Dark red with purple hues, the 2011 Grand Cuvee is bright and vibrant with a nose of sweet raspberries, bakers chocolate, violets and tea leaves. It is broad and soft across the palate with great lenth from the balance of tannis and acidity. Flavors of coconut, plum, leather and cherry cola linger on the palate. Its depth and liveliness gives the wine that can be enjoyed now or cellared for many years to come.
Solena Estate Winery
After successful careers in the Oregon wine industry, the husband and wife team of Laurent Montalieu and Danielle Andrus Montalieu has created an exciting new family operated winery, Soléna Cellars. Soléna is the combination of the Spanish and French words "Solana" and "Solene" celebrating the sun and the moon, and the name that Laurent and Danielle, gave to their daughter.
Soléna Cellars began as a way to explore winemaking with other varietals grown in neighboring appellations while the family's young Domaine Danielle Laurent vineyard matured. Today Laurent and Danielle are producing Pinot Noir from their exciting estate vineyard in Oregon's Yamhill-Carlton appellation as well as Pinot Gris, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from select sites throughout Oregon and Washington.
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Named for the river that runs through the valley from Portland to Eugene, Willamette Valley is home to some of the best Pinot Noir vineyards in the Northwest. While along the same north/south line as Seattle, the Willamette Valley is protected from Pacific rains by the Coast Range on the western border and the Cascade Ranges to the east. Though sunshine is typically plentiful, rainfall can occasionally be tricky, and the wines here vary vintage to vintage. Within the Willamette Valley are are number of sub-regions, including McMinnville, Dundee and Yamhill.
The valley is known for its Pinots – Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. With a climate similar to Burgundy – in rainfall, sunlight hours and other climate factors – Pinot Noir has flourished here. Pinot Noir in Oregon produces wines that are fruit forward, yet complex, some with good agebility.
Other than Pinot Noir, many wineries grow Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Pinot Gris from Oregon is delightful in its texture and food friendliness. Chardonnay in the valley adapts well to the cool climate and produces lean, elegant wines.
Oregon has long been an agricultural state, producing everything from hazelnuts to cattle. The Willamette Valley in particular is a fertile basin for all sorts of produce. Not quite pegged as a wine state, in 1965, a UC Davis graduate named David Lett decided that the Willamette's climate mirrored that of Burgundy in France. With that in mind, he decided to plant some Pinot Noir clones to see how they did. And a good gamble it was. The Willamette is now one of the only regions in the world to focus solely on Pinot Noir as its red variety. Also known for Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The southern part of Oregon has been slower in delving into the world wine market, but has been making excellent strides with their Rhone style varietals, like Syrah and Grenache. There are also coastal regions producing promising wines.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.