Soliste

Based in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, Soliste is probably the best winery you’ve never heard of. Production is microscopic, and nearly every bottle is spoken for by the USA’s top sommeliers.

The wines are championed by the USA’s most prestigious Michelin-starred restaurants, appearing on the top wine lists, including The French Laundry (3*, Napa), Single Thread Farms (3*, Healdsburg), Benu (3*, San Francisco), Per Se (3*, New York), Le Bernardin (3*, New York), and Eleven Madison Park (3*, New York).

Story

Soliste is the joint venture born of a chance encounter between Claude Koeberle, a three Michelin-starred chef from Burgundy, and Donald Plumley, a businessman and entrepreneur.

Claude, the son of famed pastry chef Paul Koeberle, grew up in Burgundy rubbing shoulders with the like of  family friend Henri Jayer, before beginning his apprenticeship under the late, great Paul Bocuse. He went on to continue his training under 3* Alain Chapel before becoming the youngest 3* chef in Paris at La Vivarois. Claude moved to New York City (Le Cirque 2000) and ultimately to Southern California where he met his wife and fellow chef, Elisabeth.

Don Plumley is a native of Southern California, where he graduated from UC Davis, then UCLA with an MBA, his eyes firmly on a career on international business. A global job for a translation company allowed him to travel to all corners of the globe and more than familiarise himself with the wine lists of the World’s greatest restaurants.

Don had an opportunity to direct a manufacturing company in Petaluma (Sonoma). In a stroke of fate, they settled in Irving near to his wife Beth’s sister who, together with her husband, founded Sonatera Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA. It was here where their dog, Chip, became friends with the neighbour’s dog, Gabby. The neighbours were none other than Don and Beth, and they quickly became close friends, sharing their love of great food and wine.​

Don took a bottle of wine from Sontera Vineyard to share with Claude, who saw great potential. Fate again intervened and a block in the vineyard was available which meant a chance for them to make wine their own way, with a serious nod to Claude’s native Burgundy. Thus, Soliste Cellars was born. They produced a mere 140 of Sonatera Vineyard Pinot Noir in 2005, really intended for friends and family but it became a sensation among the local sommeliers and was snapped up by restaurants.

From 2007 production was slowly increased. The goals at Soliste soon became clearly defined and characterised by focus and conviction. There would be no compromise in quality with all farming and winemaking decisions based on what went into the bottle above financial considerations​

As well as continuing to build on Soliste’s enviable rollcall of restaurant listings, they have seen a continued increase in demand from private collectors and connoisseurs who have experienced and fallen in love with Claude and Don’s stunning portfolio of Sonoma gems.

Vineyards

Soliste’s inspiration lies firmly in the great Domains of Burgundy, erring towards elegance and refinement while capturing the Californian sunshine. Claude and Don’s fanatical commitment to quality reaches its ultimate expression in the MonoClone® Pinot Noir program launched with the 2009 vintage. The belief at Soliste was that blending clones, different vineyards, and various cooperages homogenized the aromas and flavours of Pinot Noir. Instead, all Soliste Pinot Noirs consist of a single clone from within a single vineyard site, and then aged in a single cooperage. This offers the ultimate snapshot of place and time – rare even at Burgundy’s Grand Crus.

In Sonoma, they work with a line-up of exceptional vineyards sites through Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, as far west as Occidental. For their astonishing St. Andelain Sauvignon Blanc, fruit is sourced from the mountainous Lake County AVA, about one hours drive north (and up!) from Napa Valley.

Winemaking

Claude eschews the title winemaker, referring to himself as a ‘vigneron’, but this belies the work he does in the cellar of their shared facility in Santa Rosa. Here, alongside a handful of similarly minded, small volume but exceptional quality producers, Claude and Don work tirelessly to craft barrels of elixir destined for the most discerning wine lists and cellars. They keep the wines cellared for many years once bottled, knowing they will be released and enjoyed in their prime.

Latest arrivals from Soliste

2016 Soliste, Forêt Pinot Noir, Sonoma County 1x75cl

Blend: 100% Pinot Noir Vintage Production: 193 cases Forêt comes from a magnificent secluded vineyard near Occidental. The hillside vineyard has a northeastern exposure, a very steep slope, and is... in the middle of a spectacular redwood forest. Just 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean on the western coastal range, is perhaps the most visually stunning vineyard which Soliste uses – the depth of aromatics and spice in Forêt are a pure reflection of this truly unique vineyard’s site, slope, climate, and clone. Don Plumley & Claude Koeberle: "Deep hues of dark plums, cassis, boysenberries with brilliant amethyst gemstone, showing specs of skin pulp and minerals, which denotes whole cluster press extraction. Forêt’s alluring nose is a complex bouquet of blackcurrants, graphite mineral, black pepper, plums, Bing cherries, interlaced redwood pine needles. As the wines open up, profound aromas of dark fruit compote, licorice, spiked with Alpine forest smells, burnt orange peel, elevate the wine to an Amaro like infusion. Decanting is a must for this wine to appreciate all of its subtilities. The front palate is exceptionally voluptuous and textural, with pure concentration of blackberries, dark cherries, boysenberries, and candied violets, all lifted by dried herbal and evergreen forest. The mid-palate possesses an immensely concentrated core of dark fruit compote, framed by the rich structuring tannins created by our commitment to the whole cluster press. As the wine opens up, the luscious, exotic dark fruit elixir is layered with pulpy tannins adding earthy tones, gaminess, exotic spices, mint, and black pepper, all in perfect harmony. The finish is impressive in its length, focus and complexity. The whole clusters are definitely present, chewy, grippy, pulling the richness of the fruit into an aristocratic elegance. Bright acidity of red tart cherries, cranberry, and violet, infused with wet stone minerals lift the mid-palate fruit density, elongating the wine into a perpetual finish."
£66 / BottleDuty Status: In Bond ⋅ Price incl. of Duty & VAT: £82.40 / BottleAvailability: Immediate ⋅ ETA to UK address: 2-4 days

