January 24, 2007

2005 Copain Wines "L'hiver" Syrah, Mendocino County, California

We had very high expectations for this wine. It has received great ratings and there was a lot of enthusiasm for it at my local wine shop. When people are enthusiastic about a wine that is enough to get me to try it, but this one is also from an incredibly well respected winemaker, Wells Guthrie, who pursued his passion for wine all the way to Chapoutier in the Northern Rhone from San Francisco. There, he focused on learning the intricacies of the Rhone varietals and worked the winery and the vineyards at Chapoutier. He also began investigating biodynamics, something being talked about more and more amongst grape growers and winemakers.

Wells moved back to California and did a stint with Helen Turley of Turley Wines, whom I have a lot of respect for and whose wines have blown my mine. He departed Turley and started his own winery. He is dedicated to organic farming and seeks out partnerships with grape growers who share this dedication. He also subscribes to a winemaking style that could best be classified as "old world." I admire that a lot as it implies a light touch while making the wine and a minimum of winemaking technology. Factory production this is not. This is about craft and it is about being quite intimate with the wine through the entire making and maturation process.

This wine is like a Crozes-Hermitage from California. It is quite reminiscent of this Rhone wine with a style that pushes the fruit forward, in this case dark cherries, but balances it with an olive like quality. Almost "green olivy." Sounds off putting, but it works great and the wine is pretty wonderful. It is very balanced, velvety and smooth with a longish finish and tannins that are well in check. Excellent with food, especially duck or venison. Maybe pair it with bison tenderloin. Yum.

Anyway, this was a cool syrah to try and completely different in style than the Ridge and the De Lisio that I raved about last week. All three represent the versatility and range of the Syrah grape, which truly is amazing... and really fun to contrast.

cost - $17.99

winecommando rating (1-10) - 8.5


Anonymous said...

Admittedly we are wine newbies, but we have enjoyed following the variety of wines and the depth of information on winecommando. We tried this wine this evening and while we were fresh out of bison, we did have some chicken and recently unearthed potatoes. We let the wine decant (opened, poured into glasses, and let sit) for approximately 45-48 minutes. Velvety definitely describes this wine... or as we both said upon first taste, "Oh, this is good!" Thanks again for the excellent recommendation! We'll definitely have this one again and look forward to exploring more!

sanspotash said...

Very cool. Glad you found the review helpful and really, really glad you enjoyed the wine. We think it is certainly a standout!

We'll be reviewing a couple more wines from Copain in the near future.