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and so it begins...


Single Vineyard, Single Clone, Single Barrel - MonoClone®

Learning from the best in Chambolle

On our last visit to Burgundy, Don and I were privileged to spend time with Francois Bertheau, who has been a great favorite of mine for crafting the most elegant and complex Chambolle, especially his Bonnes Mares. This was a long day of great food and extraordinary wines, but the most compelling memory was the tasting of the 2007 vintage in barrels, which were simply intoxicating. Francois was especially generous with his time as we had a thousand questions and he revealed without hesitation what he believes makes his wines so compelling. One of the key component is that Francois will use large 600 liter barrels from a specific forest and tonnellerie (cooperage). He also extends the aging to allow for the wine to develop exotic aromatics and to round the shoulders, creating wines of great complexity, lace, and silk.

We took note. Years later, Don and I still speak of that magical day that was truly an epiphany for us, especially after we opened some of the 2007 Bonnes Mares and Les Amoureuses that we were so fortunate to taste in barrel and enjoyed once bottled. Simply put, they are why we make Pinot Noir.

In 2012 as the planets aligned, we decided that the time was right to put that “Bertheau” philosophy to the test. From the vineyard nestled in the redwood forest, we selected the very best grapes through multiple passes at harvest and with 50% whole cluster fermentation. We aged the wine in ONE 600 liter barrel, with this vintage we felt we it could age for an extended time…we waited, AND WAITED…for 28 Months…to create SOLITAIRE.

There are very few times one can feel truly lucky and privileged that their craft can stand along with the very best. SOLITAIRE confirms all of our expectations and embodies our commitment and passion to create compelling Pinot Noirs. SOLITAIRE originates from humble admiration of the magnificent, peerless wines of BERTHEAU and we thank Francois for showing us the way.

SOLITAIRE is simply magical, if you have the chance to taste this wine blind next to a Bonnes Mares Grand Cru from Bertheau, it will be quite a day!!!! I simply can not believe how amazing the similitudes are, especially being from opposite side of the world. Our goals have always focused on being in the conversation with Great Burgundies and SOLITAIRE is the reward – anything else for us is simply not acceptable. Some may feel that it is presumptuous of us to even declare such ideas, others, closer to us hint it is just madness…obsession.

We could tell you so much more about this fascinating wine, the magnificent vineyard, steep slope in the middle of the redwoods, just a few rows lost in the fog, the commitment to pick over multiple days in the middle of the night to gather the very best clusters, the search for the perfect barrel, but the best part will be in the glass, when you really taste this wine.

When we opened the first bottle the other night over one of our legendary dinners next to a 2007 Bertheau Bonnes Mares, we were speechless and a little confused of which one was in which glass. I thought that I may have switched the glasses in error. Then we smiled, we smiled a lot. Since SOLITAIRE was born from One 600 liter barrel and we also believe that this Pinot Noir will age magnificently, we also decided that we would bottle half of it in Magnums. Big barrel. Big bottles. Makes sense to us.

In Burgundy, a winemaker may reserve a special barrel for friends and family. They call this barrel Soliste. SOLITAIRE defines the origin and the promise of Soliste. From one barrel only 39 cases of 750s and 144 Magnums of Solitaire were produced. Although it hurts to part with so few bottles, sharing this special release with you, the very few that have been loyal supporters of our journey, fills us with joy and pride.



2012 Solitaire label 2012 SOLITAIRE Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

Tasting Notes 

Le Regard / The Look
Exquisite depth and luminosity showing density and structure, raspberry and boysenberry gemlike in the glass, like a dark scintillating ruby.

Le Nez / The Nose
The nose is brimming with seductive red fruits, intense and spiced with earthy minerality. Exotic aromas of wild cherries and raspberries soaked in Kirsch interlaced with herbal essences, violets, toasted pistachios, and marzipan. As the wine evolves in the glass or decanter, the aromatics become more focused and dense with dark cherry compote aromatics, sous-bois ( forest floor) accented with a marrow like sense of meaty richness that fills the air. Stunning!!!

Degustation / The Taste
Pronounced concentration of dark wild cherry and blueberry compote lifted with cloves, anise, and cardamom. This is classic Chambolle; the mid palate delivers an elegant silky and refined texture, very exotic and elastic, filling the mouth with caramelized plums and fresh herbal aromatics, all in a superb balance and harmony. Positively refined in texture the smooth tannins have clearly benefited from the extended barrel aging, accented with bright natural acidity of tart pomegranate and cranberries. Great length on the finish…this Pinot will age magnificently as the aromas will simply become more voluptuous with time.

