January 19, 2012: Solena Estates of Dundee, Oregon in the Willamette Valley

Welcoming Doug Cohen, National Sales Manager

Solena Estates was founded by Laurent and Danielle Montalieu in 2000, at which time they purchased the 80-acre estate, planted six premium clones of Pinot Noir grapes, and named the vineyard Domaine Danielle Laurent. While waiting for their estate vines to mature, the Montalieus purchased fruit from various Oregon vineyards and named their new label Solena after their daughter.

Laurent learned about wine from a very young age; his great-grandfather Joseph Montalieu, owned a vineyard in Medoc, Bordeaux. His interest in viticulture eventually landed Laurent in the Institute of Oenology of Bordeaux where he studied vineyard management and winemaking, and graduated in 1987. He worked for Chateau La Tour Blanche near Sauternes, Napa Valley’s Domaine Mumm, then Bridgeview Cellars in Oregon, before joining WillaKenzie Estate in 1995 as partner and winemaker. He left WillaKenzie in 2003 to focus on Solena Estates.

Danielle’s introduction to the wine business came at the age of ten when she started “working” at her family’s then small winery in Napa Valley, Pine Ridge. Over time she learned every aspect of the business, from production to sales and marketing. In 1996 Danielle returned to the Willamette Valley (she was born in Oregon) and started her family’s other winery in Dundee, Archery Summit. After six years at Archery Summit, she joined Laurent to pursue the dream of owning and operating their own winery.

Today Solena Estates makes Pinot Noir from Laurent and Danielle’s estate vineyards as well as Pinot Gris, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Late Harvest Riesling from select vineyard sites, mostly in Oregon and a small amount from Washington. For the tasting we will sample two vineyard-specific wines; Domaine Danielle Laurent Pinot Noir 2009 and Highland Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 as well as their Grande Cuvee Pinot Noir 2010 and Oregon Pinot Gris 2010.

Laurent is also winemaker and co-founder of Northwest Wine Company, a state-of-the-art winemaking facility in McMinnville, Oregon. Laurent produces Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from the Domaine Danielle Laurent Vineyard, wine from other prime sites throughout the Willamette Valley, as well as wine for small vineyard owners (1 to 200 acres) throughout Oregon and Washington. For the tasting we will sample two wines that are made at this facility as a private label for one of our distributors in Alabama- Fiddle Creek Pinot Gris 2010 and Pinot Noir 2009.

Tuscaloosa native Robert Moshier is the Director of Operations at Northwest Wine Co. When I attended Oregon Pinot Camp three years ago I had the opportunity to meet-up with Robert at Northwest Wine Co., tour the facility, and sample wine from numerous barrels- it was an extremely educational and memorable experience! Robert will be in town soon and we have plans for a Thursday night tasting- we will keep you posted.

This week’s tasting will feature two Pinot Gris and four Pinot Noirs- plus we are pleased to welcome Doug Cohen, the National Sales Manager for Solena Estates– it should be very informative and very interesting. We hope you will join us!

The specific wines for the tasting are:

Solena Pinot Gris 2010– Oregon. A blend of 91% Pinot Gris, 5% Gewurztraminer, and 4% Pinot Blanc. Sourced from several premium vineyard sites including some in AVA’s such as the Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, McMinnville, and Yamhill-Carlton. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation was not allowed. Aromas of pear, peach, and apple are complemented with floral and herb hints. It is lively, with refreshing acid on the palate, and flavors of honey and apricot and underlying minerality. A complex, classic, and food-friendly wine. 1500 cases made. Produced at Northwest Wine Co. 89 Wine Spectator. Tasting $17.99

Solena Pinot Noir Grande Cuvee 2010– Willamette Valley. 100% Pinot Noir sourced from premium vineyard sites from such AVAs as Eola-Amity Hills and Yamhill-Carlton. Grapes from each vineyard fermented in small lots; malolactic fermentation took place over 5 months, then the wine aged for 10 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. Scents of red cherry and raspberry and notes of cinnamon spice are followed by a viscous palate bursting with bright fruits, spice, and oak undertones. It is a fresh and vibrant Pinot Noir with nice balance of tannins, fruit, and acid. 3500 cases made. Tasting $21.99

Solena Domaine Danielle Laurent Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009– Yamhill-Carlton District (the vineyard is biodynamically farmed and Demeter-certified). 100% Pinot Noir that fermented in small lots allowing control over the final blend; malolactic fermentation took place over 7 months, then the wine aged in French oak barrels (approx. 50% new) for 11 months. An inviting nose of cinnamon, clove, and vanilla spice, and perfumed red berry fruits are complemented by a complex, concentrated wine with enough structure to age very nicely in the cellar. Approximately 570 cases made. 91 Wine Advocate. Tasting $39.99

Solena Hyland Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010– McMinnville. The Hyland Vineyard was planted in the 1970’s and purchased by the Montelieus and their business partners in May 2007. 100% Pinot Noir; malolactic fermentation occurred over 5 months then the wine aged for 10 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. It is intensely flavored with bright scents of black and red fruits and hints of citrus and anise. On the palate it is very fruity up-front with juicy red cherry, ripe strawberry, and blackberry fruit and a finish of licorice and spice. A wine of character with outstanding structure and beautiful aging potential. 350 cases made. Tasting $44.99 (will be available for pre-sell ONLY at this time)

Fiddle Creek Pinot Gris 2010– Willamette Valley. An Alsatian-style Piont Gris with aromas of green apple, lemongrass, grapefruit and pear. It offers great balance, substance, and weight with appealing acidity and a long, vibrant finish. Tasting $11.99

Fiddle Creek Pinot Noir 2009– Willamette Valley. It’s traditional, Burgundian-style nose displays ripe strawberries and notes of rose petals. The palate starts-off with flavors of bright cherry preserves and hints of red plums, followed by notes of spice and earthy-hints. It is nicely balanced with acid and tannins; altogether a complex wine of value that is easily approachable. Tasting $14.99

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