Monday, April 4, 2016

Culmina continues to extend its portfolio


Culmina Family Estate Winery, the winery run by Donald Triggs and his family, has added a second single varietal red wine as it gradually expands a portfolio anchored by Hypothesis, an elegant and premium-priced Bordeaux blend.

New is a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, joining the 2013 Merlot that was released during the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

Also just released is the 2014 vintage of the winery’s R&D Blend, Culmina’s most accessible red for early consumption, both in texture and in price, at $22 a bottle. The R&D Blend is widely available in BC Liquor Distribution Branch stores. The LDB site shows that the remaining inventory of the 2013 R&D Blend is still available in 52 stores while the 2014 is already in 20 stores.

The R&D stands out in the Culmina portfolio for its folksy label: two farm boys seated side by side. The Triggs family made this label by using an old photograph of Don Triggs and his twin brother, Ron.

Ron has never been in the wine business and has never had the same high profile of Don, who once ran Vincor International, Canada’s largest wine company and one of the world’s largest. After Vincor was taken over in 2006 by Constellation Brands, Don – together with wife Elaine and daughter Sara – poured their energy and resources into Culmina

Don, who was born in Manitoba in 1944, once told me: “Retirement to me is a nasty word because it implies stopping. I don’t think life is about stopping. It is about continuing and doing what you love.”

He certainly is not stopping. Culmina has 22.6 hectares (56 acres) of densely planted vines on three mountainside benches on the Golden Mile, all of it planted or replanted since 2008. As the vines have begun to mature, Culmina has the fruit that enables winemaker Pascal Madevon to enlarge the portfolio.

In addition to Hypothesis, Culmina also produces a Grüner Veltliner called Unicus, a Riesling called Decora, a Chardonnay called Dilemma and a rosé called Saignée.

The R&D joined the family last year, with the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot being new releases this year. The latter two are limited production wines available primarily at the winery and to members of the Culmina wine club.

Here are notes on these three. I reviewed the Merlot a month ago but I am repeating that review as a convenience to readers.

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 

Culmina Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($34). The wine was aged 16 months in Frenc oak barrels (64% new). This begins with classic varietal aromas of cassis, blackberry and spice. On the palate, there are flavours of black currant with hints of espresso and black olive. The texture is firm, thanks to both the ripe tannins and the minerality. The wine benefits from decanting but patient consumers would be advised to cellar this at least to 2020. 90.

Culmina R & D Red Blend 2014 ($22). This wine, a Merlot-dominant blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, is exceptional value. It begins with aromas of black cherry, black currant, chocolate and toasted oak. It is generous on the palate with flavours of black currant, blackberry, espresso and spice. 91

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