Natural winemaking in Sonoma County pretty much starts and ends with Coturri. In a region full of squeaky clean, commercially styled wines, Tony Coturri’s laissez-faire approach in the winery comes as a breath of fresh air. I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Tony recently, where we discussed his approach, heritage Sonoma wine styles and much else besides. His way with Zinfandel is especially successful, I think. He allows the wine to ferment wild and, often, this results in an amount of residual sugar once fermentation is complete. He feels this is the manner in which Zinfandel was once made in the region and, despite it being noticeably sweet on the mid-palate, considers it a good food wine.
I tend to agree and, in this, his Zinfandels remind me of Australian Shiraz VP, which I’ve always thought is a great wine with savoury food (and not just chocolate). Like a good Shiraz VP, this is extremely aromatic. The nose is rich, spiced and fruitcake-like, screaming of Zinfandel all the way. Its complexity is heady, with interesting biscuity notes and some greenness too, which is typical of this unevenly ripening variety. This isn’t a fresh fruit style. Rather, its aromas remind me of Old World styles that involve extended barrel maturation, in that their focus is on flavours that show some development.
The palate is a striking mixture of off-dry fruit and biscuity flavours, its line seeming sweet before finishing clean and dry. Structure is beautifully balanced, especially acid, while tannins are dusty and firm enough to prevent the wine’s flavours from cloying. It has power and richness and, like a German Riesling, seems to magically balance its residual sweetness with just the right amount of structure.
A strikingly unusual wine style, this is quite delicious and calls out for a big hunk of hard cheese and sourdough bread.
Price: $NA (not yet released)