Copain Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah 2006

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California Syrah is in a bad way. Sales are decreasing and plantings are being ripped out and replaced with vines like the ever popular Pinot Noir. Some of this unpopularity is justified when you look at bad over-extracted examples. However, when Syrah is planted in cooler sites in California, it can make absolutely fantastic wine with a real sense of place and typicity. Copain is a producer that focuses on making these sorts of wines.

Europe in California

Copain is headed by Wells Guthrie who spent two years apprenticing to Michel Chapoutier in the Rhone Valley before starting his own winery in Sonoma. He is trying to make wine that implements many French traditions while being true to California fruit. Based on what I’ve tasted so far I think he’s managed to achieve this goal.

This wine is from the highly respected Eaglepoint Ranch vineyard in Mendocino County, which is north of San Francisco and near the Sonoma and Napa valleys. This vineyard provided Copain with the fruit for the 1999 Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah that launched their reputation. It is an interesting vineyard that supplies wine to lots of highly respected names, including Sean Thackrey. If you’re interested in learning more about the history and direction of Eaglepoint Ranch, check out this fantastic article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Wine

This is glorious California Syrah – rich but pure fruit, black cherries and black berry but also charcoal, game and violets. You won’t mistake this for Northern Rhone, but the wine is extremely well balanced and bears an easy deliciousness that makes it highly recommended for those seeking the middle ground between geeky contemplative stuff and pure sensuous enjoyment. I’ve heard a few other vineyard designated wines from Copain are in or will be in the market – so keep your eyes open.

Excellent
$90 at Kits Wine

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