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Copain Les Voisins Chardonnay 2015
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Winemaker Wells Guthrie believes that quality starts with the vineyard. In pursuit of this, Copaín has created and will continue to seek relationships with growers who are committed to what they believe are the key attributes necessary to produce world class wines: vineyard exposition, clonal selections, and dedication to organic farming practices.
In the tradition of great regional village wines from France Wells also produces a series of wine under Copain's Saisons des Vins program. Wines comes from the great regional village wines of France. There are four wines, one for each season of the year. the Varietals are chosen to coincide with the climate and cuisine associated with each. The Rose is for Spring (les printemps) when the weather starts to warm and the picnics begin. The Viognier (formerly Sauvignon Blanc) is crisp and clean for the hot Summer (l'ete) months to accompany the cool salads and dining al fresco. The cooling days of Autumn (l'automne) bring all the earthy fall dishes that call for the perfect Pinot Noir. Finally, Winter (l'hiver), with its cold days beckon for hearty fare and a rich warming Syrah.
In October, 2004, Copain was named "Most Promising New Winery" in the annual Wine Issue of Food & Wine Magazine. Wells was quoted as saying, "I'm trying to keep one foot here and one in the Rhône, to make wines that hem in the ripe fruit we get here and have the elegance of great European wines."
Nearly a northern extension of Napa Valley, Alexander Valley starts just north of the small, Knights Valley, and is just a few minutes drive from the Napa town of Calistoga. It is Sonoma County’s hottest AVA. But the Russian River, which runs through the valley, creates cooler pockets and its soft, alluvial soil is ideal for grape growing, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, some believe that Alexander Valley Cabernets truly rival the best from Napa Valley and many of the heavy-hitter producers have largely invested here.
In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up over 50% of plantings, Merlot and old vine Zinfandel thrive here. Ample, fleshy Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate white wine production. Some old-vine plantings of Grenache have also been discovered and more recent experiments with Sangiovese and Barbera show great promise.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.