Home > Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > Harry Karis Visits MacArthur Beverages

Harry Karis Visits MacArthur Beverages


This past Wednesday Harry Karis stopped by MacArthur Beverages to taste the wines of Domaine de la Solitude.  Harry Karis is the author of “The Chateauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book”.  His life-long passion for wine developed into a focus on Chateauneuf-du-Pape and ultimately led to the authoring of this comprehensive, objective book.  This book sits amongst my other Rhone books by the authors John Livingstone-Learmonth, Robert W. Mayberry, and Robert M. Parker, Jr.  I was fortunate to spend a relaxing hour with Harry Karis, Olivia Bombart (OSLO Enterprise), and Phil.  Harry Karis’s 50-60 recent visits to Chateauneuf-du-Pape have yielded depth of knowledge and experiences.  Combined with his personality and effortless conversation this surely was an amiable gathering.

The author, Harry Karis, Phil Bernstein, and Olivia Bombart

Domaine de la Solitude has been around since the 17th century.  The first vintage was bottled by Paul-Clair Martin in 1815.  Twelve years later five barrels of “Vin de la Solitude” were shipped to England.  Two centuries later the Chateauneuf du Pape cuvees are still produced from the original “la Solitude” vineyard which borders La Crau.  There are more extensive holdings in Cotes du Rhone but we did not taste any of those wines.  The fruit is mostly fermented in stainless steel, Roussanne is fermented in barrel, using mostly indigenous yeasts.  Aging takes place in a mixture of stainless steel, concrete, and oak.  For further details please look at Harry’s book!

The two Traditions both showed focus with the Blanc showing a surprising amount of acidity driven character.  The Barberini Blanc reveals its additional oak but the concentrated fruit and grippy aftertaste are appealing.  Progressing from the Barberini Rouge, Cornelia Constanza, to the Reserve Secrete was a treat.  The first two smelled and tasted good but the Reserve Secrete really stepped up a notch.  It was aromatic on the nose and full of pure fruit, impeccable balance, and a haunting aftertaste.  For further details please see my short tasting notes below.

2011 Domaine de la Solitude, Tradition, Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by OSLO Enterprise.  This wine is a blend of 50% Clairette, 20% Roussanne, 20% Bourboulenc, and 10% Grenache Blanc source from ~30 year old vines.  It was aged for eight months on the lees in tank and new oak barrels for the Roussanne.  The color was a very light straw.  There was fresh white fruit, good acidity, precision, delivered with a bracing personality.  There seems to be a slight yeast and nutty aspect along with drying tannins in the finish.

2009 Domaine de la Solitude, Cuvee Barberini, Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by OSLO Enterprise.  This wine is a blend of 95% Roussanne and 5% Clairette sourced from ~35 year old vines.  It was aged nine months in on the lees in small, new oak barrels.  The color was a light, yellow straw.  The nose revealed light, ripe yellow fruit with sweet floral aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were smooth and concentrated.  The fruit was still tight with the acidity starting on the sides of the tongue.  The finish was toasty followed by a long, spiced aftertaste which was a little sappy and gripping.  Nice.

2010 Domaine de la Solitude, Tradition, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by OSLO Enterprise.  This wine is a blend of 55% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre sourced from 30-55 year old vines.  It was aged for 16 months 80% tank and 20% partially new oak barrels  The color was a medium+ rather purple ruby.  The light nose was delicately scented and grapey.  In the mouth there was focused, grapey, purple fruit which stayed focused as juicy acidity came out.  I found a little underlying Mourvedre flavor.  Long finish.

2009 Domaine de la Solitude, Cuvee Barberini, Chateaneuf du Pape
Imported by OSLO Enterprise.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre sourced from ~55 year old vines.  It was aged for 18 months in 70% tanks and 30% new oak barrels.  The color was medium purple garnet.  The nose was lighter though interesting with aromas of darker fruit and earth.  In the mouth the blue fruit had focus with graphite, stones, and structure.  There was salivating acidity.  Drinkable now but best after a few years. Nice.

2009 Domaine de la Solitude, Cornelia Constanza, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by OSLO Enterprise.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from 85+ year old vines.  It was aged for 16 months  in 90% tanks and 10% new barrels.  The color was light to medium garnet.  The nose revealed dark red, brambly fruit.  In the mouth the red and blue fruit expands in the mouth as a vein of acidity moves through.  There was a racy, mineral finish followed by a long aftertaste.  This showed the most structure yet, with firm, drying tannins.  I would cellar for several years.  Nice.

2009 Domaine de la Solitude, Reserve Secrete, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by OSLO Enterprise.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah sourced from 55+ year old vines.  It was aged for 16 months in tanks and 30-60% new oak barrels.  The color was medium purple.  The medium strength nose was assured with grapey aromas, perfume, and black fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were somewhat tight with red and blue fruit.  There was a creamy mouthfeel as the fruit became bluer in the finish.  The structure was well-integrated.  There was a lovely, haunting and lifted aftertaste.  Very nice.

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