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Soliste Wines of Sonoma Coast in California: A Twist of Fate

A wonderful surprise in the wine game is serendipity. The people you meet along the way makes the journey as exciting as tasting the next vintage. And as fate had it, we had the pleasure of technology and wine worlds colliding by meeting with Donald Plumley, co-owner of Soliste Wines from Sonoma County, California.

The Sonoma Coast is a California wine-growing region that spans between the Pacific Ocean Coast and the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. It is a beautiful part of the world.

In Burgundy, France, a “Soliste,” is a special barrel kept by a winemaker for friends and family. As the Soliste Pinot Noir wines are often produced from just one or two barrels, the name is very apt. Claude, the winemaker and co-owner of Soliste Wines grew up in Burgundy, and after training with Paul Bocuse and Alain Chapel, became the youngest Michelin 3-star chef in Paris at La Vivarois.

In the US, Claude was the executive chef at L’Orangerie, and Le Cirque 2000. A James Beard Award winning Master Chef, Claude is recently retired from the specialty food products company he founded and is among the most knowledgeable Burgundy lovers in the world. Soliste is probably the only winery with a 3-Star Chef winemaker, and a favorite of Sommeliers and is found on the wine lists of some truly exceptional restaurants today.

The four MonoClone® Pinot Noirs produced since the 2010 vintage are sourced from Sonatera Vineyard, Keller Estate (located in the Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma Coast), and Guidici Vineyard (located near Occidental), all in the Sonoma Coast appellation.

The Forêt is 100% Clone 23 (Mariafeld) and the L’Ambroise 100% clone “828” are sourced from the Guidici Vineyard. The L’Espérance is 100% clone 115 and Sonatera is 100% clone “777” sourced from Sonatera Vineyard, and the Nouveau Monde is 100% Pommard clone from Keller Estate. It is of interest to discuss each wine individually.

Traditional vineyard designate Pinot Noir is a combination off all the clones from a site to maximize production. In the New World, Single clone Pinot Noir was once criticized as lacking in some component such that it is not a complete wine. Claude and Don both disagree, and argue that it comes down to matching the site with the specific clone and indeed, the precise cooperage (barrel). Their pursuit to craft wines that honor their Burgundian benchmarks (historically also from single clones) is relentless and reflects a deep partnership rooted in old-world traditions.

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