Having tasted with Eric for over a decade now, it’s been a wild ride seeing the continued growth and changes in his portfolio. Coming from the music industry, Solomon created European Cellars in 1990. While he initially included a handful of wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy – to keep the lights on, as he says – it was the wines of the Mediterranean that drew his passion. He was able to represent some incredible domaines, including Domaine de la Janasse, Domaine de Marcoux, Domaine Roger Sabon, Domaine la Garrigue, Château Pesquié, Domaine Droin, Clos Erasmus, Hacienda Monasterio, Pazo de Señorans, and Mas Donis from the start. These remain some of the pillars of the portfolio today.
It took Eric 10 years to hire his first permanent employee, but from 2000 to 2010, European Cellars became the go-to source for incredible wines from the South of France and Spain, both in terms of quality and value. The portfolio grew at this point to include Domaine Giraud, Domaine Lafage, Clos Saint Jean, Aalto, Casa Castillo, Rafael Palacios, and Evodia as well as Saint-Jean du Barroux, Comando G, Ester Nin, and other tiny producers who would later go on to become reference point producers for their regions.
While the 2008 financial crisis wreaked havoc with all the specialty importers in the United States, Eric commented that 2010 to 2020 was a rewarding time for him personally. He watched some of his earliest winemakers and most obscure discoveries rise in notoriety and international fame, including Dani & Fer at Comando G, Julien Brechet at Domaine des Bosquets, Ester Nin, and Dominik Huber at Terroir al Limit, to name a few. This decade was also a time of generational change for many producers, and Eric commented on the satisfaction of watching parents hand over the winemaking reins to their children.
True to form, Eric remains committed to discovering the promising new talent of today, creating a new brand called Indigo Wines (the music references are always easy to spot). This brand will focus on up-and-coming producers who might fall outside of what European Cellars is traditionally known for. It’s easy to become stereotyped in this industry, and Eric commented that with Indigo Wines, he “began to feel liberated from being typecast as just the France & Spain guy.” He went on to say, “In creating Indigo, I not only wanted to promote small, innovative growers but to break out of expectations by creating a small Swiss portfolio, representing an up-and-coming grower in Chile, and introducing wines from the Republic of Macedonia.” Eric will also be launching Domaine des Tourelles, from Bekaa in Lebanon, in the coming months.
The sky is the limit, and if anyone has proven their talent in finding incredible wines from unknown, obscure, or under-appreciated regions, it’s Eric Solomon. While we tend to focus on winemakers and estates today, we should not lose sight of the work, commitment, and passion of the top importers. Without them, the wine world would be much less rich and diverse. As I hope these reviews show, the future remains incredibly bright for European Cellars and Indigo Wines.
All of these tastings took place at my office in Colorado, and as expected, it was a bevy of brilliant wines.