Solbar at Solage Calistoga

755 Silverado Trail

Calistoga, CA 94515

Tel. +1 (707) 226 0850

This delicious, informal lunch provided an ideal backdrop to check in on a handful of iconic California Pinot Noirs. Solbar is part of the stylish Solage Resort complex just outside Calistoga. The restaurant has received quite a bit of favorable press recently, all wholly deserved. The ambience is pretty casual at lunch, although I am told the dining room is a bit more elegant for dinner. Our two pizzas were delicious and would have made a fabulous lunch on their own. Distinctive and creative, they are worth a special trip on their own. I preferred the maitake mushroom pizza, which was bursting with flavor and character. My cod main course was also very nicely done. On this day, though, the focus was a bit tilted towards the wines on the table. I look forward to going back to Solbar and spending more time with the menu, as the food merits more attention than I was able to give it.

I was frankly blown away by the 1992 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast from William-Selyem, which was in great shape, though fully mature. The wine showed fabulous balance in its sweet, layered fruit and a totally sensual, inviting personality. It was off the charts. The 1990 Kalin Cellars Pinot Noir Cuvee DD was also equally impressive. At 21 years of age it has stood the test of time quite well. It remains a big, powerful Pinot with tons of richness. There is so much fruit and structure I imagine the bouquet will mature faster than the tannins fade, but this is nevertheless a gorgeous wine. The 1975 Chalone Pinot Noir Chalone Vineyard was dazzling from start to finish. Hints of tar, smoke and licorice added complexity in this rich, deeply-layered Pinot. The 2000 W.H. Smith Pinot Noir Hellenthal Vineyard was the only wine that didn’t turn me on, as it seemed excessively syrupy, alcoholic and out of balance.


Maitake Mushroom Pizza; caramelized onion and cave-aged Gruyère

Solbar Pizza; smoked barbeque short-ribs, sharp cheddar, charred onions and cilantro

Pacific Cod, English peas, hen-of-the-woods, pea tendrils and pickled mustard seeds



William-Selyem Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast



Kalin Cellars Pinot Noir Cuvee DD



Chalone Pinot Noir Chalone Vineyard



W.H. Smith Pinot Noir Hellenthal Vineyard


 -- Antonio Galloni