Photo: Clos du Soleil's Spencer Massie
During the several vintages in which Clos du Soleil has been
releasing a Cabernet Sauvignon rosé, wine critics including me have been just
knocked out by the wine.
Well, the winery hits it out of the park again with its 2013
rosé. Its other new releases also are impressive.
This small winery, which opened in 2008, is a rising star in
the Similkameen Valley
. Credit goes to a well-managed
vineyard as well as to the winery’s exceptional winemaker, Ann Sperling.
The winery is owned by several couples who all have day jobs
in various businesses and professions. But they also share a love for wines
imbued with the values of Bordeaux.
Spencer Massie, the lead partner, developed a knowledge of
wine when he was an officer in the Canadian navy. Aside from the port drinking
tradition inherited from the Royal Navy, Spencer assignments occasionally
provided opportunity to visit wine regions. He still fondly recalls a 1984
vacation that involved hiking through the vineyards of Bordeaux.
of those formative visits may have been the occasion in 2002 when he and Bonnie
Henry, his wife, ran the Marathon du Médoc.
The sponsors of this Bordeaux
run have wine stations along the route. Naturally, it attracts about 8,000
runners, passing through a countryside that sounds like a wine list. The next
one will take place September 14 this year.
is a legitimate marathon and it is just a great experience,” Spencer once told
me. “They say the more times you run it, the slower you get.”
was then living in Toronto.
However, the year after he and Bonnie moved to Vancouver in 2005, he found partners and a
vineyard site near Keremeos. The vineyard was planted in 2007 entirely to Bordeaux red and white
the vineyard geared up for production, Clos Du Soleil established its label
with wines from purchased grapes. The winery has since made a transition
largely to estate-grown fruit, although it also has a “Grower’s Series” label
for wines made with grapes from elsewhere in the Similkameen.
benefitted from serendipity when he went looking for a winemaker: he discovered
that a high school colleague, Ann Sperling, had developed a national reputation
as a winemaker.
Ann began her winemaking career in 1987 in BC and then moved
1995. Spencer had lost touch with her after he left Kelowna
, where he and Ann had been
“Then I saw an article in the Globe that she was Canadian
winemaker of the year,” he recalls. “Bonnie and I were then living in Toronto. We did one of
our annual runs down to Niagara for wine and I called Ann out of the blue, and
said hey, Spencer Massie from Kelowna,
do you remember me?”
It seemed she did. When Spencer was launching Clos du
Soleil, it coincided with Ann’s launch of her family winery in Kelowna, Sperling Vineyards. She had time to
take on Clos du Soleil, where she makes polished wines in the French style
admired by the owners.
Here are notes on the current releases.
Clos du Soleil
Grower’s Series Middle Bench Vineyard Pinot Blanc 2013 ($19.90 for 320
cases). This is the best Pinot Blanc yet from this winery. It is a wine with
generous fruit aromas and flavours. The aromas are like walking through an
orchard when the trees are flowering. On the palate, there are flavours of
apples, honeydew and cantaloupe. The finish lingers. 92.
Clos du Soleil Fumé
Blanc 2013 ($19.90 for 450 cases). This is 88% Sauvignon Blanc, 12%
Sémillon. The back labels discloses that this was fermented in French oak puncheons; it does not appear to have been aged in barrel because the wine is quite fruit forward, to its benefit. It begins with aromas of lime and grapefruit. Those flavours are delivered to the palate, along with herbal notes. The finish is refreshingly tangy and crisp. 90
Clos du Soleil Capella 2012 ($24.90 for 220 cases). This is 92%
Sauvignon Blanc, 8% Sémillon. This is a much more intense expression of
Sauvignon Blanc with aromas and flavours of lime and grapefruit on a background
of herbs and honey. A portion of this was fermented in an oak puncheon which,
no doubt, contributed to the generous texture. On the dry finish, there is a
mouthwatering tang that leaves the palate refreshed. 91.
Clos du Soleil Rosé
2013 ($19.90 for 740 cases). Made entirely with Cabernet Sauvignon, the
wine just explodes from the glass with dramatic aromas of red currant and
strawberry. On the palate, there are flavours of cherry, plum and mulberry.
While the finish is dry, the berry flavours are so intense as to seem almost
sweet. This rosé will strut across hundreds of picnics. 91.
Clos du Soleil Signature 2011 ($39.90 for 225 cases). This is 44%
Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec and 5% Petit
Verdot. The sad news is that this is sold out; it is as fine a Bordeaux blend as any B.C. producer made in
the 2011 vintage. It has aromas of black currant and vanilla, with a lovely
core of sweet berry flavours, including cassias and cherry. On the finish,
there is a touch of cola and chocolate. 91.