Monday, October 22, 2018

Culmina by the numbers

Photo: Culmina winery

Several years ago, Culmina Family Estate Winery began releasing small lot wines in what it calls a number series.

These are the special wines that keep both winemakers and wine club members excited: winemakers because they get to craft pet projects; wine club members because they get to taste something rare and unusual.

In this fall’s release, the special wine is called No. 005 Süsser Riesling 2017. Those who know some German will understand that this will be a slightly sweet wine, such as you might find from a top German estate.

The trick to make sweet Riesling wines is the balance – enough acidity to keep the wine fresh and vibrant on the palate. Sweet wines lacking acid are flabby and boring. This wine is not.

No. 005 is made with clone 21B Riesling grown on the high-altitude vineyard that the winery calls Margaret’s Bench. The altitude preserves the intense flavours of the varietal, along with the acidity. The grapes for this wine were picked on October 17, 2017, indicating they had lots of hang time. Fermentation was entirely in stainless steel.

The wine was 48.3 grams of residual sugar. What stops the wine from seeming too sweet is that the acidity is 8.43 grams per liter. The wine might even have done with a few more grams of acid.

The combination of acidity and sugar will enable the wine to age as gloriously as well-made Riesling will. The winery says the aging potential is eight to 10 years.

Here are notes on No. 005 and its companions in the current Culmina release.

Culmina Decora Riesling 2017 ($21). The wine begins with aromas of citrus. On the palate, there are citrus and stone fruit flavours with a fine spine of minerality. The finish is crisp and dry. The fruit flavours linger. 90.

Culmina No. 005 Süsser Riesling 2017 ($26). This wine is modelled on the great off-dry German Rieslings. It begins with aromas of citrus and peach. The residual sugar lifts both the aroma and the luscious fruit flavours. The bright acidity and the minerality balance the sweet notes. The finish lingers. 92.

Culmina Dilemma Chardonnay 2016 ($34). Here is a Chardonnay to give Burgundy a run, beginning with complex aromas of fruit and oak. The wine has rich weight on the palate with flavours of citrus and apple mingled with lightly toasted oak. Bright acidity gives the wine a refreshing finish. The structure will support aging this wine for several more years. 92.

Culmina R&D Red Blend 2016 ($23). This is a blend of  five Bordeaux varietals (percentages unavailable). It has aromas and flavours of black currant, black cherry and vanilla. As the wine opens up, there are also flavours of plum and chocolate. The long ripe tannins give the wine a mouth-filling texture. Terrific value. 91.


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