We tasted a nice and varied group of rosés followed by several red wines at a NY Vintners Thursday blind tasting session. All wines are tasted blind to reduce “name-bias” in judging the wines. Rosés are typically used for casual warm weather drinking. The captivating color, pleasant fruitiness and gentle pricing are all part of the appeal of well made rosé wines. But every once and a while a rosé comes along which offers more to the consumer than uncomplicated ease of the average rosé. And we found one during the tasting. It is a rosé made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in the cool Anderson valley in Northern California, bottled under the name Copain. Copain means companion, trusted, sympathetic friend in French. It was the name selected by wine maker Wells Guthrie for the winery he started in 2000. Guthrie is a quiet, reserved fellow with intense eyes who prefers to let his wines rather than his mouth do the speaking. After running the tasting panel for the Wine Spectator in San Francisco, Guthrie moved to the Rhone Valley where he worked with two of France’s greatest vignerons: Michel Chapoutier and Jean-Louis Chave. That’s sort of like working in the kitchens of The French Laundry and Alinea. Why no go to the best? It was clear from his first wines that Guthrie knew what he wanted and knew how to do it—to make elegant, precise, complex yet gentle wine from outstanding cool climate sites in California. He has focused on Syrah and Pinot Noir. All his Pinots come from vineyards in the under-the-radar Anderson Valley which is 100 miles north of Sonoma. His Syrahs are sourced from vineyard sites in various regions of California—from Santa Barbara in the south, Mendocino county in the North and even to Walla Walla in central Washington State. The criterion Gutherie employs is to find sites which allow for full expression of the soil structure and climatic conditions under which the grapes are grown. His wines have received and deserve glowing reviews from the wines press, independent tasters and restaurateurs. His sensibility is the future of California wines. You can be sure that you will be hearing more about his wines from us.
The 2009 Copain Rosé offers a gleaming bright hue of strawberry and pink salmon. The bouquet is a wonderful synthesis of raspberry, vanilla and white flowers. You can smell the Pinot in its incipient stages. On the palate the wine is vibrant, fresh, juicy yet dry with the persistence of a wine selling for much more. The wine quality surpasses that of most rosés by far. Quite attractive on its own, the Copain Rosé can successfully accompany a wide range of grilled, sautéed and steamed foods. You are not likely to taste a better rosé this year. By the way, the Copain labels are lovely.
Bob Millman, New York Vintners
California • Anderson Valley • Pinot Noir