13.5% alc. 65 cases produced
Extremely Limited Allocation 750ml $100.00
Magnum 1.5L $225.00


An extraordinary, extremely limited Pinot Noir release

2012 MonoClone® Horizontal

L’Espérance, Nouveau Monde, and L’Ambroisie

“Vintage of the Decade”
So much has been written about the 2012 growing season. Will the wines deliver and stack up to the expectations?  True, it was ideal climatic conditions for Pinot Noir in every sense of the word. We have often said that the most compelling wines come from difficult growing seasons. These are the years where careful vineyard management and a deft touch in the cellar shine through in compelling wines which was reflected in our 2011 vintage. The temptation with a stellar vintage like 2012 is to be greedy and not manage the yield aggressively since there is an abundance of perfect clusters on the vines. Discipline and yield management is at a premium. We feel that the greatest opportunity to reap the benefit of such nature’s gift is by harvesting vineyards on multiple days and passes. This commitment gives proper time for the stems of each cluster to develop nutty and toasted aromatics that will be pressed whole to help create wines of great depth, spice and complexity.

We have been waiting for such a vintage for our MonoClone Pinot Noir. This is the reward.

In normal circumstances, we release each Pinot Noir on their own time lines at their Apex so you can experience them at their best. As we tasted the wines, it became clear that we had a rare opportunity to release the Big 3 – our most elegant, rare wines – together. This way you can truly enjoy and taste the depth and how different each vineyard and clone are from each other, yet all have the Soliste pedigree.


L’Espérance 2012: Chambolle, Les Amoureuses, the inspiration, the quest, the result!

The exotic concentrated aromatics of the 2012 are the result of our desire to harness the purity and layers after layers of complexity of one clone from one vineyard. It has always been our most sought after release. Because of our mad commitment to produce much fewer cases to craft extraordinary pinots that exemplify their identity and Terroir, L’Espérance has become a very rare wine, not because we intended it to be, but because of the limited amount of wine produced.

2012 L'Esperance Label 2012 Soliste Pinot Noir L'Espérance, Sonoma Coast

Tasting Notes 

Le Regard / The Look
Extraordinary Ruby clarity of freshly pressed raspberries and groseilles (red currants) with deep gemlike luminosity.

Le Nez / The Nose
A clear expression of Morey St Denis/Chambolle clone (Dijon 115): Impressive concentration of ripe black cherries, raspberry liqueur aromas layered with musty sous-bois (forest floor), refined scents of rose petals, exotic spices, cardamom, peppery herbals (mint) interlaced with white pepper. As the wine evolves in the glass or decanter, the aromatics become more refined, superbly pure, and complex adding caramel and black tea must – L’Espérance 2012 is concentration and elegance, a stunning paradox.

Degustation / The Taste
The palate carries on the theme, attacking with precise and harmonious layers of spiced caramelized black cherries and raspberries, an intensity that is only matched by the refined silky but peppery texture. This intense and pure fruit compote leads to silky-textured, pure and beautifully delineated minerals, wet granite, earthy truffles, black tea must, cardamom, and herbal aromatics (mint, fennel). These aromas culminate in a driving, tension –filled, and gorgeously harmonious long finish.

The paradoxical concentration and intensity of L’Espérance embodies our philosophy: Focus on a single clone gave birth to this absolutely stunning Pinot Noir. Powerful, yet refined, what a pinot noir should be and rarely is. This amazing vintage reminds me of my favorite Chambolle, “ Les Amoureuses.”

13.1% alc. 214 cases
By Allocation  $ 85.00 


Nouveau Monde 2012: Pommard meet Corton, the metamorphosis of Elegance into Power.

Expect great fascination from this incredibly aromatic, exotic and elegant Pinot Noir. Nouveau Monde is the pure expression of our Philosophy: To focus on a single clone to craft a wine that beautifully marries the virtues of both Corton and Pommard.

2011 Nouveau Monde Label 2012 Soliste Pinot Noir Nouveau Monde, Sonoma Coast

Tasting Notes 

Le Regard / The Look
Gemlike ruby luminosity with vibrant red currant crystalline; a Cote de Beaune classic.

Le Nez / The Nose
The nose is loaded with pure red fruits (raspberries, wild strawberries, pomegranate) layered with violets, exotic spices interlaced with black tea leaves; brilliantly fresh and vivacious.

Degustation / The Taste
The palate delivers extraordinary verve with a compelling concentration of Groseilles ( red currants) and strawberry rhubarb compote, silkened with fatty vanilla. This is a wine of Grande Finesse, velvety, focused and chiseled. It carries on with great abundance of bright red fruits (red tart cherries), rose petal and salinity. The mid-palate is all lace; refined tannins are accented by earthy sous-bois (forest floor), wet stone, and toasted herbal aromatics, all in great balance and harmony. Positively silken in texture, the crystalline acidity of freshly crushed tart raspberries laced with tea must produces high pitch length and a finish seldom witnessed.

