Sol Rouge is a 70-acre family estate vineyard and winery located in the Mayacama Mountains of Lake County, California just north of Napa Valley. it is situated at elevations of over 1800 feet in the foothills of a dormant volcano in the Red Hills AVA. The soils in this region are rich red and volcanic. The is estate planted to Syrah, Grenache and other Rhone varieties as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and other Bordeaux varieties. The vineyard is situated on hillside slopes and has high density plantings of vines with as much as 6,000 vines per hectare in some blocks. Sol Rouge also sources fruit from other California vineyards, although the wines reviewed here are virtually all from Lake County. They are also made in small quantities.
The winemaker at Sol Rouge is Brian Kane (pictured left). Brian subscribes to natural and non-interventionist winemaking techniques in the vineyard and the winery which he developed in studies at UC Davis and through experience making wine at Siduri, Roessler and other top California wineries. Brian also follows a 24-hour fermentation management program for his wines. The program involves varying the temperature and cap management procedure on a 3-4 hour time basis at various stages of the fermentation process. It is a process which he claims contributes to the color and structure of the wine without the need for external additives.
We have tasted some of the Sol Rouge wines previously for IWR’s in-depth reports on Syrah and Grenache, but this is the first time we have tasted a portfolio of new releases. We enjoyed the wines, both whites and reds. The Viognier, Gypsy Rouge, the Cabernet Franc, and the Cabernet Sauvignon were especially noteworthy.
Sol Rouge 2012 Viognier Lake County ($32) 90 This Viognier is fresh tasting and crisp with a creamy mouth feel and a hit of toast. It has good balance with brisk acidity on the palate and flavors of ripe stone fruit. Aged 10 months in neutral oak. Sol Rouge 2012 Gypsy Blanc Lake County ($28) 88 The Gypsy Blanc is a pleasant tasting blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. It has pleasant floral aromas with a hint of jasmine. It is ripe and crisp on the plate with delicate flavors, a creamy moth feel and a long finish. Sol Rouge 2011 Gypsy Rouge Red Hills, Lake County ($28) 89 The Grenache-based Gypsy Rouge blend exhibits a light ruby color with floral notes. These are followed by ripe and earthy red berry fruit on the palate. It has a soft texture and full mouth feel with good acidity on the mid-palate, round tannins and a long finish. Aged 18 months in barrel. Sol Rouge 2010 Cabernet Franc Lake County ($32) 91 The 2010 Cabernet Franc is richly flavored with lots of black cherry fruit, black currants and graphite. It is full bodied with a soft texture and ripe mouth feel. Dense, earthy and richly flavored, it is a wine that needs time in the bottle to provide maximum drinking pleasure. Sol Rouge 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County ($32) 88 The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County has big and bold flavors with lots of black cherry fruit, graphite and earth notes with a creamy mouth feel. It is still young with big firm tannins and a rather firm finish. Sol Rouge 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($75) 90 The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley displays black currant and cassis fruit with a soft attack, elegant mouth feel, and ripe polished tannins. It is richer and more approachable than the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County. Sol Rouge 2011 Mourvedre Red Hills, Lake County ($29) 89 The 2011 Mourvedre offers aromas of black and red fruit that are mirrored on the palate. It has nice weight with good intensity of red cranberry flavors and hints of underbrush with a long finish. Aged 16 months in neutral French oak. Sol Rouge 2011 Petite Sirah Lake County ($32) 88+ The Petite Sirah displays ripe aromas of dark plum that are mirrored on the palate. It has love velvet texture, good concentration, and firm round tannins with lots of extract. It should drink well from 2016 for seven to nine years. Sol Rouge 2011 Syrah Red Hills, Lake County ($32) 88 The 2011 Syrah exhibits a lovely dark ruby purple color and is rich and lush on the palate with dark blackberry fruit and hints of forest floor, mushrooms, earth and minerals. It has good concentration on the palate with high acidity and a crisp finish. Sol Rouge 2011 Zinfandel Red Hills, Lake County ($28) 89 Ripe black cherry on the nose with earthy highlights jump from the glass of this delicious Zinfandel. It has a soft texture, black berry fruit on the palate, good density of flavor and a big tannic finish.