New wineries to discover: Clos du Soleil
By John Schreiner
The first in an occasional series on British Columbia’s newest wineries
November 22, 2008
There is a very good chance that you will be challenged to find the first releases from this new Similkameen winery because less than 100 cases has been released of each of the winery’s two wines.
The winery’s website, www.closdusoleil.ca is minimal but it does provide contacts for those want to purchase the wines.
The wines are a fine debut, as one would expect. The winemaker is Lawrence Herder, whose own winery has a cult following and whose finger prints are all over several other rising stars.
Lawrence and Sharon Herder are sweat equity partners in this new winery. The lead financial partners are Spencer Massie, a Vancouver business consultant, and his wife, Bonnie Henry, a physician. There are several wine-loving silent partners as well.
Massie is a retired Canadian Navy lieutenant-commander who a deep passion for wine (he used to run Port appreciation evenings for his fellow officers). Toward the end of his naval career - he retired in 2000 after 22 years – he was posted in southern California. He and Bonnie had many opportunities to visit that state’s wine country, and not just to taste the wines. Both being distance runners, they have competed in several Napa marathons. In 2002, they also ran the famous Marathon du Medoc, which winds its way past Bordeaux chateaux and, if you can believe it, wine tasting stations. Several years later, he began looking for a way to have a winery of his own.
The connection with Herder developed after Massie had tasted Josephine, Herder’s flagship red, and then met the Herders at a Vancouver tasting. “When it came time to scope a few vineyards, I thought Lawrence makes great wines,” Massie recalls. “Maybe he is ready for another project.” It turned out that he was.
In 2007 Massie bought a 10-acre orchard on Upper Bench Road, not far from the Grist Mill at Keremeos, and he engaged Herder to convert it to a vineyard. They planted Bordeaux varieties entirely. “I love everything classic French,” Massie says.
By great coincidence, while Herder was working on the Clos du Soleil property, he discovered that the neighbouring property, with a large house on it, was for sale. Moving quickly, he sold his Cawston winery and relocated the Herder winery to the big house. As it turns out, this is a far better location for a vineyard than Cawston. And it is easy for him to keep an eye on the Clos du Soleil property next door.
The first wines for Clos du Soleil were made in the 2006 vintage at the Herder winery (although a winery is planned for Clos as the volumes grow). So far, Herder has relied on purchased grapes since the Clos vineyard is a few years away from full production.
Clos du Soleil White 2006 ($30). The winery produced 150 six-bottle cases of this wine, which is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. This is one of two white varieties, the other being Sémillon, that were planted in the estate vineyard last year. This wine has a lovely core of sweet fruit framed by minerals. The flavours are peachy, a touch tropical with a hint of gooseberry. The finish is dry. 88
Clos du Soleil Red 2006 ($45). The winery produced 185 six-bottle cases of this wine. It is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 18% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard includes these three varieties. This elegant wine tastes like something that one might encounter will running the Medoc marathon. The texture is firm and age worthy. On the palate, there are flavours of red berries, plum, cedar, chocolate, with a hint of vanilla on the nose. Still a young wine for this style, it benefits from decanting. 88
It is interesting (and logical) that Herder has crafted this wine in a different style compared with his Josephine, which tends to be a Merlot-dominant blend. The 2006 Josephine was 82% Merlot while the 2007 is 66% Merlot.
John Schreiner is author of British Columbia Wine Country
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