13.1% alc. 114 cases
By Allocation $ 85.00 


L’Ambroisie 2012: Legendary Vintage, Legendary wine. The grail.

This exceptional vintage captures all the Alchemy that becomes Great Pinot Noir, the intoxicating nose, powerful yet refined with layers of spice, sous-bois, truffles and wild cherry, amazing length and complex finish (if there is one). Magical!!!

L’Ambroisie is not an experiment, it benefits from its siblings L’Espérance and Nouveau Monde, and from being in the conversation with Great Burgundies – anything else for us is simply not acceptable. Some may feel that it is presumptuous of us to even declare such ideas, others, closer to us hint it is just madness…obsession.

We could tell you so much more about this fascinating wine, the magnificent vineyard, steep slope in the middle of the redwoods, just a few rows lost in the fog, the historical mystery about its DNA and origins of the clone. “By the way, this is the 828 clone,” it was whispered. Could it be, the rumored La Tâche clone? Mystère…

2012 L'Ambroisie Label 2012 Soliste Pinot Noir L'Ambroisie, Sonoma Coast

Tasting Notes 

With the 2012 vintage, Claude was without words, “In the end, once you have tasted L’Ambroisie, I assure you, words cannot adequately describe how you will feel. I have always talked about that our wines are crafted with finesse and elegance so they can be the perfect pairing and marriage with great food, and this is certainly true for L’Ambroisie. But for me, just this once, I will retreat with a bottle and my glass, as a hermit without any distraction to experience it in deep Zen and simple bliss.

There are no tasting notes as I want the wine to speak for itself. But if you insist, please email me at and I will be happy to compare notes. It will be fun!!! Don will post the dialogue on our Facebook page to share the experience as if we sat around the same table.”

13.5% alc. 69 cases
Sold Out $100.00 


March Madness: When Pigs Fly!

Ultimate Sommelier Smackdown
16 Pinots – 4 Master Sommeliers – 1 Winner

Soliste 2010 Forêt, Sonoma Coast
An unexpected recognition


Pigs and Pinot – There is no better pairing! Charlie Palmer’s celebration of Pinot Noir and all things Pork has be-come an iconic event on the Pinot calendar. This year Master Sommelier (and 2014 Smackdown King) Keith Goldston selected 2010 Soliste Forêt to be included in the “Ultimate Sommelier Smackdown.” Four Master Sommeliers each present four Pinot Noirs (16 in all) to be evaluated against each other in a 2014 Pigs and Pinot Sommeliers and Solisteshall we say, French debate style. No wonder Claude enjoyed it so much. Pairs of Pinots were brought together and the sommelier defended their choice (or spoke poorly of their competition and the pedigree of the other sommelier, you get the idea…smackdown!). A tent of 100 enthusiastic pinot lovers raised their hands to select their favorite. Four rounds later, Soliste Forêt stood alone, the winner of the 2014 Sommelier Smackdown.

In the final round, scores of people held out empty glasses, asking for more Forêt – it was amazing! At that point, our dream was realized regardless of outcome. We have always said the best way to determine the best wine is to look for the empty glass. The pinot-lovers voted with their palate and that ultimately is what really matters to us. The Flying Pig trophy held by our talented winemaker Ryan Zepaltas made a perfect centerpiece for our festive family celebration dinner late into the night.

Forêt represents everything we believe can arise from our commitment to Single Vineyard, Single Clone, and Single Cooperage (MonoClone®) wines. Why have we accepted this unknown risk to make MonoClone Pinots? It simply comes from our fascination for great red Burgundies. These amazing wines all have very different aromatics and complexities within just a few kilometers: Volnay is very different from Gevrey, Chambolle, Pommard, Vosne, Vougeot, Corton… So we decided to identify a Single Clone, married with a specific site, climate and exposure and then, to age individually in their respective single cooperage (barrels). Forêt is absolutely unique, stand alone, and we did not think in our wildest dreams that it would be possible to craft a Pinot Noir in California of such depth, spice and earthiness. Forêt is indeed ready now, but it will age for many years as the structure of this magnificent wine is timeless.

Forêt brings Claude back to his home in Bourgogne from a very unlikely place in the Sonoma fog where we began together the journey that is Soliste.


Forêt 2011, the mysterious and intoxicating aromas of Vosne Romanée. 

