Domaine de la Solitude, A Tapestry of Tradition and Terroir.
In the sun-kissed embrace of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, Domaine de la Solitude stands as a custodian of time-honored traditions, crafting wines that mirror the essence of the land and celebrate the history that precedes them. With origins tracing back to the 15th century, this illustrious estate weaves together the threads of history, terroir, and innovation into each bottle of wine it produces.
Domaine de la Solitude is no stranger to us, as we interviewed them earlier in our talk show Cellar Talks (click to watch), and we have reviewed some of their iconic wines before. Recently Dutch importer Jean Arnaud granted us the opportunity to sit down again with the owner, Florent Lancon, and enjoy some of their most special wines over a winemaker dinner at Restaurant Soigné.
A Legacy Rooted in Solitude
The estate’s name, Domaine de la Solitude, pays homage to the tranquility and seclusion that have been its companions for centuries. Since 1635, the land has nurtured vines, and through the centuries, it has evolved into the esteemed winery we recognize today. This legacy of grape cultivation encapsulates the essence of the region and is deeply ingrained in the estate’s identity.
Domaine de la Solitude’s vineyards, spanning approximately 38 hectares, are the heart of its winemaking journey. Set against the backdrop of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s remarkable landscape, these vineyards enjoy a marriage of rocky soils, varying elevations, and the Mediterranean sun. This unique combination imparts distinct character and complexity to the grapes, resulting in wines that artfully convey the essence of the terroir.
At Domaine de la Solitude, winemaking is an intricate dance between preserving tradition and embracing innovation. With an unwavering commitment to quality, the estate’s winemakers meticulously cultivate and hand-select the grapes, ensuring that only the finest fruit finds its way to the cellar. The fusion of age-old techniques with modern technology in the winery allows for a delicate and precise winemaking process that respects the integrity of the grapes.
Embracing the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Identity
The estate’s portfolio of wines reflects a symphony of flavors, each composition encapsulating the harmony of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s iconic grape varietals. From the bold red blends that intertwine Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, to the nuanced white wines that weave together Clairette and Roussanne, each bottle embodies the essence of the region. These wines are celebrated for their equilibrium, depth, and remarkable ability to evolve gracefully over time, a testament to the expertise of Domaine de la Solitude.
Domaine de la Solitude stands as an emblem of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape identity. With every sip, wine enthusiasts embark on a sensory journey through the terroir, history, and dedication that define this appellation. Domaine de la Solitude is not solely a winery; it is a collection of stories, created by generations in past and present time. Together this creates wines that transcend time.
A Selection of Wines
During our dinner with Florent Lancon we were lucky enough to enjoy some of the Domain’s best wines. Typical Southern Rhône expressions, rare bottles, magnums and old vintages were shared across the table at Restaurant Soigné.
Throughout the evening Florent was the perfect ambassador of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation and his family’s magnificent Domaine, sharing stories with us and describing his wines and vineyards. All of this was accompanied by a well prepared six course dinner.
Our evening started with the aperitif wine, the 2022 Côtes du Rhône Blanc.
- Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2022 – La Solitude
- Clarette, Viognier and Grenache Blanc
- A.O.C. Côtes du Rhône
From the moment the cork is released, a delicate bouquet of floral notes greets the senses, reminiscent of the blossoming vineyards that bring fruit to this wine. On the palate, a symphony of flavors unfolds—ripe citrus fruits dance alongside subtle hints of white peach, creating a medley that is both vibrant and inviting.
What sets this Côtes du Rhône Blanc apart is its impeccable balance. The acidity is well-integrated, lending a crispness that elevates the fruit-forward profile. As the wine lingers, a gentle minerality surfaces, weaving a thread of complexity that ties the experience together. The finish is remarkably smooth, leaving a lasting impression that encourages another contemplative sip.
We award this 2022 Côtes du Rhône with a 90-point DWA score.
The first course served consisted of: Tuna|Ponzu marshmallow | Sushi rice | Sweet sour Radish | Wakame gel | Sesame dressing. This was accompanied by a 2022 Magnum bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Blanc.
- Magnum Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Blanc 2022
- Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Rousanne, Bourboulenc and Picpoul
- A.O.C. Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Upon the first pour, the wine’s luminous hue hints at the brilliance it holds within. The aroma is an intricate tapestry of white blossoms, zesty citrus, and a whisper of stone fruit, painting a vivid picture of the vineyards’ sun-drenched landscape.
