When I asked Bernie Rink what grapes he used for Soleil Blanc, he replied: "Soleil Blanc!" I was somewhat embarrassed that I hadn't heard of that grape. "The French have a number for it," he said, "but I make the only Soleil Blanc in North America." The name means "white sun," and Bernie considers it Boskydel's "premium white wine,...bone dry with a touch of oak." He advises waiting "at least a year" before starting to drink it.
In the tasting room at Boskydel and as I try the first bottle of a case I brought home, I am at a bit of a loss to place Soleil Blanc in the context of wines I know. It's a light yellow color, and the aroma doesn't give a big come-on, although it has nice under-stated scents of white peaches, melon and flowers. It's medium to full bodied, again with understated fruit flavors. It's definitely dry but with ripe fruit flavors, pineapple and melon, that carry all the way from front to back. It's pleasant enough to drink now, but I'll take Bernie's word for it: the best is yet to come. This is nothing like Chardonnay. It's not racy enough to be Sauvignon Blanc nor fragrant enough to be Viognier. The acidity is not as apparent as it is in Leelanau Vignoles (my favorite Boskydel wine for many years). Having tasted it just after Domaine des Baumard's Clos du Papillon, I guess I would compare it to a Chenin Blanc from Anjou--often a puzzle, always changing and with good aging potential. I'm looking forward to following this wine over the next several years.