Sunday, March 17, 2019

Culmina's yin and yang wines




  
 Photo: Elaine and Don Triggs


It must be spring when wineries begin releasing their rosé wines.

One of the first to arrive at my door has been the 2018 R&D Blend from Culmina Family Estate Winery.

Strangely, it was accompanied by Culmina’s flagship red, the 2014 Hypothesis. The yin and yang of the Culmina portfolio, perhaps, but satisfying wines all the same.

For some background on Culmina, here is an excerpt from the 2014 edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide:

The winery 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.

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 one hectare of Grüner Veltiner, the Austrian white, planted on the highest elevation vineyard in the south Okanagan.

Here are notes on the two recent releases from Culmina.

Culmina R&D Rosé Blend 2018 ($19). R & D are the initials of the twin Triggs brothers, Ron and Don (although Ron is not involved in the wine business). While the blend is not available, the wine likely is similar to earlier vintages – Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. The colour is fashionable pale but this dry rosé delivers good aromas and flavours. It begins with strawberry notes mingled with rhubarb. The wine is crisp and refreshing. 91.

Culmina Hypothesis 2014 ($46). This is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 22% Cabernet Franc. It was aged 16 months in French oak (30% new). The wine has aromas and flavours of black cherry and black cherry with notes of dark chocolate on the finish. The tannins still have grip. Even after double decanting, the wine took its time to open; but it is a wine that rewards patience. 93.



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