"To reach the end - or the final result of something" is only part of the meaning behind "culmina". In fact, aiming for the highest achievement is the other layer to this story. While the Culmina Family Estate Winery marked the final hands on wine chapter for the Triggs family, it marked some firsts for BC. The Culmina legacy continues today under the Arterra Wines Canada umbrella. If you want to know more about the interesting naming conventions, BC's first sub-appellation and the family behind it, keep reading. Why not pick up a bottle for some added pleasure to your afternoon?
The Triggs Family
Canada has a 70 year young wine industry with a few pioneers at the center of it. Don Triggs is one of those pioneers. He's a farm kid from Manitoba who followed his love of agriculture to a very successful career that spanned consumer goods, beer and eventually wine. In 1989 he and partner Alan Jackson started the Jackson-Triggs brand which went on to become the most awarded VQA brand in Canada. When retirement was an option, he chose to build Culmina in an effort to showcase the possibilities using the latest technology and highest wine making standards which resulted in some of the finest wines available in Canada. If you want to know more about Don Triggs click here.
In 2015, I had the pleasure to meet Don for the first time as my cohort WSET Diploma group toured the Okanagan in preparation for 18 months of intensive wine study. Most of us had some knowledge of BC wine but none anticipated the "culmina" approach, hard at work here on the Golden Mile. I have never forgotten this remarkable experience because the wines struck an old world cord in a new world winery. After this encounter, I met Don at wine events and my work place and was always impressed with his low key and humble demeanor sharing a smile for a picture and a handshake for the effort.
Culmina is about terroir. It is located on the Golden Mile Bench which was established in 2015 at 1575 acres with only half of the area planted to grape vines. This defined growing region has good air flow, ancient glaciofluvial soils, sand and gravel on slopes with elevation that support good drainage. The terraced vineyards of Culmina are located on the west slope, facing the Black Sage Bench. As a result, the vines get ample morning sun which is beneficial for drying off morning dew, preventing mold and rot. With less sun in the afternoon there is a reduced the risk of berry sunburn. Golden Mile Bench now appears on bottle labels and has been an inspiration to other grape growing areas in BC. Today there are seven sub-appellations in BC and more to come.
Winemaker's Wine Stylings from Jean-Marc Enixon
Three Icons: Dilemma, Unicus & Hypothesis
Are you a Chardonnay lover? Then you must try Dilemma. It's 100% chardonnay from Margaret's Bench that spends time in new and second use French oak barrels as well as steel tanks. Aromas of fruit (citrus, tropical) in perfect harmony with subtle oak and hints of honey. There is a fantastic balance of richness, acidity and flavour that defines this dry Chardonnay. It's silky texture and flavours of toasted nuts and sweet citrus peel linger to the end. Fantastic! This is one of the truly masterful Chardonnay's in BC. At $38 a bottle you will be delighted. And a great pairing with cow's milk triple cream brie like Saint Andre from Normandy served at room temperature with crackers.
Unicus in Latin means unprecedented or only. Are you ready to explore the first Gruner Veltliner in BC? With grapes from Margaret's Vineyard, these berries are gently pressed and fermented in concrete egg, concrete amphora and neutral French oak. If you are a sauvignon blanc fan, you will appreciate Unicus. Grapefruit nose, racy on the palate with hints of white pepper and cut grass. It has a rich texture and freshness that keeps you coming back. Try pairing this with a fresh chevre or delicate salty brie. At $29 a bottle this is a steal.
If you like big reds then look no further than "Hypothesis". Sweet ripe black fruit aromas, deep ruby color in the glass with flavours of dried black currant, prune plum, sweet wood and spice accompanied by fine grain tannins and good acidity leading to a dry finish. Your palate will call for more. This is the sleeper red of BC's wine offering. John Schreiner says 94 points! I won't argue. It could be higher. This is "good wine" at $50. Can't beat the price value equation here and it goes perfectly with strong cheddar, blue vein cheese or a grilled rib eye.
More to come from Culmina
Summer is coming. A visit to Culmina offers not only a remarkable tasting experience but also a fantastic view and possibly a chance to meet winemaker Jean-Marc Enixon. It will be unforgettable so don't wait. If that is not an option they have several events planned to entice wine lovers in Vancouver including winemaker dinners and tastings. Visit their website for more information. If you have any feedback please leave your comments below. Thank you for reading and I hope you will share this story with your wine loving friends.
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