehouse with a Coravin in hand, whispering to bottles "This will only hurt for a second".
Mike Meisner

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