Monday, November 12, 2018

Clos du Soleil buys a third vineyard

Photo: La Côte, Clos do Soleil's new vineyard

A vineyard purchase last week has extended Clos du Soleil Winery’s footprint in the terroir of Upper Bench Road in Keremeos that is critical to the winery’s Bordeaux-inspired wines.

To be christened La Côte, the 10-acre property, which is just 300 meters east of Clos du Soleil’s estate vineyard, has about 7.25 acres under vines. The vines are more than 10 years old. The remainder will be planted.

The largest block on the property is Malbec, a complement to the Bordeaux varietals grown in the estate vineyard.

“We have been buying a small amount of Malbec from this vineyard for a number of years now, so I know the fruit quality, and the site quality, very well,” says Michael Clark, the managing director and winemaker at Clos du Soleil (photo below).

Last year, Clos du Soleil purchased a 12-acre Upper Bench property west of the estate vineyard. It was christened Les Collines. This spring, about 5 1/2 acres was planted to Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. About one remaining acre will be planted, with the rest left as natural mountainside.

The estate vineyard, where planting began in 2007, grows primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with some Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.

“Like our estate vineyard, La Côte is tucked right up against the mountainside, with the same rocky soils,” Michael says. The southwest-facing vineyard “exhibits exactly the same terroir characteristics: well-draining stony soils, with water-holding capacity and some organic matter.”

The vineyard will be transitioned to the organic and biodynamic techniques now practised on the winery’s other two vineyards.

La Côte will allow Clos du Soleil to expand its portfolio to include a Malbec and perhaps other small lot varietals.

“Beyond the Malbec, there are smaller blocks of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Viognier,” Michael says. “We will be growing those varieties and assessing their suitability for the site, over the coming year.  Our plan is to convert select blocks to our core Bordeaux focus. Merlot and Cabernet Franc are both slotted for us to plant on this site. However, we'll take time to make a considered decision about which blocks to convert.”

Clos du Soleil now makes wine only with Similkameen fruit, some of it purchased from other growers or vineyards managed by Clos. The winery leases a 6 ½-acre vineyard near Keremeos called Whispered Secret; and the winery has bought fruit for some years from a property called Middle Bench Vineyard.

“The Whispering Secret Vineyard has Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Pinot Gris planted there,” Michael says. “We have been working with this vineyard for a number of years now, and the Sauvignon Blanc it produces is very high quality, and ends up in some of our best wines.  In fact, we have some special new releases coming out shortly, just before the holiday season, including a new vintage of Saturn, our well known late-harvest dessert wine from Sauvignon Blanc.  It is sourced solely from the Whispered Secret vineyard.”

In the past, the Pinot Gris was sold to other wineries. “This year we elected to use a portion of this fruit at Clos du Soleil, to create a new small-lot Winemaker's Series Pinot Gris that will come to market next year,” Michael adds. 

The tag, Winemaker’s Series, distinguishes these wines from estate-grown wines.

Here are notes on three recent releases from Clos du Soleil.

Clos du Soleil Béton 2016 Winemaker’s Series ($N/A for 118 cases). This wine, a blend of 89% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc, was fermented and matured entirely in concrete. The technique seems to express intense fruity aromas and flavours of black cherry, blackberry and raspberry. 90

Clos du Soleil Syrah 2016 Winemaker’s Series ($32.90 for 396 cases). This dark wine begins with aromas of red fruit, spice and pepper. On the palate, there are flavours of plum, cherry and fig. The wine was aged in oak for 16 months (12% was new). The oak shows subtly with vanilla on the nose and palate. 91.

Clos du Soleil Estate Reserve Red 2014 ($59.90 for 151 cases). This is the winery’s ultra-premium red. The blend is a blend of 45% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 3% Malbec. Each variety was vinified separately and aged 15 months in French oak (31% new) before being blended. This bold, dark wine has a rich texture. It begins with aromas of cassis, black cherry, plum and cedar. The palate delivers layers of flavour – black cherry, fig, dark chocolate, black coffee and hints of slate. Decant it if you need to drink it now. It will cellar well to 2025 and beyond. 93.



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