I get a small pang of pride whenever I taste or drink a Copain wine. Wells Guthrie, the proprietor, got his start in the wine business coordinating blind tastings for me and James Laube when we both did our reviewing out of the San Francisco office. Then he jetted off to France to work for Chapoutier, and later Chave, finally putting the experience to work making impressively elegant Syrahs in California.
Lately he has been branching into Pinot Noir, and when I found the Copain Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Tous Ensemble 2007 on the by-the-glass list at XIV in Los Angeles for $13 a glass, how could I not order it? I loved the delicacy and elegance of the wine. It was refined, and it whistled with crisp blueberry and currant fruit, lingering hauntingly. I would rate it 90 points, non-blind. It kept its poise even against Michael Mina's rich duck with foie gras and grilled lamb and merguez skewers.
Copain specializes in single-vineyard wines, but Guthrie is also a selective winemaker. If he gets several different clones from a vineyard, he will ferment them separately, and only use the ones that make the most representative wine from that vineyard. He has to do something with the bits that don't fit, and they go into Tous Ensemble, a blend of several vineyards that has considerably more delicacy than most California Pinots.