2016 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Pinot Noir
Back in the day, California was known for making concentrated, extracted wines – only. Maybe it was Parker Palate, maybe it was just a newfound bold style, but whatever it was, Chardonnays were buttery and creamy; Cabs were concentrated, dark and burly; and Merlots were vampish and round. Those were the days!
Some two decades ago, Wells Guthrie was making those kinds of wines, and he was highly rewarded for them. Both in terms of fame, as he got big Parker Points, and also in terms of money – the wines sold so well. But what he noticed was that after a couple of years making that Big Style of wine, every time he’d drink one of his own wines he’d have a glass, and then move on to something else. His palate had changed to wanting something lighter, fresher, and more sensuous to the taste without being heavy.
And with the money he made in Big Wines he invested in a new winery, a new grape, in a far-flung, cooler California location: Anderson Valley. There he planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, on a quest to craft the magical elixir he was dreaming of.
And he succeeded – Copain Wines was born, and for several vintages it was a great success. It became a harbinger of the “New Style” of California wines: fresh, drinkable, and with serious aromatic complexity and delightful dexterity on the palate.
Unfortunately, this is the point in our story where Wells Guthrie exits – a hard divorce led to the winery being sold. But this does allow us to introduce you to the current winemaker and general manager of Copain: Ryan Zepaltas.
Ryan is actually a Wisconsin native, and he grew up here with dreams of becoming a professional shredder. That’s right, a skateboarder. When young, somebody told him that if you wanna make it as a gnarly longboarder, you gotta go to San Francisco. He did, and he was broke in two weeks. Luckily, a friend hired him as the cellar rat at La Crema, which led to further wine jobs, which led to an interview with Siduri, in 2000.
And now, the second birth of the cool. In 2000, Siduri was the odd-man-out small winery making single-lot, New-School Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. While Siduri has since gone on to grace the cover of Wine Spectator and earn accolades across the globe, back then, what they were doing was unheard of! Ryan knew he had found a happy home. Indeed, he spent almost 20 years making wine there.
Then fate intervened. The original owners of Siduri sold the winery. Ryan was out of a job. Wells Guthrie of Copain sold his winery and exited the Cali wine scene. And then the new owners asked Ryan to take over Guthrie’s seminal work – Copain. And here is his beautiful wine on offer today:
“Tous Ensemble” means “all-together”, which I think nicely describes this wine in two ways. First, it’s a blend of Copain’s cool-climate vineyards up in Anderson Valley. It opens with the beautiful red fruit of Pinot Noir – red plum, pomegranate, impressions of raspberry, black tea, and brown sugar flowing in a gorgeous display of flavor. The palate is brilliantly light, bright and full of flavor, soft-edged but with moxie on the finish.
The second meaning for “all together” is the suggestion that it offers a perfect compliment to any dish, whether it be something serious like roasted chicken with pomegranate molasses atop a butternut squash-mascarpone puree, or a simple hunk of California’s Humboldt Fog goat cheese. Balanced, fresh, and ready to drink, this wine is beautiful – and we got it at a heck of a deal!