2011 Nouveau Monde Label 2011 Soliste Pinot Noir Forêt, Sonoma Coast

Tasting Notes 

Le Regard / The Look
Mysterious depth and luminosity showing density and structure, dark boysenberry gemlike in the glass, a clear reflection of tannin purity.

Le Nez / The Nose
Extremely Exotic aromas of bitter caramelized wild cherries, plums, and earthiness interlaced with herbal tones, violets, espresso grounds and refined scents of sous-bois (forest floor). As the wine evolves in the glass or decanter, the aromatics become more focused and dense with dark cherry compote aromatics, superbly elegant and powerful, adding bitter chocolate and pine needles.

Degustation / The Taste
The palate delivers extraordinary texture and depth with tight layers of exotic spice and black tea must. This is a wine of great depth, structure and grip. Pronounced concentration of dark wild cherry compote and spiced plums spiked with bitter caramel, black pepper, and cocoa nibs. The mid-palate is definitely earthy (oh, Vosne Romanee here you come) laced of musty sous-bois (forest floor), mushrooms, black tea, anise, and fresh herbal aromatics, all in a superb balance and harmony. Positively refined in texture but palpably dense in tannic concentration accented with bright natural acidity, the finish is simply infinite. It will linger and linger and…This Pinot will age magnificently as the aromas will simply become more voluptuous with time.

12.9% alc. 149 cases
Sold Out $ 85.00 


Introducing a one of a kind Pinot Noir

Barrique 9

Single Vineyard, Single Clone, One Barrel - MonoClone®



Crafting a single barrel of Pinot Noir is the soul of Soliste as the name itself has deep meaning. In Burgundy, Soliste is the Barrel that a winemaker reserves for his friends and family and it is our Credo.

Within each harvest and vintage of our single vineyards, we continue to refine and experiment on each MonoClone. Our yearly ritual of barrel tasting is a marathon for the senses and can be challenging on the palate, yet once in a blue moon a barrel stands out. From our MonoClone Pinot Noir Forêt’s vineyard, the 9th barrel stood out. Barrique 9 has great pedigree – Forêt 2010 was the winner of the Pigs & Pinot Sommelier Smackdown in Healdsburg last March.

Barrique 9 defines the origin and the promise of Soliste. From one barrel only 23 cases of Barrique 9 were made, they were each hand bottled into unique Burgundy bottles, then hand waxed. We first served Barrique 9 at the private wine dinner at the newly crowned Michelin Star restaurant Piora in NY in October, and now it is ready to be shared with you.

We will never again make a wine called Barrique 9.


2011 Barrique 9Label 2011 Barrique 9 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

Tasting Notes 

Le Regard / The Look
The wine shows the depth of a much older vintage, striking density of dried red cherries and rose petals reminiscent of an aged Vosne-Romanée. Magical.

Le Nez / The Nose
Extreme Finesse!!! Dried rose petals and violets layered with bitter caramelized wild cherries, deep earth tones, truffles and refined scents of sous-bois (forest floor). As the wine evolves in the glass or decanter, the aromatics become more focused and lifted with wild cherry compote aromatics. Superbly elegant and earthy: a nose usually only attained with 8 to 10 years in the cellar.

Degustation / The Taste
The palate unveils an extraordinary silky texture. Barrique 9 delivers the tightest layers of dry red fruits, rose petals, truffles and earthiness. This is a wine of amazing elegance and finesse in texture. Pure concentration of wild red cherry compote and spiced raspberries spiked with bitter caramel, black pepper, and black tea must. The mid-palate is definitely earthy (oh, Vosne-Romanée here you come) laced with very musty sous-bois (forest floor), violets, dried rose petals, and soft herbal aromatics, all in a refined balance and harmony. Positively silky and exotic in texture, one that should be seen in a much older wine, the micro tannins give way to an infinite elegant finish. It will linger and linger and…this Pinot will age magnificently as the aromas will simply become more voluptuous with time.

Barrique 9 - Deep Memories of Vosne-Romanée

12.9% alc. 23 cases
Sold Out $ 100.00 


A Tribute to Didier Dagueneau, The Master of St Andelain.

For the very few that had the privilege to spend time with Didier, he had a profound impact, instilling an uncompromised passion for vineyards and wine making. He single handedly revolutionized Sauvignon Blanc, bringing it to Grand Cru status as any great white Burgundy. Known for his wild mane of unkempt hair and bushy beard (le chien fou), he was an iconoclast among vignerons and sommeliers. Though he had no formal winemaking training, he was infatuated with great Burgundies and used methods uncommon to Pouilly-Fumé, including severe pruning for drastically low yields, hand-harvesting of fruit over several successive passes (tris) through the vineyards, vineyard designate bottling, skin contact, and barrel-fermentation.

