Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2006 l'Hiver Syrah from Copain

Not all winemakers are born into their profession. Actually, very few are, and in California they are even harder to find. What most often makes the California winemakers to choose their profession in wine is passion, and to me that’s one of the important cornerstones in quality. Wells Guthrie started his career in wine as a coordinator for the blind tastings at Wine Spectator in 1995, and although his job didn’t include the actual tasting of the wines, he gradually got more and more involved in wine. After two years, he left to go to Europe, where he worked one vintage at Chapoutier in Tain l’Hermitage. There, he learned a lot about viticulture and winemaking. Back in California again, he contacted the winemakers he admired since the wine tasting days at Wine Spectator, among them Mia Klein and Ehren Jordan. It resulted in one vintage with Ehren Jordan at Turley Cellars, and then he was on the hook. The only way to go, was to set up his own wine company, Copain.

2006 l’Hiver Syrah (Copain) / 89-90
At first, I found the nose to be a bit closed, even if it offers a quite intense dark fruit which is quite appealing. But to be honest, it’s not more than that. It’s ripe but not too sweet, more on the fresh side with pure notes of blackberries, and not a single nuance of oak. That’s good. But be patience, after just a few minutes in the glass, notes of violets and licorice, as well as some meaty aromas rises through the fruit and adds a good portion of complexity to the fruit. And now I really like the wine and find it interesting. Of course this sudden transformation from fruit to complexity is due to the youth of the wines. The same effect, but with an even more complex result, will occur with a few years of bottle age. On the palate, the wine is fruit forward and rich, again quite intense and almost slightly sweet at first, but there is a serious structure of silky tannins and fresh acidity to balance the fruit. The spicy note comes with air, and the finish is fresh and fruity, as well as silky and elegant. Drink it over the next 4-6 years.

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