Saturday, July 15, 2017

Clos du Soleil will plant second vineyard







Photo: Chicken foraging  in Clos du Soleil's organic vineyard


There is good news for those who never get enough of their favourite wines from Clos du Soleil Winery: this Similkameen winery with a 10-acre estate vineyard has purchased another 10 acres just west of the current vineyard.

The new vineyard is called Les Collines. Half will be planted next spring with Sauvignon Blanc (three clones) and Sémillon, both of which already grow on the estate vineyard. When the new vines are producing, the winery will be able to increase the volumes of its elegant Bordeaux-inspired white wines. The other half of the property will be left in its natural state.

French for “hills,” the Les Collines name was inspired by the rugged nature of the property. “The land is hilly terrain comprised of several steep ridges which is ideal terroir for growing Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grapes,” says Michael Clark, the general manager and winemaker at Clos du Soleil.  

Like the estate vineyard, the property is certified organic. Michael will continue to maintain organic certification for Les Collines and also will be practicing biodynamics here. He believes that living soils are crucial to maintaining vine health and for producing grapes that most truly represent their place.

“For grape growing,” Michael continues, “the soil composition is of paramount importance for establishing a vineyard. The soil at Les Collines is extremely rocky with high levels of angular rocks within the gravelly loam, and is similar in composition to the upper bench Similkameen soil series seen on the estate vineyard. In addition, the organic practices already in place on this property have contributed to maintaining soil health and quality.”

The announcement came shortly after the release of three 2016 wines and a 2014 Syrah. The fruit sources are a mix of estate grapes and purchased grapes, primarily from vineyards in the Similkameen Valley.

Here are notes on the wines.

Clos du Soleil Capella 2015 ($27.90 for 20 barrels). This is 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sémillon. The wine was fermented in barrel (55% French oak puncheons, 45% stainless steel). Half the wine was fermented with wild yeast and one-third of the barrels went through malolactic fermentation. All lots were barrel-aged on the lees for nine months. The result: a rich and complex dry white. It begins with herbal and grapefruit aromas. There is good weight on the palate, with layered flavours of  grapefruit, lime, passionfruit and quince. 91.


Clos du Soleil Sémillon 2016 (wine club only; 110 cases). This wine was fermented and aged eight months in concrete, with minimal handling. It begins with floral aromas along with notes of lime. On the palate, the texture is elegant and polished, with flavours of lemon, lime, wet stone around a backbone of minerality. The finish is dry. 91.

Clos du Soleil Fumé Blanc 2016 ($20.90 for 860 cases). For this wine, grapes were purchased from two Similkameen vineyards and one in Oliver. The blend is 88% Sauvignon Blanc and 12% Sémillon. Both were blended after fermentation was completed in stainless steel, with light oak contact for the Sauvignon Blanc. It is a delicious and complex white, beginning with herbal and grapefruit aromas. The wine is rich on the palate, with flavours of grapefruit, apples and pears. Bright acidity gives the wine a crisp, refreshing finish. 91.

Clos du Soleil Grower’s Series Pinot Blanc 2016 ($20.90 for 522 cases). The Pinot Blanc variety deserves a better profile, given how well in grows in the Okanagan and the Similkameen. This is one of the best examples, a top-flight Pinot Blanc with fresh and floral aromas that reminded me of morning in a hay field after a spring rain. On the palate, it has flavours of crisp apples mingled with hints of citrus. 91.


Clos du Soleil Rosé 2016 ($19.90 for 544 cases). This is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, grown specifically to make rosé. The appeal begins with its dark ruby hue in the glass (a rosé that actually looks like one!).  It has aromas and flavours of wild strawberries, cherries and red plums. A touch of tannin and minerality gives the wine backbone and body. The wine is delicious now but is also a rosé to enjoy with food the whole year. 91.


Clos du Soleil Grower’s Series Syrah 2014 ($26.90 for 250 cases). This is the winery’s first Syrah. It may be a departure from the Bordeaux template at Clos du Soleil, but it is a fine departure. The grapes are from the same Keremeos vineyard that supplies the Pinot Blanc. The appeal begins with the deep, rich colour and the aromas of black cherry, plum and raspberry. On the palate, there are flavours of plum, black cherry and cola, with a hint of cloves and white pepper on the finish. 91.


Clos du Soleil Célestiale 2014 ($26.90 for 57 barrels). This is 38% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot, aged 15 months in French oak. This is a very approachable Bordeaux blend, beginning with aromas of black currant, cherry and raspberry, followed by flavours of black cherry, blueberry and plums. The long ripe tannins give the wine easy elegance. 92.

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