Dagueneau's wines steadily became the unchallenged qualitative leaders of Pouilly-Fumé, including Pur Sang, Silex, Buissson Renard, and Asteroide. He stated, “I want to be the best. If you want to be the best, you need the methods and techniques to get you there: Your vines must bear the best grapes; your vinification must be the most rigorous. There are no recipes. It's all in the details of viticulture and all the details of winemaking, the assemblage of little things, 100 details and commitments which makes for the minute differences between a good wine and a great one.”

He also created his own barrels, the most famous being a cigar shape barrel we have adopted at Soliste to craft St Andelain.

Dagueneau's personality was as powerful as his wines. He was incredibly competitive. After a youth spent racing motorcycles, he switched to dog sled racing later in life. His wild, sometimes confrontational style occasionally ruffled feathers among his fellow vignerons, as he tirelessly pushed for higher quality in the appellation. In one sign of how he typically tried to set himself apart from others, he began using the older name of the appellation — Blanc Fumé de Pouilly — on his labels.  “I think Sauvignon is one of the most complex and subtle grapes,” he once said, “But it's very hard to extract that complexity.”

Didier will be missed. Fortunately his son Benjamin is now at the helm and his 2008 are one of the best vintages ever. Long live Didier. (Read more about Didier here)


2012 St Andelain Label 2012 St Andelain Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County

Keeping the Dream Alive / A Tour de Force

St Andelain is our homage to the incomparable late Didier Dagueneau. Born from a single organic vineyard, the grapes were destemmed and allowed 36 hours of skin contact to create unique richness and depth. After pressing we barrel fermented and aged for 16 months in Didier’s creation, the Cigar Barrel. There is no malolactic fermentation to preserve acidity, verve and length.

St Andelain is a true expression of Soliste wines: Exceptional vineyards, meticulous grape selection, elegant balance of acidity and aromatics, to create wines of great complexity and finesse.

Tasting Notes: If Raveneau had made Sauvignon Blanc…

Le Regard / The Look
Superbly crystalline, elegant pale golden tones faded into minerality that sparkles, expressing a wine of great verve and leanness.

Le Nez / The Nose
Aromas of marine oyster shells, sea weed and fleur de sel, with secondary layers of elderflowers, passion fruit, and kefir lime – Reminding Claude of the winter cold ocean spray in Brittany over the oyster beds.

Degustation / The Taste
Very refined and elegant; classic oyster shell laced with lean lime notes, green pineapple rind, gooseberry, and white currants. The middle palate is all about a seductive yet firm texture – the brightness of the fruit takes hold in the mouth, incrementally building and expanding from cheek to cheek with layers of green tea, sea brine, baked apple, cream of sweet white corn, and hay. As with our Lune et Soleil, the high pitch acidy creates a razor sharp finish of lime and grapefruit peel, laced with saline minerality and stone fruits.

St Andelain is a defining moment for Soliste: Elegant, full of verve, exotic, precise….Soliste!

12.9% alc. 212 cases
By Allocation  $ 55.00 



Introducing Les Cailles Chardonnay  

If you remember the story of “Never Say Never” and the adventure that produced 2010 L’Age D’Or Chardonnay, we made reference to another wine called Les Cailles. We said that if 2010 Les Cailles was not ready to release, we would not. To date, we remain unhappy with the 2010 vintage of this wine and keeping true to our promise, if we don’t love to drink it we won’t sell it. Fortunately, the 2011 vintage is a different story. From a small section of the vineyard we fermented the grapes in concrete eggs from Burgundy for 11 months, then transferred to 100% neutral French oak and aged for an additional 11 months. The combination preserved acidity and liveliness, and we share it with you now.

Aromas of Puligny Montrachet

2010 L'Age D'Or Label 2010 Soliste Chardonnay Les Cailles, Russian River Valley

Tasting Notes 
The wine reveals sumptuous aromas of flint, lemon curd and white orchard fruits laced with rose petals and chalk. The soft and smooth aromas are followed seamlessly from the nose by a complex and zesty infusion of buttery pears, apricots and lemon curd, accented by a fresh texture of white peaches and ripe grapefruit. The middle palette carries on with an impressive creamy density; salted buttery caramel intertwined with green tart apple and toasted nuts. The finish is all about precision and acid minerality, it is broad, weighty with a firm acid spine. Finesse, length, and elegance…….Soliste

13.6% alc. 69 cases
Sold Out  $ 50.00 

2013 Soleil Rouge Label 2013 Soleil Rouge Rosé de Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

We always look forward to this time of year to celebrate the arrival of Soleil Rouge – our crisp, vivacious refreshing Rosé with complexity and balanced acidity that, we will promise you, will not last long in our cellars. The only thing better than a chilled glass of Rosé, is another glass of Rosé, followed by a glass of Soliste Pinot Noir. Share the joy.

