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Soléna

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Soléna is a combination of two names that mean the sun and the moon. For Danielle and Laurent, Soléna represents the celebration of life as this is the name they gave to their daughter, after her somewhat early, miraculous birth. Their Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and upcoming Syrah were made to be enjoyed with family and friends during life’s victories both big and small.

Danielle Andrus Montalieu

With more than a decade of experience in the wine industry, Danielle Andrus Montalieu has left Archery Summit winery to start her own wine label with her husband, Laurent Montalieu and daughter Soléna.

“After the birth of Soléna, I realized that I wanted to get back to the basics.” The basics for her include spending more time with her family, making a small amount of high quality wine, and returning to a time when life was simpler.

Danielle’s father, Gary Andrus, started Pine Ridge Winery when she was ten. “The winery was actually a small cellar under a two bedroom farm house,” she reminisces.

During her early years, Danielle worked in the administration, the cellar, and the hospitality departments of Pine Ridge Winery. While in college she continued her wine education by working in retail wine stores, and as a wine steward for a small restaurant. During this time Pine Ridge winery grew to a 100,000 case winery. This success allowed Nancy Andrus, Gary Andrus, and their new partners, Leucadia, to create an additional winery in Oregon, Archery Summit.

“Moving to Oregon was the logical choice for me,” the native Oregonian states. “Oregon’s wine community is exciting and youthful. It was almost like returning to the time when Pine Ridge was first being created.”

Archery Summit Winery provided her with a wonderful education, but when her father retired, she knew it was time to leave. “Developing Archery Summit Winery with my father was a great joy for me, one I will always cherish.”

After six years at Archery Summit Winery, Danielle continues in her pursuit of developing a small family operated winery and vineyard, and in educating the trade and consumers about the Oregon wine industry. As a founding board member of Oregon Pinot Camp, Danielle has endeavored to familiarize the wine trade with Oregon wines. She remains active in consumer organizations like Salud, which raises money for the vineyard workers health care, and the International Pinot Noir Celebration.

With eighty acres, Danielle and Laurent have their work cut out for them. Yet their ideology puts quality of life higher than producing large quantities of wine. They anticipate only planting about twenty of the eighty acres, and leaving the rest in its natural beauty.

“Moving up to our property this past October was so exciting. From our window we see our new vineyard and the place where Laurent and I were married.”

The property holds special meaning for the couple, and they look forward to raising Soléna in this environment. “In a way, life has become a full circle for me,” Danielle smiles.

Laurent Montalieu

Laurent Montalieu took his first steps in a vineyard in Medoc owned by his great grandfather, Pierre Joseph Montalieu. He grew up on the Caribbean island of
Guadeloupe, but spent summers in his family’s homeland of Bordeaux, where he learned to grow grapes and drink wine. Laurent returned to Bordeaux in 1980 to attend high school.

With a renewed interest in wine, he immersed himself in studies of vineyard management and winemaking. Upon his graduation in 1987 from the Institute of Oenology of Bordeaux, he worked for Chateau La Tour Blanche near Sauternes, France and Domaine Mumm in California before moving to Oregon.

After seven successful vintages at Bridgeview Vineyards in Cave Junction, Oregon, Laurent joined WillaKenzie Estates. Laurent, as a partner and winemaker, shared Bernard and Ronnie Lacroute’s commitment to top quality in the vineyard and winery with a philosophy of minimal intervention in the production of handcrafted wines.

Laurent is passionate about Pinot Noir and other varietals he creates as winemaker at WillaKenzie Estates, but as an artist he is always looking to continue creating wines from other varietals. Indulging in his art, Laurent first created a private label called La Merleausine, an experiment in blending Merlot and Zinfandel. Laurent enjoyed making small quantities of this wine, but wanted to focus on the purity of the varietals. With this ideology in mind, he broadened his focus to include Cabernet and Syrah. Thus the four varietals of the new label, Soléna, were determined, and his business relationship with Danielle, his wife, was created.

As if Laurent was not active enough in his winemaking career, private label, and commitments to the Oregon wine community, he and Danielle have taken on another new venture: developing their own Pinot Noir vineyard. When asked how he was able to manage so many different activities, he replied, “Creating and watching things grow gives me great pleasure. I think if you love what you do, finding time to do it is not a problem.” With a young daughter, new label, and a budding vineyard, Laurent is enjoying the fullness of his life!

The Wines
Reviews by
Cole Danehower,
Oregon Wine Report

Soléna 1999 Zinfandel,
Wooldridge Creek Vineyard,
Applegate Valley
Summary: Deep and inky purple red color. Great earthy, herby aromas with hints of plump blackcurrant fruit framed against a soft wood background. As the wine is swirled, a very appealing sweet mint and oaky vanilla aroma arises. In the mouth the wine is very smoothly textured, with a soft and elegant feel. Flavors are robust and rich with plenty of dark plum, currant, and black cherry fruit, accented by black pepper and a hint of cinnamon. The fruit is backed by a sturdy structure of wood and tannin, with a pleasing balance of acidity.

Comments: Laurent Montelieu is one of the few Willamette Valley winemakers with extensive experience making wine from Southern Oregon fruit, and it shows well in this wine. This is a tasty and sturdy Zinfandel that-as Danielle Montelieu said to me, would make a great "pizza picnic" wine! Oregon Zinfandel is a bit of a rarity, and this is by far the finest I have yet had. The fruit comes from Wooldridge Creek Vineyard in the Applegate Valley, one of the prettiest vineyards in Oregon, and a warm site that gently rises up the slope of a picturesque mountain valley. While the Solena Zinfandel is great for current consumption, and while Zinfandel generally isn't a great wine for ageing, I think the structure and tannin in this wine ensure a good 3-5 years of great sipping!

 

 

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