The palate is a journey through layers of flavors that seamlessly intertwine. Juicy pear and ripe green apple take the lead, accompanied by subtle nuances of tropical fruit that offer a delightful twist. This vibrant fruitiness is beautifully balanced by a nuanced acidity, elevating the wine’s freshness and ensuring a captivating interplay of taste.
What sets the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Blanc 2022 apart is its ability to evolve in the glass. As it breathes, a delicate minerality emerges, adding a touch of sophistication to the overall profile. The finish is both lingering and harmonious, leaving a memory of the wine’s complex character that lingers long after the final sip.
We award this 2022 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Blanc with a 93-point DWA score.
The second course served consisted of: Veal tartare|Old cheese | Pata Negra | Beetroot | Cashew nut | Tomato vinaigrette. This was accompanied by the 2022 Gigondas “Bellecoste”.
- Gigondas “Bellecoste” 2022
- Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault
- A.O.C. Gigondas
Upon opening the bottle, a captivating bouquet of dark berries, dried herbs, and a touch of black pepper wafts gently from the glass. The wine’s deep ruby hue hints at the richness that awaits the palate.
The first sip reveals a symphony of flavors that dance harmoniously across the tongue. Ripe black cherry and luscious plum take center stage, surrounded by undertones of licorice and a whisper of garrigue—reflecting the wild herbs that grow in the vineyard’s vicinity. These flavors are framed by supple tannins that lend structure and depth, while a well-balanced acidity adds vibrancy to the profile.
What sets the 2021 Gigondas Bellecoste apart is its remarkable ability to combine power with finesse. This vintage strikes a delicate equilibrium between the robust characteristics typical of Gigondas and an elegant refinement that speaks to the estate’s craftsmanship.
As the wine lingers, a sense of complexity deepens, revealing subtle layers that invite contemplation. The finish is satisfyingly long, leaving an impression of the wine’s depth and character that lingers on the palate.
We award this 2022 Gigondas “Bellecoste” with a 93-point DWA score.
The third course served consisted of: Cod and Braised Veal Cheek|Portobello Ravioli | Celeriac | Spring onion | Veal gravy. This was accompanied by the 2020 Vin de la Solitude Blanc.
- Vin de la Solitude Blanc 2020
- Clairette, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Clairette rose, Bourboulenc and Picpoul
- A.O.C. Châteauneuf-du-Pape
As the bottle is uncorked, an enchanting aroma of white flowers and citrus zest fills the air, offering a glimpse into the vibrant symphony of flavors that await. The wine’s pale golden hue sparkles in the glass, a prelude to the delicacy and complexity that unfold on the palate.
The initial sip reveals a captivating dance of flavors that intertwine effortlessly. Juicy pear, crisp green apple, and hints of white peach create a palate that is both refreshing and indulgent. These flavors are underscored by a subtle minerality that adds depth and intrigue to the overall experience.
What sets the 2020 Vin de la Solitude Blanc apart is its impeccable balance. The acidity is finely tuned, providing a lively structure that complements the fruit-forward character. This balance is a true testament to the estate’s unwavering dedication to crafting wines that reflect the unique qualities of the terroir.
The finish is both invigorating and lingering, leaving a lasting impression of the wine’s elegance and complexity. It is as if the very essence of Domaine de la Solitude is captured within each drop, inviting you to savour the artistry that goes into every bottle.
We award this 2020 Vin de la Solitude Blanc with a 95-point DWA score.
The fourth course served consisted of: Duck breast|Pumpkin puree| Polenta | Bundle mushroom | Honey and thyme gravy. This was accompanied by a 2016 Magnum Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Rouge.
- Magnum Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Rouge 2016
- Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Counoise, Terret, Muscardin and Vaccarèse
- A.O.C. Châteauneuf-du-Pape
From the moment the cork is drawn, an enchanting bouquet of ripe red berries, intertwined with hints of spices and the warmth of the sun-kissed earth, fills the air. The wine’s deep, ruby-red hue hints at the depth and complexity that await exploration.
The first sip reveals a symphony of flavors that unfold with elegance and precision. Ripe cherry and blackberry notes dance gracefully on the palate, accompanied by subtle nuances of aromatic herbs and a touch of dark chocolate. These flavors are embraced by velvety tannins that lend structure and finesse to the wine, while a delicate acidity maintains a sense of vibrancy.
What distinguishes the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Rouge 2016 is its seamless fusion of power and grace. It embodies the robust characteristics that are emblematic of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, while simultaneously showcasing the estate’s expertise in creating wines that are refined and balanced.