Soleil Rouge is "Le Vin des Amis" – fresh, lively, served chilled to warm your heart and fill you with joy and conviviality. Enjoy with charcuterie, oysters, or our favorite, fire pit paella. Just a few cases are available – this year we will work even harder to drink them all first!

Tasting Notes:
The Soliste pinot noir heritage is unmistakable: Exotic aromas of Strawberry Rhubarb and freshly crush tart rasp-berries interlaced with citrus peel, followed by the taste of Fraise des Bois (wild strawberries), pomegranate, melon and pink grapefruit. The chalky minerality layered with stone fruit pit and green almond aromatics creates depth and complexity to compliment the bright tangerine acidity and nervy finish. Elegance, finesse, vivacity, freshness...Soliste. Once again we ask, why oh why did we make so little of it?

13.1% alc.  242 cases
Sold Out $ 22.00 


2013 Lune et Soleil Label 2013 Lune et Soleil Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County

Keeping Didier's dream alive.

Lune et Soleil is a true expression of Soliste wines – Exceptional vineyards, meticulous grape selection, elegant balance of acidity and aromatics, to create wines of great complexity and finesse.

Inspired by the great late Didier Dagueneau, Lune et Soleil is crafted from a single organically farmed vineyard. The wine is 100% pressed whole clusters and aged in a 600 Liter barrique of special thick staves to minimize oxygen transfer and there is no malolactic fermentation to preserve acidity, verve and length.

Tasting Notes
The wine reveals elegant aromas of exotic white flowers, citrus blossoms, lemongrass and peppery verbena, with hints of tropical fruit, melon and green almond. The rich and delicate tropical aromas are followed seamlessly from the nose by a fresh taste of pineapple, guava, lychee and waxy fruit giving the wine fantastic vivacity. The middle palette shows great minerality and finesse, with focused aromas of stone fruit and spicy kaffir lime, moving into a long razor sharp, Sancerre like finish of flint, granite river stones and grapefruit peel.

12.2% alc.  968 cases
Available $ 25.00 




Never Say Never Again...

Soliste - Chardonnay? It can't be...

Claude and I love to collaborate on our newsletters – but this once, I felt compelled to write you directly so I can openly share this tale:

For those that have not yet had the opportunity to meet Claude in person, well, he’s a force of nature. If you found yourself together with him and our sommelier friends, at a long dinner with endless wine, great food, and compelling conversation, you would stumble out, fuzzy, but definitely clear on a few things:

wine_drop Time to recuperate, reflect, and ask, “When is the next one!?”
wine_drop Claude is as generous sharing his opinions as he is sharing his cellar.
wine_drop His strongest, indelible, Gallic opinion, just bordering on religious fervor is that Cabernet is an evil weed and that Bordeaux/Napa Cabs are wines for trophy hunters. As he frequently says, “Bordeaux are for bankers and Burgundy is for poets.” You really have to be there to hear this rant and the depth of unwavering passion for his doctrine.
wine_drop Claude is completely and utterly infatuated with Burgundies. He wistfully recalls his youth at the table with old vignerons and his family and how much this has molded and shaped his life. With his eyes clouding over, I can hear him saying, “Just to think this small stretch of road in the center of rural France can arguably produce the greatest red (from one cépage, Pinot Noir) and the greatest white (from one cépage, Chardonnay) for centuries is just peerless – and the diversity and complexity between villages and vineyards just meters apart. Amazing!”
wine_drop To say that Claude is stubborn is an understatement. The Grand Canyon is a hole. The Sun is warm. Since the time we met and first talked about wine, he refuses to acknowledge that California makes Chardonnay, much less that we attempt. My ears ring with, “They are not wines, they are replacements for cocktails.” He boasts, “They are like buttery pop corns soaked in oak trees, it is a versatile beverage, the bartender can use for martinis when the vermouth is fini.” Without missing a beat he begins to name the wineries, but since this is where French and Japanese part, I am polite and will move on.
wine_drop We should make Chardonnay” I say. “Over my dead body,” he intones over and over again. If we can’t make it lean, elegant, with great acidity and balance, let’s not even try. “Come and try this Montrachet with me and let the urge pass,” he bribes me again…
wine_drop But time is the friend of wine and our tenacity. Our success with Sauvignon Blanc and especially with St Andelain weakened his resolute stance. We agreed to make Chardonnay together – Soliste style: A three-year commitment, a fabulous, well-established vineyard in the Russian River Valley, and trials with different vinification and aging including importing Nomblot concrete eggs from Burgundy, 600L thick stave barrels from Taransaud, 16 month aging… Let’s just say when we go in together, we go all in together – it’s an expensive experiment. We like to think of it as our own stimulus package.