2016 Soliste, Forêt Pinot Noir, Sonoma County 12x75cl

Blend: 100% Pinot Noir Vintage Production: 193 cases Forêt comes from a magnificent secluded vineyard near Occidental. The hillside vineyard has a northeastern exposure, a very steep slope, and is... in the middle of a spectacular redwood forest. Just 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean on the western coastal range, is perhaps the most visually stunning vineyard which Soliste uses – the depth of aromatics and spice in Forêt are a pure reflection of this truly unique vineyard’s site, slope, climate, and clone. Don Plumley & Claude Koeberle: "Deep hues of dark plums, cassis, boysenberries with brilliant amethyst gemstone, showing specs of skin pulp and minerals, which denotes whole cluster press extraction. Forêt’s alluring nose is a complex bouquet of blackcurrants, graphite mineral, black pepper, plums, Bing cherries, interlaced redwood pine needles. As the wines open up, profound aromas of dark fruit compote, licorice, spiked with Alpine forest smells, burnt orange peel, elevate the wine to an Amaro like infusion. Decanting is a must for this wine to appreciate all of its subtilities. The front palate is exceptionally voluptuous and textural, with pure concentration of blackberries, dark cherries, boysenberries, and candied violets, all lifted by dried herbal and evergreen forest. The mid-palate possesses an immensely concentrated core of dark fruit compote, framed by the rich structuring tannins created by our commitment to the whole cluster press. As the wine opens up, the luscious, exotic dark fruit elixir is layered with pulpy tannins adding earthy tones, gaminess, exotic spices, mint, and black pepper, all in perfect harmony. The finish is impressive in its length, focus and complexity. The whole clusters are definitely present, chewy, grippy, pulling the richness of the fruit into an aristocratic elegance. Bright acidity of red tart cherries, cranberry, and violet, infused with wet stone minerals lift the mid-palate fruit density, elongating the wine into a perpetual finish."
£770 / Case£64.17 / BottleDuty Status: In Bond ⋅ Price incl. of Duty & VAT: £962.45 / Case, £80.20 / BottleAvailability: Immediate ⋅ ETA to UK address: 2-4 days

2015 Soliste, L’Age D’Or Chardonnay, Russian River Valley 1x75cl

Blend: 100% Chardonnay Vintage production: 417 cases L’Age D’Or comes from a vineyard just north of Sebastopol adjacent to the Laguna de Santa Rosa, the largest tributary of the Russian River.... Originally planted in 1971, these are among the oldest Chardonnay vines in the Russian River Valley. The vineyard is immaculately and sustainably managed. Having white Burgundies as benchmarks, especially the wines of Raveneau, Jobard and Coche-Dury, Don and Claude were never to anxious to even attempt to craft Chardonnay in the new world as they had always felt that the wines were sometimes over the top with buttery pop corn mouth feel, way too much oak, high alcohol and clunky. Their success with Sauvignon Blanc, and especially with St. Andelain, convinced them to begin a three year commitment with a fabulous, well-established vineyard in the Russian River Valley. Their willingness to experiment with different vinification as well as aging for 16 months in 600L thick stave barrels (44% new) results in a Chardonnay of great elegance, length and verve; very Meursault-like.
£43 / BottleDuty Status: In Bond ⋅ Price incl. of Duty & VAT: £54.80 / BottleAvailability: Immediate ⋅ ETA to UK address: 2-4 days

2015 Soliste, L’Age D’Or Chardonnay, Russian River Valley 12x75cl

Blend: 100% Chardonnay Vintage production: 417 cases L’Age D’Or comes from a vineyard just north of Sebastopol adjacent to the Laguna de Santa Rosa, the largest tributary of the Russian River.... Originally planted in 1971, these are among the oldest Chardonnay vines in the Russian River Valley. The vineyard is immaculately and sustainably managed. Having white Burgundies as benchmarks, especially the wines of Raveneau, Jobard and Coche-Dury, Don and Claude were never to anxious to even attempt to craft Chardonnay in the new world as they had always felt that the wines were sometimes over the top with buttery pop corn mouth feel, way too much oak, high alcohol and clunky. Their success with Sauvignon Blanc, and especially with St. Andelain, convinced them to begin a three year commitment with a fabulous, well-established vineyard in the Russian River Valley. Their willingness to experiment with different vinification as well as aging for 16 months in 600L thick stave barrels (44% new) results in a Chardonnay of great elegance, length and verve; very Meursault-like.
£495 / Case£41.25 / BottleDuty Status: In Bond ⋅ Price incl. of Duty & VAT: £632.45 / Case, £52.70 / BottleAvailability: Immediate ⋅ ETA to UK address: 2-4 days