As the wine lingers, it unveils layers of complexity that invite contemplation. The finish is nothing short of captivating, leaving an indelible impression of the wine’s depth and character on the palate.
We award this 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Rouge with a 94-point DWA score.
The fifth course served consisted of: Black Angus Steak|Mushroom| Garlic mousseline | Red onion marmalade |Shallot gravy. This was accompanied by the 2005 Réserve Secrète.
- Réserve Secrète 2005
- Grenache and Syrah
- A.O.C. Châteauneuf-du-Pape
The Grenache are centennial vines from the oldest part of the Domaine, planted by Florent’s great-grandfather at the beginning of last century. It is located on the western slope of the iconic “La Crau” plateau. The Syrah’s flourish on the fresh soil of Safre des “Blachieres”. These two great Terroirs are always vinified separately, but only in excellent vintages this wine is produced.
Upon opening the bottle, a symphony of aromas is released—dark cherries, dried figs, and a touch of leather, all gracefully intertwining in the air. The wine’s deep garnet hue speaks of maturity and the years that have gracefully passed.
With the first sip, a grand tapestry of flavors unfolds. Lush blackberries, plums, and notes of spiced vanilla dance on the palate, accompanied by subtle hints of tobacco and the warmth of the Provençal sun. The tannins, while still present, have softened over the years, imparting a velvety texture that coats the palate.
What distinguishes the 2005 Réserve Secrète is its ability to evoke a sense of timelessness. It encapsulates the bold characteristics that define Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, while also revealing the magic that happens when a wine matures gracefully in the bottle.
As the wine lingers, it invites reflection—a journey through the layers of history and craftsmanship that have converged in this bottle. The finish is enduring and contemplative, leaving a lasting impression of the wine’s character and the artistry behind it.
We award this 2005 Réserve Secrète with a 95-point DWA score.
The sixth and final course served consisted of: Cheese selection|Raisin fig bread| Walnut and grapes. This was accompanied by the 2003 Barberini Blanc.
- Barberini Blanc 2003
- Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Clairette
- A.O.C. Châteauneuf-du-Pape
The 2003 Barberini Blanc by Domaine de la Solitude is a remarkable testament to the estate’s ability to craft white wines that age with opulence and grace. This vintage, hailing from the iconic Châteauneuf-du-Pape region, showcases the potential for complexity and elegance in white wines through the passage of time.
Upon uncorking the bottle, a symphony of aromas envelops the senses—notes of ripe stone fruits, honeyed nuances, and a hint of toasted almonds create a captivating olfactory tapestry. The wine’s golden hue speaks of maturity and the evolution that has taken place within the bottle.
With the first sip, a harmonious fusion of flavors unfolds on the palate. Layers of apricots, baked pears, and a touch of citrus marmalade create a symposium of tastes that are both luscious and refined. The palate is caressed by a rich, velvety texture, a testament to the wine’s evolution and the intricacies it has acquired over time.
The 2003 Barberini Blanc stands apart with its exquisite balance. The vibrant acidity that characterizes youthful whites has mellowed, yielding to a rounded and sophisticated profile that exudes finesse.
What sets this vintage apart is its ability to transport the drinker to a moment in time—a moment when the grapes were carefully harvested and the wine began its journey towards perfection. The wine’s graceful evolution is a testament to the estate’s commitment to preserving the integrity of the fruit while allowing it to blossom into something extraordinary.
The finish is a lingering crescendo of flavors, a final chord that resonates long after the last sip. The Domaine de la Solitude 2003 Barberini Blanc is an ode to the art of winemaking, an invitation to savor a unique chapter in the estate’s story, and a reminder that white wines, when crafted with care, can evolve into a symphony of flavors that stand the test of time.
We award this 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Rouge with a 90-point DWA score.
In the heart of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine de la Solitude continues to write its chapter in the annals of winemaking history. With an unwavering commitment to honouring the land, nurturing the vines, and producing wines of exceptional quality, the estate stands as a beacon of tradition and terroir. As you explore their website, you are invited to partake in the journey, a journey that extends from the vines to the bottle, and ultimately, to the glass.
We would like to thank Jean Arnaud and Domaine de la Solitude for the opportunity to taste these beautiful wines and Restaurant Soigné for the excellent dinner. Domaine de la Solitude is available in the Netherlands through Jean Arnaud and selected partners.