Since you are good friends of Soliste, I wanted to share some of the background and insights to this journey. For anyone that truly understands wine and winemaking, it is temperamental (French influence, no doubt), tedious, and nerve-racking. It is so much like raising children – the highs, lows, worries, and ultimately, pride. And no two are alike, yet we love them all the same.

L’Age D’Or  
I wish you could have been there to seen the smile and Gallic smirk on Claude’s face when we tasted L’Age D’Or a few weeks ago. Up until this point, when we would check progress, let’s just say the cellar got colder, “See, I told you, Never.” It’s time to turn this back over to Claude, as you, know, he has an opinion:

2011 L'Age D'Or Label 2011 Soliste Chardonnay L'Age D'Or, Russian River Valley

The best surprises are when you expect them the least. A few weeks ago, when I opened a bottle of L’Age D’Or to see where it was, I also opened a bottle of Francois & Antoine Jobard, Meursault 1er cru Blagny. At Soliste, we have benchmarks to measure ourselves. L’Age D’Or had awakened, in a fashion that conjures all the finesse, minerality, elegance, and acidity that I was expecting from a white burgundy – but it also had this undeniable Russian River DNA, tart apple and quince with very faint vanilla fat in the middle palate. Whoaaaa…Never say never again.

Tasting Notes: Memories of Puligny Montrachet, Les Folatieres 

Le Regard / The Look
Crystalline purity of a Citrine gemstone, with golden depth of straw, highlighted by pale green tones.

Le Nez / The Nose
Aromas of flint and chiseled minerality, jumps right out of the glass, with secondary layers of a bouquet of white flowers, green apples and Mirabelle – Very focused and linear.

Degustation / The Taste
The palate is refined and tightly wound, with layers of tangerine, pear, white peach, acacia blossom, and white pepper that complement the round citrus and chalk aromas. The middle palate is deliciously floral, fine-boned and elegant, with layers of marzipan, yellow plums, and quince. This stretches out beautifully across the palate becoming minerally & citrus peel infused into a forcefully explosive finish that seems to go on and on.

Finesse, length, elegance, seduction…Soliste.

13.6% alc. 197 cases
Available  $ 50.00 


Sonatera 2010 Vintage, The Keystone of Soliste.
Memories Of Chambertin.


Where it all Began
Sonatera is one of those unique vineyard sites that truly exemplifies the Soliste philosophy and style. Sonatera is a family vineyard owned by Beth’s sister, Debbie and her husband Marne who have given us the very best through dedication and commitment to the land. The hilltop vineyard has three different exposures, facing north, south, and west. This geography funnels brisk marine winds over the vines reducing vigor, extending the ripening period of the grapes, and allowing distinctive aromatics to develop. Once you have tasted Sonatera Pinot Noir, you will always be able to identify its origins.

The 2010 vintage is an absolute benchmark of complexity – pure wild cherry aromatics, truffles and natural bright acidity. It is our commitment to produce a small number of cases of extraordinary pinots that exemplify their identity and sense of place – their Terroir – and there is no better example than Sonatera. In 2010, just as in 2009, we pushed this commitment much further, focusing on the single clone that would be in perfect harmony with the vineyard site, aging it in barrels from a single provenance. The results are simply stunning and magical. This is why we make Pinot Noir.

The intense and voluptuous 2010 Sonatera is the result of extreme attention to detail stemming from our vineyard management team’s rigorous practices, flawless harvest at Midnight, and our commitment to harness the purity and complexity of one clone from one vineyard. This is the Pinot Noir that launched Soliste and has unparalleled character that spells, “Sonatera.”

Sonatera 2010 embodies all the Complexity, Power, Depth and Soul of a great Gevrey Chambertin, layered with the unique fruit and spice aromatic of this one of a kind Sonoma vineyard site. This Pinot Noir will generate great emotion and deep conversation for years to come. A Classic.


2010 Sonatera Label 2010 Soliste Pinot Noir Sonatera Vineyard, Sonoma Coast

Tasting Notes 

Le Regard / The Look
Intense depth and luminosity of dark boysenberries showing density and structure, crushed black cherry robe, with pure reflections of amethyst gem.

Le Nez / The Nose
The nose starts wide, generous and darkly fruited, very sensual and exotic (dark cherries, spiced plums, blackberries), then slowly begins to envelop you while adding notes of cardamom, earthiness, truffles and black pepper. Layers of black tea, caramelized wild cherries and vanilla bean follow-typical to Sonatera. As the wine evolves in the glass or decanter, the aromatics become more virile and muscular with intense dark fruit, the always-present dark wild cherries, laced with oriental spices and cocoa nibs. A lingering aroma of black truffles and elegant toasted French oak accentuates the depth of the wine .

