Breaking Bread with Clos du Soleil at Tavola



Marc du Soleil

A ground-breaking collaboration: Marc du Soleil, made by Long Table Distillery, TP photo

The Hired Belly has attended more than few winemaker dinners. But some remain etched in my memory. The very first was when Howard Soon (now Peller Estates’ chief winemaker, then Calona Vineyards’) dropped by the original Raintree, in Vancouver, to pour his wines. (To this day, Howard, who never met a mic he didn’t like, remains one of BC’s most entertaining wine industry speakers and educators.)

For most of us uneducated urban bumpkins at the time, it was a novel experience: to have the guy who actually oversaw the picking of the grapes and made the wine to come and pour it for us. Since then a steady schedule of dinners has helped lay the foundation for BC’s blossoming wine culture.


Clos at Tavola

Clos at Tavola

A Clos “Cellar Tasting” at Tavola

This week I was sitting at a communal table in the West End’s cosy and welcoming Tavola, a guest of Spencer Massie, partner in Similkameen’s Clos du Soleil.

What struck me was how winemaker dinners have evolved over the years—and how both Massie and the folks at Tavola happily embraced those changes. In fact, they called it, more appropriately, a “cellar tasting”.

The speeches—the practice of introducing every dish—were ditched. Instead, we had a brief welcome as the first flight was poured and the shared plates began to arrive.

Massie decided not to interrupt the conviviality and instead visited each of the the four large tables in turn. It all worked very well.

Clos du Soleil vertical

Clos Consistency at play: a mini vertical of red blends

I liked the idea of pouring two flights of three wines each (mini-verticals of essentially the same wine through different vintages, in each case 07, 08 and 11). The dishes (all a salute to Tavola’s much loved predecessor, Tapastree) came in well orchestrated succession. Everyone had a chance to try and decide for themselves what they felt worked best.


Clos du Similkameen

Those flights revealed an impressive consistency. Clos du Soleil is a Similkameen bellweather that, as it matures, underscores the potential of the Okanagan’s all too easily overlooked neighbour. The wines are made by Ann Sperling in a style that plants itself firmly between old and new world camps; and is also immensely food friendly, as this evening proved.

I was impressed with the way even the older whites are standing up, although I leaned in favour of both the 2008s (Capella and Signature Red Blend). The Clos du Soleil Capella 2011, which we picked as Best White Wine at last year’s Okanagan BC Wine Awards judging, continues to evolve and impress.

Tavola seafood salad

Tavola seafood salad, a good match with Capella

Three shoo-in pairings of the evening were classics: the wicked, honey and nectarine toned Saturn 2013 dessert wine—think ‘Sauternes’ and you’ll get the picture, says Massie—with foie gras and rhubarb;  Clos du Soleil Capella 2008 with seafood salad of scallop and prawn; and the deeply red berried, cassis toned, plummy but structured  Clos du Soleil 2008 Signature (91 pts.) with chicken livers, and the beef tenderloin. Also well worth tracking down, the  Clos du Soleil 2011 Signature (90 pts) from the winery, $39.95.

Clos du Soleil Meets its Marc

A superb way to finish—and a sign of more good things to come

A superb way to finish—and a sign of more good things to come

Still one more highlight came with the unveiling of Marc du Soleil. This “co-pro” between Clos du Soleil and Vancouver’s Long Table Distillery, yields a very clean, subtly caramel and smooth tasting (43% alcohol ) distilled spirit made from Merlot must that’s an indication of great things to come. Long Table’s Charles Tremewen says it’s precisely the kind of local collaboration to which he aspires.

Check in at the distillery next week if your’e interested. And only at the distillery—because the winery’s not allowed to sell it. I mean, why would you even think that? Especially in BC…

We’ll have more on Clos de Soleil in coming weeks.


(This material appears as a column in this weekend’s North Shore News)

By | 2018-01-21T15:05:18+00:00 March 21st, 2014|Hired Belly's Best Wines, Spirits|0 Comments

About the Author:

Tim has been covering the food and wine revolution for about 20 kilos. Count 15 kg alone thanks to the blossoming cuisine and wine culture of British Columbia, Canada. Tim’s hallmark is seeking out and recommending value wines from BC and around the world that offer quality at every level. He also scopes out noteworthy restaurants that live up to their promises—and often over deliver. Readers depend on the Hired Belly for his “Belly’s Best” and “Belly’s Budget Best” picks to help them find the right wine for the occasion. He writes, tweets and shoots his own images for columns in the Vancouver Courier and North Shore News. He also contributes to WHERE Vancouver magazine, as well as to several other publications. They include Taste magazine, Tidings Magazine, and Montecristo. His columns are frequently picked up by major newspapers across Canada. Tim is a frequent judge for wine competitions, such as Vancouver Magazine International Wine Awards. He is a founding judge of The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. He is frequently invited to judge at The BC Wine Awards, and others. Tim has traveled to taste in many of the world’s leading wine regions, most recently in Burgundy, Argentina and Chile.

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