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Copain: Three Terrific Affordable Wines

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Wells Guthrie at Copain is primarily known for his impressive single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and Syrahs, most of which are quite small production and, while not crazily expensive, not exactly cheap either. For a while he made a series of affordable wines under the Saison des Vin label, but as he told me today, that mostly just confused people—they didn't know whether the wines were from Copain or not, who was making them, or what they were, exactly. So he's renamed his affordable line Copain "Tous Ensemble," and narrowed it into a set of three regionally designated varietal wines. I tasted them today, and they pretty much blew me away in terms of quality for price (this may be partly because he uses some of the fruit from his single-vineyard sources in the cuvées).

The 2007 Copain Viognier Tous Ensemble Mendocino ($20) is fermented entirely in stainless steel, which shows in its bright, crisp, lightly minerally fruit and almost prickly (in a good way) end. It smells of just-ripe nectarines, and, like all three of these, is made from organically grown grapes.

Then there's the 2007 Copain Tous Ensemble Pinot Noir Anderson Valley ($30), which I thought was remarkably good—tasting it blind, you'd assume this was a single-vineyard bottling at about $20 more a bottle. It has a sweetly floral, raspberry-strawberry aroma; lithe yet saturated fruit (again, ripe raspberry/strawberry in character) that really fills the mouth, a hint of rhubarb and a citrusy tang on the end. 

Finally, the 2007 Copain Tous Ensemble Syrah Mendocino ($20) offers balanced but substantial mocha-plum-blackberry flavors, a nose that suggests smoked meat and fragrant berries, and a grippy but appealing tannic finish. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a better $20 wine for a good steak that I've had recently. 

These wines aren't wildly limited, but they aren't in huge supply either. Probably the best way to track them down is to contact the winery, though wine-searcher.com is always a good option as well. I was also impressed (as usual) with Guthrie's single-vineyard wines, but I'll keep them for a later post; better to start the weekend with a few good bargains.

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