Natural Solitude | New Beijing wine bar has 600-plus labels

I popped into new wine bar / restaurant Solitude by veteran importer Felix Liu last week for a quick look. Modern and airy, Solitude has over 600 wine options, including some 300 in the natural / minimal intervention / let’s-debate-what-these-terms-mean category.

Solitude is based around a large dining room flanked on one side by the glass-fronted temperature-controlled ‘cellar’ that houses those 600 wines and on the other by semi-private dining areas. A patio out front shares an often-bustling strip with a half-dozen other spots, including the Spanish-themed tapas and wine bar Caliente and French restaurant Bistro 108.

Wine starts at CNY250 per bottle and climbs into the thousands. Given Liu imports much of the wine, the adventurous will find plenty of labels beyond the “same old, same old”–and will also find it easy to run up a large bill!

The food focus is Chinese dishes with modern twists. The mint and perilla wrapped in cucumber strips and dressed in a sauce with a refreshing vinegary edge opened the palate, while the duck smoked over jujube wood is tender, juicy and, well, smoky. This bird is paired with a kind of peach compote and peach slices.

Unaware of Solitude’s wine focus, I brought Peachless Chardonnay-Pinot Noir from Petit Garden / Xiao Pu in Ningxia, only to find they stock that and other wines by this producer. Nevertheless, it served as a nice starter along with some salted peanuts.

We then tried ‘Poison Rouge’ Marselan, which retails for RMB280. I drink a lot of Marselan, nearly all Chinese, and this rambunctious French wine was quite a change of pace. The nose is floral, with dark berry and plum and hints of spice and eucalyptus. There is lots of deep ripe fruit, with a slight tarry-ness and more spice. Not quite what a natural wine lover might seek but I enjoyed it as a reasonably priced mid-week tipple.

(See the World Marselan Day project for more on this grape.)

Solitude is in “soft opening” mode. Expect some food menu tweaks as well as some events to follow their first tasting, that one focused on Champagne. Current hours are 5:30 PM to late daily, with the kitchen closing at 11 PM.

Here are a few pics (the first three are via Felix Liu):

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