Monday, April 1, 2013

Clos du Soleil 2013 Spring Equinox releases


Clos du Soleil Winery likes to call itself the premier artisan wine producer in the Similkameen Valley.

That is hyperbole, but only because the Similkameen is blessed with a number of excellent artisanal wineries. Everyone heading for an interior wine tour should budget a day in the Similkameen.

One reason is that the artisanal wineries, almost by definition, produce wines in such small lots that the wines have limited distribution. The best place to get them is at the winery.

Clos du Soleil did not even have a wine shop at its 4.1-hectare Upper Bench Road vineyard when it began marketing its wines in 2008. That has changed now that winery has increased its total production to 2,400 cases. The tasting room is open Thursday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Outside of these hours, call 1-250-499-9340 to book an appointment.

A few years ago, the winery added wines from grower vineyards in the Similkameen which offered some special fruit. These are part of the winery’s Grower Series.

What for the imminent release of two Growers Series wines:  the Chegwin & Baessler Pinot Blanc 2012 ($19.90 for 195 cases) and the Makepeace Merlot 2011 ($24.90 for 100 cases). Previous vintages of the Pinot Blanc were outstanding. The Makepeace Merlot is new to Clos du Soleil; the winery promises it is a “blockbuster” Merlot.

Among the latest releases, the one that really turned my head was the rosé. This wine puts Clos du Soleil in the top tier of rosé producers in British Columbia.

Here are my notes.

Clos du Soleil Fumé Blanc 2012 ($19.90 for 550 cases). This is 85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Sémillon. The name, which translates top smoky white, is generally applied to similar wines that have been fermented in barrels. The style is the polar opposite of the fruit-in-your-face New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc style. There are wine lovers firmly in either camp. Those who like the smoky, herbal style with a crisp dry finish will enjoy this wine. There are hints of grapefruit and grapefruit rind on the palate, with lingering herbal notes. 90.

 Clos du Soleil Rosé 2012 ($18.90 for 550 cases). This wine is made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon, which accounts for the attractive deep hue and for the magnificent concentration of fruit aromas and flavours. The texture is luscious, with flavours of cherry, strawberry and raspberry. While the fruit shows a sweet core on mid-palate, the finish is dry, making this a superb food wine. 92.

Clos du Soleil Célestiale 2011 ($24.90 f0r 400 cases). This is a blend of 44% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec. The alcohol level of 13.4% indicates that the winery was able to secure properly ripened grapes despite the challenges of the cool vintage.  The wine begins with aromas of blackberry and cherry with a hint of espresso. On the palate, there are flavours of blackberry, black currant, chocolate and tobacco. The ripe tannins help give the wine a generous texture, especially when the wine opens up after decanting. Keep in mind that this is still a young red that has more to show if you have the patience to cellar it for several years. 89.

Clos du Soleil Signature 2010 ($39.90 for 275 cases). This wine was previously released but not yet reviewed here. This is 48% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% each of Malbec and Petit Verdot. The winery still has 150 cases available. This is an elegantly polished wine, structured for cellaring. The wine begins with appealing aromas of black cherry and mocha. On the palate, there are flavours of plum and blackberry, with hints of espresso and dark chocolate on the finish. The tannins are firm but polished. 91.


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