I first found out about Soléna Estate wines from my blogger friend Ryan Reichert, (@oenoblog)when he moved to Oregon to start his new career in the wine industry. Through Ryan, I was introduced to Lynnette Shaw, the tasting room manager at Soléna. When Lynnette was in San Francisco for the Chronicle Wine Competition Grand Tasting, we got to talking about all things social media and how Twitter, Facebook, and blogging can increase exposure to your brand and introduce your wines to new audiences. I’ve talked a lot about changing perceptions and increasing your market share through exposure, and this was another opportunity for me to share my passion for new media.
Fortunately for me, Lynnette left me with samples of Soléna’s current releases to sample and share, and knowing that I was a pinotphile (thanks Ryan!) I was excited to explore a bit of Oregon. Being a California girl, with some much world class wine available at the source an hour away from my house, I find myself occasionally getting stuck – although I am not complaining about my love of the Cellar Rat, Cartograph, Holdredge, and MacPhail, in the well trodden track between my house and Sonoma County. I suppose stuck isnt’ exactly the right word, since i don’t really find myself that motivated to climb out of the so called ditch, but exploring other regions reignites my passion for wine, and allows me to refresh my palate with new wines.
Soléna’s Estate was started by Laurent Montalieu and Danielle Andrus-Montalieu, and the name is derived from the French word Solene, and the Spanish Solana, for the sun & moon. the first vintage was the 2003 Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, from Domaine Danielle Laurent vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton appellation. Low yields in the source vineyards and various vineyard techniques including biodynamics produce high quality fruit and some amazing wines of distinction.
2007 Pinot Noir – Hyland Vineyard – Some funk on nose, which I expected from Oregon, with rose petals, lots of mushrooms, forest floor and wet river rock. What I didn’t expect was that this was a BIG pinot, with dark ripe raspberry, blueberry, baking spice, and a touch of jalepeno. While it did seem a touch hot to me, I did really enjoy this wine. If you should find it, BUY it. It is a great example of an unfined and unfiltered pinot from a different region.
2008 Grand Cuvee Pinot Noir – is the entry level Pinot from Soléna, and can be found more readily in major markets. Once again, I found lots of forest floor and mushroom, but this blend had more ripe cherry, red berry, and rhubarb flavors followed by cranberry and strawberry. This has the softest body, and a plush finish. The Cuvee is a blend made from a selection of grapes from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and the blending process allows the winemaker to select the best of each vineyard to create a masterpiece. It’s a bit like a full symphony versus a single stanza, and while it was indicative of Oregon, I found it very much like a Russian River pinot in the cherry berry cola flavor profile. This wine retails for $25, and is a MUST BUY for the high QPR.
The final Pinot Noir that I tasted from Soléna was teh 2006 Domaine Danielle Laurent. With a small production of 573 caes, this single vineyard designate from Yamhill-Carlton has black cherries and clove, which you immediately feel on the tip of your tongue. This wine cries for food, and the dark earth and spice would be perfect for a pork roast or brown sugar glazed salmon. At $45, it’s a splurge but worth it if you are exploring the Oregon pinot regions.
I enjoyed my meander through the Oregon wine country, and I suggest anyone who is a Pinot Prince or Princess to do the same. I am guilty of being blinded by the amazing wines right in front of me in Russian River, carneros, and Anderson valley, and I forget that slightly farther to the north, there is a world class region waiting to be explored. For this California palate, I was a bit wary of breaking the glass door between California and Oregon, since in the past I have been less than enthused with some examples, but I am happy to report that my taste buds have grown up and gone to Pinot heaven.
Special thanks to Lynnette Shaw and Soléna Estates for providing this samples and being a great dinner companiona s I rambled on about social media and the wine writing revolution!