Photo: Elaine and Donald Triggs of Culmina
On March 1,
Culmina Family Estate Winery will release its first single varietal red – a $31
Merlot from the fine 2013.
attending the Vancouver International Wine Festival, Culmina will have a table
on the floor and this will be one of the wines.
For those at
the trade tastings, Culmina proprietor Donald Triggs will also have another
wine to be released on April 1: a $34 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. Both wines are sold winery direct and the licensees; the Merlot is also in the VQA system.
wines at the Culmina table will be Decora (a Riesling), Dilemma (a Chardonnay)
and Hypothesis, the winery’s flagship Bordeaux blend.
extension by a winery as capable as Culmina should be exciting to all fans of
and collectors of Okanagan wines.
family has a meticulously cultivated vineyard on one of the best sites on the
Golden Mile. The winery is state of the art. The winemaker is French-trained
Pascal Madevon, who made almost a dozen vintages at Osoyoos Larose before
joining the Triggs family at Culmina.
Here is a
bit of background from John Schreiner’s
Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.
The winery name is
simply explained: it is the culmination of a career in wine for Donald and
Elaine Triggs and their daughter, Sara. The parents spared no expense to create
the south Okanagan’s most ambitious winery - at an age when others would
retire. “Retirement to me is a nasty word because it implies stopping,” says
Donald, who was born in Manitoba in 1944. “I don’t think life is about
stopping. It is about continuing and doing what you love.”
He began his career in
1972 with the winery arm of John Labatt Ltd. He left that a decade later to run
the North American operations of a British fertilizer company. But in 1989,
when Labatt sold its wineries, Donald led the team buying them. This became
Vincor which had grown to the world’s 14th largest wine company by
the time Constellation Brands (the largest) took it over in 2006. A year later,
he and Elaine bought what has become 22.6 hectares (56 acres) of densely
planted vines on three mountainside benches on the Golden Mile.
They tapped the
expertise of Alain Sutre, the same Bordeaux consultant they had worked with
when Vincor (with a French partner) began the Osoyoos Larose vineyard and
winery in 1999. Alain assured them they could produce wines of even greater
quality because the Okanagan terroir is much better understood. With that
assurance, the Triggs family has set out to raise the bar again, including
luring winemaker Pascal Madevon to Culmina from Osoyoos Larose.
The three vineyard
benches, each with differing soils and elevations, provide winemaking options.
Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon comprise the largest blocks,
followed by Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The surprise
is the Okanagan’s first (one hectare) of Grüner Veltiner, the Austrian white,
planted on the highest elevation vineyard in the south Okanagan.
There are other
surprises here. The gravity-flow winery’s floor is a checkerboard of black and
white Italian tiles under French chandeliers. The antique tasting room table
came from the barn of Doukhabor leader Peter Verigin. The winery keeps visitor
groups small but offers in-depth personal vineyard tours. There is no better
place to view the Okanagan Valley than from Culmina vineyards, with a glass of
wine in hand.
Here is my note on the new wine.
Culmina Merlot 2013 ($31).
This wine was aged 16 months in French oak (50% new), polishing the long ripe
tannins. The wine begins with aromas of red fruit, vanilla and spice. On the
palate, the voluptuous texture emerges with breathing. The flavours include
plum, cassis and blackberry. The finish lingers. 92