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Wells Guthrie started his career working at the Wine Spectator's San Francisco office as a tasting coordinator. It was during these first few years that he fell in love with Syrah and moved to the Northern Rhone. Wells worked for Chapoutier for two seasons in both the winery and vineyards learning about the Northern Rhone varietals and Biodynamics. Outside of Chapoutier, Wells spent as much time as he could with Jean Louis Chave, who he feels had an equally important impact upon his experiences in the Rhone. Following Chapoutier, Wells returned to work at Turley Wine Cellars working in both the vineyards and cellar, then Martinelli Winery in Windsor under Helen Turley.
Guthrie made his first 400 cases of wine in 1999. Following the lead of Ted Lemon at Littorai, he sourced his grapes from the cool Anderson Valley. He started making his wines in a "fruit bomb" style, undoubtedly influenced by Turley, but has since favored lighter-bodied, balanced and food-friendly red wines. He strives for finesse over power. In 2006, he began picking his grapes earlier to lower the alcohols.
Today, Wells is the full-time owner and winemaker for Copain Wine Cellars. He crafts Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Rhone varietals. The wines are vinified in a modern shared winery in Santa Rosa. Tasting by appointment. The wines are sold on the website.
2009 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., $28. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Brooding nose offering hints of ripe dark fruits, brioche and oak. Generous core of tasty black stone fruits and dark berries wrapped in fine tannins and offering a satiny mouthfeel. A solid fruit-driven wine. Good. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »
2009 Copain “Les Voisons” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., $40. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Complex aromatic profile featuring scents of dark red berries, black cherries, and warm chocolate croissant. The black raspberry and black cherry fruit has impressive vim and vigor, making a statement on the mid palate and sustaining through the remarkably long finish. An underpinning of dark chocolate and a hint of grapefruit add interest. Easy to be seduced by the perfectly ripe fruit and tender silkiness of this wine. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »
2009 Copain Kiser Vineyard “En Bas” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $65. · Moderate reddishpurple color in the glass. The nose offers appealing aromas of black fruits and Chinese 5-spice. Juicy, with a fresh cut of acidity, offering earth-kissed flavors of black raspberries and black plums, ending with a floral and citrus-imbued cranberry note on the finish. Opens slowly in the glass. Unchanged the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. A bit too acidic for me, but this style will find fans. Good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »
2009 Copain Kiser Vineyard “En Haut” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $70. · Subdued aromas of black cherry tart, blackberry jam and oak. Darker berry and cherry flavors are featured, mildly compressed by muscular tannins. Similar to “En Bas,” but more black raspberry fruit intensity, more expressive, more length and more appealing. A good, but not disproportionate cut of acidity on the finish. Very good (+). Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »
2007 Copain Baker Ranch Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $50. · Lighter in color than the Hacienda bottling. A chameleon nose that changes constantly in the glass. Red fruits, smoke, grass, herbs, and barnyard noted. Delicious ripe strawberries on the attack with earth, tea, smoke and herbs in the background. Smooth and moderately light in weight with bright acidity and perfect harmony. Reviewed May 26, 2009 ARTICLE »
2007 Copain Clos Pepe Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $50. · The berry aromas are shy but charming. Rich and full-flavored core of lovely plum and blackberry fruits. Harmonious and thirst-quenching, this wine is a perfect marriage of finesse and powerful flavors. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »
2007 Copain Hacienda Secoya Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $50. · Dark reddish-purple color. Alluring scents of dark red cherries, raspberries, watermelon and a hint of barnyard. Love this nose. Earthkissed berry fruit with a hint of oak smoke. Rich and deeply flavored with bright acidity, soft in the mouth and perfectly balanced. Reviewed May 26, 2009 ARTICLE »
2006 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., $32. · All of the Copain Pinot Noirs show a moderately dark ruby color. The nose leads off with cherry, toast, barnyard and chicken soup aromas. Cranberry, tart cherry, orange peel, and mocha flavors with a citrus edge to the sharp finish. Noticeable drying tannins. Reviewed June 9, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Copain Hacienda Secoya Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $47. · This wine has the most charm and pinotosity of the three 2006 Pinot Noirs tasted. That said, it has a gripy edge with plenty of acidity. The nose is shy and needs coaxing to bring out the savory herbs, strawberry and barnyard scents. The flavors tend toward the red spectrum and are tart. Silky in texture but a bit flat. Noticeable tannins will need time to soften. Reviewed June 9, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Copain Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., $54. · Complex aromatic profile showing black fruits, forest floor, smoke, oak and a whiff of alcohol. Earth-dusted dark fruit which is herbal and wood-toned. Massive fruit lacks finesse. Deep, dark and mysterious, and very primal. Not for Pinot Noir purists. Needs time to shed its bold tannins. Very typical of this vineyard. Reviewed June 9, 2008 ARTICLE »