Monday, June 14, 2010

2004 Madder Lake Syrah from Copain

I really like the wines from Wells Guthrie and his Copain. They’re all most often quite elegant, I wouldn’t say truly classic since they have the typical Californian fruit, still they’re never too ripe, nor to strong. For the pinots, harvest is done at no higher ripeness than 23 Brix, for the syrahs just a bit riper, hence alcohol levels at moderate 13.5 percent for the pinots and 14.2 percent for the syrahs, the most.
For both Pinot Noir and Syrah, the vinification is carried out in the same way, which means a few days of cold soak before the juice is fermented with its natural yeast in small open top fermenters with frequent pigeage for a gentle extraction. However, for the syrahs, most of the grape bunches are not destemmed, like in this wine where Wells used 75 percent whole cluster.
The more European oriented philosophy have made Wells Guthrie turned his view to cooler vineyards sites, most of his Pinot Noir grapes are purchased from the cool wine region Anderson Valley in northwest Mendocino, whereas Syrah is sourced from many regions, like Santa Lucia Highland (the great Gary’s Vineyard) and Chalk Hill (the Brosseau Vineyard) in Monterey, Santa Ynez Valley (Harrison Clarke Vineyard) and Lake County.

2004 Madder Lake Syrah / 91 p
The grapes, in this cuvée approximately 95 percent Syrah and five percent Viognier, are all sourced from Lake County just north of Napa Valley. The two grapes are co-fermented and wine is then kept in French oak barrels to mature. Color is still youthful, dark and purple and almost opaque, and the nose is rich and densely fruit driven in a quite seductive way, where notes of dark cherries and blackberries as well as plums are enriched with a lovely aroma of sweet apricots and violets (these notes derives from the Viognier), and also a delicious dash of dried French herbs. It’s a young wine, quite ripe and lush with a fine texture of sweet fruit and glycerol, yet marked by tannins and a toasty and slightly bitter oak structure. It’s lovely, for sure, but still I’d like to keep it another year or two before I touch it again, only because the finish is a bit closed and bitter at present. When I tasted it, it took almost 30 minutes in the glass for the wine to open completely, so decanting is needed if served young.
Drink it 2011-2024.

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