Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Clos du Soleil uses Malbec for rosé

Photo: Winemaker Michael Clark

Those of us who review wines look forward to the spring releases for the rosé wines, in particular.

Rosé wines from British Columbia have acquired a strong following among consumers as more and more producers have made them and as the quality has risen spectacularly.

The appeal of rosé begins with appearance – pink wines are pretty. Because the wines are released when they are young, they are almost always bursting with fruity aromas and flavours.

Most of today’s rosé wines are dry or, if there is residual sugar, it is carefully balanced with bright acidity so as to finish dry. That makes the wines versatile enough that they can be enjoyed on their own as well as with a broad range of cuisines.

One of the best I have tasted this spring is the 2019 Malbec rosé that Michael Clark made at Clos du Soleil Winery in the Similkameen.

Malbec rosé is relatively rare, perhaps because there is not a lot of Malbec being grown and most of it ends up in red blends. If memory serves, most previous rosé vintages from Clos du Soleil were made with Cabernet Sauvignon. I would surmise that Clos du Soleil’s Malbec vines are young, when the fruit is best suited for making rosé.

As a winemaker, Michael goes to great lengths when he gets the fruit into the winery. The grapes for his 2019 Rosé were destemmed, lightly crushed and then soaked under dry ice for six hours to achieve a remarkable delicacy of colour. The grapes were then pressed gently and then fermented long and cool in stainless steel. The wine was aged on the lees and was not handled until it got a light filtration prior to bottling.

The outcome is a pristine, focussed wine, redolent in fruit flavours and fuller on the palate that one would expect from its delicate hue.

Here is a note on that wine and three other spring releases from Clos.

Clos du Soleil Winemaker’s Series Pinot Blanc 2019 ($19.90 for 597 cases). This wine was fermented cool in stainless steel to highlight the fruit and the aromas of this wine. It begins with enticing floral aromas. Both the aromas and the flavours recall crisp, fresh apples mingled with nectarine and pear. The finish is crisp and lingering, leaving the palate very refreshed. 92.

Clos du Soleil Winemaker’s Series Pinot Gris 2019 ($19.90 for 388 cases). This wine was fermented at cool temperatures for more than a month; and in a combination of vessels (stainless steel and French oak puncheons). The wine was aged on the lees for three months. The wine begins with aromas of pear and citrus. On the palate, the are flavours of pears and stone fruit. 90.

Clos du Soleil Fumé Blanc 2019 ($18.90 for 533 cases). This is 77% Sauvignon Blanc and 23% Sémillon. The varietals were fermented separately, at cool temperatures and in a variety of vessels. The blend was put together after the individual wines had aged on the lees for four months. The wine begins with aromas of lemon and lime mingled with a suggestion of herbs. On the palate, there is a basket of flavour – apples, grapefruit – framed very subtly with toasted oak. Bright acidity gives the wine a long, refreshing finish. 91.

Clos du Soleil Rosé 2019 ($19.90 for 328 cases). This wine is made with Malbec grapes. Skin contact was limited to deliver a fashionable pale hue in the glass. This underlines the elegant delicacy of the wine. On the nose, there are aromas lightly suggesting strawberry, rhubarb and pomegranate. The colour, however, is deceptive. The wine delivers a punch of fruit to the palate – cherry, pomegranate and strawberry. Bright acidity is nicely balanced with a touch of residual sugar. 92.

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