Copain Wines: Suave & Subtle

Copain Wines mix European stylistic sensibility with Californian fruit. To add a layer of complexity, these wines are made in Healdsburg, one of Sonoma’s sweetest towns, yet none are made with Sonoma fruit. Alas, it’s hardly the first time something in the wine world has seemed contradictory. What is utterly clear with Copain Wines, however, is that they are supremely delicious.

Copain 2013 Pinot Noir Monument Tree Anderson Valley 13%
Like the other Copain wines, this big gun feels more full-bodied than its 13% suggests it should. It’s a highly wound-up, young release. Decanting it for three to four hours allows its complexity to come raring forth. In fact without decanting, its massive concentration almost makes it hard to sip if you’re hoping for layers of flavors to explore, even if it’s profoundly tasty. On first sniff, there are blackberries and blueberry preserves. With a few hours of air, this bottling morphs into highly ripe mulberries, meaty duck breast served with Marasca cherries and damp earth. It’s exotic, hearty and broad-shouldered with expansive but gentle tannins and highly integrated acidity. 91

Copain 2012 Pinot Noir Kiser En Haut Anderson Valley 13.2%
This wine has a beautifully pure and high-toned nose redolent of tart black cherries, boysenberries and baked black plums. The fruit is generously ripe but neither mouth-coatingly rich nor utterly saturating. A bit paler in color than its sibling “En Bas”, it shows a slightly murky core. The long finish allows the fruit to evolve on the palate well after the last sip has gone. This bottling’s piercing acidity suggests it will hold on tighter for longer than the “En Bas”. Either way, this one is ever-so-slightly more food friendly today and that will surely hold true in the long run, too. 92

Copain 2012 Pinot Noir Kiser En Bas Anderson Valley 13.3%
This wine has been open four hours, and it’s almost as ungiving as when it was first uncorked. There’s so much character lurking beneath that it’s sure to frustrate the impatient. Discipline is the best path: simply don’t open this for a few years. Tediously trying to peel back the layers of the onionskin with my open bottle, I smell blackcurrant jelly, roasted black cherries, light baking spices and a hint of just-lit charcoal. The flavors are richly mouthcoating and linger a long while. It’s fine to see what the wine gives now – and what it gives is lovely, but it’s a pity to open it so early. If you can’t resist, try a Coravin pour then let the bottle age gracefully. 91

Copain 2011 Chardonnay Laureles Grade Monterey 12.8%
This wine has an impressively fresh and bright nose, especially at four years on. It smells of tangerine pith, clove-studded apples, roasted hazelnuts and (if somewhat odd as a descriptor) Communion wafers. The palate is smooth with a light creaminess supremely balanced by a racy acidity. It’s sheer class from start to medium finish. The palate is super-pure and highly focused with idyllic ripeness: it’s neither too lean nor does it verge into the tropical. It is sheer pleasure to smell this bottling unfold over several hours. Be sure not to serve it too cold to get the full impact from the start, especially if you’ll be sharing the bottle with more than one person and hence serving more of the bottle more quickly. 92

Copain 2013 Chardonnay DuPratt Anderson Valley 13.1%
Über youthful on the nose, this wine smells of ripe peach, sun-baked hay and toasted walnut pith. Its vibrancy and structure make is a dynamic wine on the palate. There’s almost a hint of youthful petillance as well. This wine is sophisticated and savory, and every detail of the wine is phenomenally well-integrated. It drinks beautifully at room temperature. Don’t serve too cold! 93

Copain 2012 Chardonnay Brosseau Chalone 13.4%
This wine shows some of its New World flair when it is first opened. However, with a bit of air, time and a slightly warmer temperature, it becomes rather Burgundian. The wine’s moderate weight is focused in the center of the palate rather than feeling broad, even though the wine exhibits a generous and tasty leesiness. Buttered white bread, white peach, apricot skin and almond peel waltz across the palate. That is to say, there’s a lot going on in this wine. It is utterly delightful today, and while it may become more interesting, it’s hard to say if could be even more delish than it is now. This lingering finish is very more-ish. 94