It's time to tell you about Coturri Wines. I visited Tony Coturri at his winery in Glen Ellen, Sonoma yesterday with Jen Lee. This was a highly anticipated visit for me. Tony is well-known for always being a natural grower in California, since the 60's, he's also considered a pioneer of natural wine in California. He's been farming organically and making wine naturally since the 60's.
We know we have arrived at Cotturi because we confirmed the address not because of the big signs directing us to the entrance. It is a long trek to the farm and if you don't know where you're going you won't get there. And, when you do you might think there's been a flood. Boxes, barrels, carboys, growlers, buckets are strewn about as if someone was in a rush to get it out of the cellar. There is a folding table in the middle of it all and a few bottles waiting to be tasted.
Tony begins, as you can imagine, without much thought to the order of things, but it doesn't seem to matter. The order and the natural chaos of the world is all in the bottle. Each varietal; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and his hallmark, Zinfandel's dance and sing telling you a story of the time they were born and what's happened since. Before we leave I ask if there is a wine I should not leave without? Tony disappears into the cellar and returns with a bottle and smile, a Petite Sirah which he proclaims should not be ignored. And, it won't be.
It's a pleasure to drink Tony's wines. They are alive. They are spirited. They can be bombs of berry and soil. They can be adventures. But they are not unstable or unbalanced. And that goes for the man too. He is easy to talk to and very intuitive. He is sensitive and warm. He is, as his wines are ... sometimes rough around the edges but giving and fully present.
It's this poetry in a bottle that sends me back on the road again and again recapturing the delight I find in celebrating with others this tremendous life. It is also this poetry that underscores love and heartache. Jen mentioned to me a touching anecdote on our way to Coturri that her two favorite topics in life are wine and love. They are not mutually exclusive, especially here.
Tony unearthed some rare 1990 Pinot Noir from Sonoma Valley. Jen and I tried it and both were blown away. I am sipping some now. It's inspiring. It makes me feel as if I am truly enjoying the moment. The taste of earth is what jumps from the bottle when you pull the cork -- and then as it opens over time (and I suspect it will continue to open to tell more tales overnight) -- brighter fruit begins to surface and the two linger in a type of harmony.
What a wonderful discovery.