Copain Wines

There isn’t volume at Copain; but there is artistry. Don’t miss it. JOHN FOY, Star Ledger

Copain Winery in the Russian River Valley was established by Well Guthrie in 1999 to make pinot noir, chardonnay and syrah. The genesis of the winery followed stints at Wine Spectator where he assisted in putting together the tastings and then as an assistant to Michel Chapoutier in the Northern Rhone Valley. Both experiences fuelled a love of French wine and more importantly a philosophical understanding of the French view that wine is an intrinisc part of a good life.

Almost immediately, the wines – sourced from disparate vineyard sites across northern California and Pasa Robles – attracted critical acclaim resulting in both sales and the stature of the winery spiralling upward. In the midst of this hysteria however Guthrie became concerned by the heft and alcohol in some of his wines and took the courageous decision to start looking for ways to change the style; dialling down the alcohol levels and concentrating on the elements of French wines that he so admired…i.e. structure, elegance and a savoury aspect. Today the wines reflect the philosophical change and the combination of New World fruit with European-like structure enlivens and casts the individual sites differences more starkly than ever before. Moreover, the move to using fruit predominantly from the coolest sites in northern Sonoma and Mendocino counties reflects Guthrie’s complete conversion to producing wines based around a structural backbone rather than primary fruit. At the same time he is gradually adding in complexity via the addition of new clonal material direct from the nurseries of his friends in Burgundy like Jeremy Seysses at Dujac. The approach is already showing results and the single-vineyard wines from 2012 are as good as we have seen from him. 

Apart from a range of single-vineyard wines, Copain also have a fantastic and inexpensive range known as Tous Ensemble which, as the names suggests, is a blend of fruit from across the tapestry of single sites he works with. PWS