Degustation / The Taste
The palate delivers extraordinary texture and depth with layers of exotic spice and black tea, filling your mouth with an abundance of voluptuous dark fruit and complexity, matched only by the velvety, but dense texture. Sonatera is a spicy mouthful of wild cherry and plum compote, violets, licorice, exotic spices and earthy truffles (The power and charm of Gevrey Chambertain). The mid-palate is pure Sonatera, carrying on the black fruit (caramelized plums and cherries) with fatty vanilla and exotic black pepper. The tannins are extremely polished and well integrated to enhance the spice and herbal under-tones, which creates a sense of weight and fattiness. The finish is more reflective of the bright acidity found in red fruit such as raspberries, which bring in harmonious and refreshing aromatics of tart straw-berry rhubarb laced with coffee ground and cocoa nibs. Powerful elegance. Irresistible.

13.3% alc. 173 cases
By Allocation  $ 75.00 


Out of the Shadows Syrah: Beauty and the Beast

Northern Rhone comes to Sonoma

When Don & I visited the Northern Rhone in the cold winter of 2009 we tasted memorable Syrahs from the masters at la fête de la Côte Rôtie in Ampuis. Escorted by our friend and talented chef-owner of La Folie in San Francisco, Roland Passot, the afternoon became surreal when we were invited to Monsieur Guigal’s private cellar for a degustation we will not soon forget. It lasted hours but felt like just minutes.

Monsieur Guigal became a generous educator that day unveiling decades of wine making details and secrets to us; It was an epiphany and we certainly got a lesson on Syrah from masters of their craft, refining this superb cépage into powerful but elegant wines since Roman times. We took it all in and once back home went on our Soliste quest to seek an outstanding vineyard that would match what we had seen and learned in Ampuis. Our tenacious nature rewarded us when we came upon a stunning Syrah vineyard in Bennett Valley. Our first release of the 2008 vintage was an instant success aided by our commitment to age this superb Syrah for more than 22 months in barriques in the tradition of the Northern Rhone masters.

The 2009 vintage is absolutely spectacular – it certainly benefits from our experience of the 2008 vintage and also from a perfect growing season with long hang time to create refined aromatic of exotic depth. This Syrah is a muscular, powerful wine with trademark Soliste elegance, length and balance. It has the finesse of a great Côte Rôtie or Hermitage but the animal power of a Cornas. It will also have the ability to age for decades.

Out of the Shadows comes from a sliver of a vineyard in the Bennett Valley hills. The site has a western exposure, gravelly soil and sits on the side of a small mountain. This provides excellent drainage, even sun exposure, and a cool climate. The vineyard has a breathtaking view of the Santa Rosa plain and is meticulously farmed.


2008 Shadows Label 2009 Soliste Syrah Out of the Shadows, Bennett Valley

Tasting Notes:

Le Regard / The Look
Deep cassis with a dark garnet robe, a classic Syrah.

Le Nez / The Nose
Elegant aromatics of violets, cassis, blackberry and peppery wild plums (quetches) layered with licorice, bacon and high herbal pitch. As the wine evolves in the glass or decanter, the aromatics become more voluptuous, conveying a tremendous sense of power, superbly focused and complex adding coco nibs, espresso and fennel top.

Degustation / The Taste
Up front the wine is a muscular concentration of cassis, peppery plums and dark blackberries, reminiscent of a sun dried berry compote, interlaced with licorice, Balinese black pepper, black olive and fennel. This would be a Beast of a wine if the tannins had not been tamed by our commitment to age the wine for 22 months in large barrels. The middle palate becomes velvety, yet incredibly rich, laced with fatty vanilla and wet granite minerality. The smooth tannins linger with exotic spices and bitter chocolate and coffee beans. Phenomenal acidity and balance add to the wine liveliness and poise. The Finish is long, elegant, and effortless. It is a powerful caldron of tart cassis, caramelized blackberries, tobacco leaves and high herbal tones of rosemary, mint, eucalyptus creating length, complexity and finesse.

Out of the Shadows 2009 is a Powerful Beast tamed by Soliste’s commitment to craft elegant wines. Merci Monsieur Guigal for your generosity, passion and a day we will never forget.

14.1% alc.   223 cases
Available  $ 75.00 



Our wines are available under allocation by subscribing to our Mail List. Soliste is also available from our restaurant partners where it is best enjoyed with their extraordinary cuisine and good friends.

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