Thursday, March 29, 2012

Copain: Visiting a California Wine Favorite

I've been a fan of Copain wines for a long time. Most of my experience has been with their single-vineyard syrahs  from older vintages between 2003 and 2007. On a recent trip to Sonoma, California, I visited the Copain winery for the first time and got to try some of their new releases. I'm happy to report that they're as good if not better than the older wines I've had. Copain carefully crafts its wines from fruit grown in distinct vineyards all over California. All but one of the wines I tasted come from Mendocino County, a huge, rustic region north of Sonoma. Mendocino's Anderson Valley has long been one of my favorite growing regions in California, and the three Anderson Valley wines tasted here demonstrate why.

The Copain Winery in Sonoma offers a range of distinct
pinot noirs and syrahs, not to mention great views.
Copain's wines have a lively, fresh style, while displaying focused fruit flavors and notes of mineral and earth. Not your average California fruit juice. The staff at the winery was really helpful, informative and down-to-earth, giving out generous pours. It was a sunny day in Sonoma and the experience couldn't have been better. I tasted the wines with my girlfriend, my brother and his wife, and everyone really enjoyed this style of wine and the visit in general. This place is high on my list of top spots for Sonoma wine tourists.

This chardonnay sees no new oak, and it undergoes limited maloactic fermentation, making for a fresh but fruit-forward chardonnay with a unique character. Aromas of fresh pineapple, pear and a distinct mineral aroma. The palate is creamy to start, then the acid kicks in. What a lovely white peach flavor, backed up with a dose of lemon and minerals. Long finish with lingering acid. Copain does a great job with reds, so I was thrilled to try this. It didn't disappoint. I look forward to some more Copain chardonnays in the future. (90 pts.)

Wow, what a beautiful pinot noir. Gorgeous strawberry color in the glass. The nose is soft and seductive, showing cherry, cranberry and a hint of pepper. Fresh and medium-bodied on the palate with medium acid. The flavors cascade over the palate like liquid silk. I love the cranberry, licorice and underbrush flavors. Fine-grained tannins with a sexy finish, showing just a kiss of toast. This pinot has a lot of complexity that will surely evolve for at least a few years. I brought some home, so I'm looking forward to revisiting a bottle in a year or two. (92 pts.)

This wine is so seductive, it's hard not to gush over. Bright, pure black cherry color in the glass. The nose is a medley of flowers, rose hips, roasted plums and just a hint of meat. The palate shows a firm structure, more so than the 2009 Les Voisons pinot noir. It's definitely got some grip to it. Flavors of black cherry, smoke and a bit of coffee. Acid keeps it balanced, but it's clear that this wine needs some time in the bottle or at least in the decanter to show its true stuff. Caramel on the finish. Pure and lovely, and it will only get better with a few years. I don't need a reminder why I love Anderson Valley pinot, but I got one anyway. (93 pts.)

2009 Copain Syrah Les Voisins - Yorkville Highlands
Gorgeous dark purple in the glass. Dark and rich aromas of plums, cocoa powder and a bit of crushed rock. The palate shows restraint, with plush tannins and flavors of black cherry, currant and just a hint of vanilla and white pepper. The best way to describe this wine is purity. Creamy finish with a hint of subtle oak. I'd love to revisit this in three or five years. (91 pts.)

2007 Copain Syrah Thompson Vineyard - Santa Barbara County
This syrah is sourced from much further south in Santa Barbara. I liked this syrah, but it seemed a bit too big for its britches. Dark purple in the glass. Aromas of boysenberry, blueberry and creamy milk chocolate. The palate is plummy and dark as hell, with brooding blue fruit and dense tannins. It's delicious, but this reminds me why my palate has shifted to North Coast syrah over the past few years. That said, if you're a fan of brawny, fruity syrah, this won't let you down. (89 pts.)

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