Similkameen Shining Star, Clos du Soleil


Discovering a hidden gem is one of the most exciting parts about being a wine-lover. Stumbling across your next favourite bottle is a memorable occasion, whether the wine was a gift from a friend, a bottle you fell in love with on an Okanagan wine tour, or a suggestion from a server at your favourite restaurant. I recently had one of these moments when I enjoyed Clos du Soleil‘s Saturn at The Brasserie.

Since 2006, Clos du Soleil has been producing “…premium quality wines in a Bordeaux style”. Their 2009 Celestial made an appearance on Tannic, and the Capella is a go-to favourite for any occasion. Clos du Soleil is located in the South Similkameen Valley Upper Bench, west of Oliver.

Clos du Soleil winemaker, Ann Sperling and co-owner Leslie LeQuelenec

At a recent tasting at The Brasserie in Kensington, the tasting list included the Capella, Rose, Signature and Saturn. Chef Jorel Zielke paired each wine with a delicious course, created specifically to match the layers and subtleties of the wines.

Brasserie Menu

Brasserie is a well known eatery in Calgary, with a great following and phenomenal reputation. That being said, it was my first visit! The evening’s attendees were a great mix of Calgary culinary and wine community, a lively bunch of hungry people (including Chef Cam Dobranski)! The night’s hosts were Leslie Lequence, co-owner of Clos du Soleil and winemaker Ann Sperling. Ann gave introductions to each of her wines, while Chef Jorel appeared from the kitchen to elaborate on the menu and pairing choices.

IMAG1669  clos_du_soleil_capella

The first course was a crispy duck salad, paired with the 2009 Capella (95% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Semillon). The vineyards are located on a steep, rocky south facing slope. Ann noted that 2009 was a long and warm season, which helped to maintain the minerality and freshness of the wine.

The crispy duck salad had blood orange and lemon segments in a poppyseed dressing. I was worried that the citrus would be too acidic for the wine, but pleasantly surprised that the fruit heightened and brightened the wine. The saltiness of the duck brought out the minerality in the wine, which also added another layer of texture and increased the body. After each bite, the wine provided a different experience, quite complex for a “salad and sauv.”

IMAG1675  Clos du Soleil Rose 2011 with blank background

Next on the menu, seared scallops served with the 2012 Rose. As a side note, Ann had brought this wine with her as it had been bottled just prior to the dinner. It will be interesting to try this again, after the wine has some time to relax. The rose is 100% Cabernet and undergoes a cold soak overnight before press.

I noted  floral elements with peaches and raspberry. I think this will be a great option for a fuller-bodied summer wine to pair with BBQ and pot-lucks. The scallops were pan seared in brown butter with a vanilla bean infused EVOO and a balsamic gastrique. A few duck fat frites added some crunch (never too much duck fat).

IMAG1682_BURST002  CDS_Signature_2010

The main course was a hanger steak from Spring Creek Ranch, roasted marrow bone and cauliflower with red wine au jus and espresso salt, served with the Clos du Soleil Signature. The blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot spends 11 months in French oak.

The Signature was dark and garnet in colour, presenting black currant and cassis on the nose. Strong but supple tannins and medium acidity balanced the layers of dark fruit and lush plums. The finish had some savoury qualities with some of the oak showing through in  vanilla, cocoa nibs and prunes. The meal was a perfect match,  a great balance between savoury-sweet and rich, fatty layers.

IMAG1685   ClosduSoleil_Saturn

The late harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Saturn, was served with a savoury dessert of foie grois on once baked pistachio biscotti and a quince jelly, with julienne apple and passion fruit coullee. The high level of acidity in the Saturn moderated the residual sweetness of canned pears and some vanilla bean while concentrated citrus fruits, marmalade and bright citrus peel added another layer. The wine was harvested at 29 brix, at -6 degrees Celsius.

Unfortunately, I learned shortly afterwards that the Saturn is not available in Alberta and is sold out at the winery. The weather conditions of the last harvest did not allow for any Saturn to be produced this past year.

The upside is that Clos du Soleil has a wine club, Soleil 160, that caters to those who need to have access to these almost unattainable wines. Wine Club members are given access to wines such as the Saturn…when available. Although Clos du Soleil is along a road less traveled in the OK, it is a necessary stop; you won’t regret going a little out of the way to visit!