A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 550: Culmina Launch

Monday, June 22: Wrote up 30 wine reviews for Quench magazine. Since Deborah is still away I decided to open a can of tripe I had purchased in a gas station in Spain on a recent trip. Deborah hates tripe so this was a good time to try it. And since Deborah is not a great fan of curry cooked at home I decided to do curried tripe. It was delicious with a bottle of Burrowing Owl Chardonnay 2013 (straw colour; minerally, apple and forest floor bouquet; medium to ful-bodied, dry with pear and pineapple flavours and nicely integrated oak; touch of smokiness on the finish (89)).

Tuesday, June 23: Deborah got back from Vancouver on the red-eye and filled me in with news of our grandson. In the evening, down to Allen’s for a Wine Writer’s Circle Dinner. Each of us brought a bottle of wine:

  • 13th Street Gamay/Pinot Noir 2013 VQA
  • Irsai Oliver 2014 (Muscat) Hungarian
  • Veuve Clicquot Rich NV
  • Laurenz V. Friendly Gruner Veltliner 2012 Kampal
  • La Faite Cotes de Saint Mont 2001 Madiran
  • Kuhlmann Platz Cremant de Rose NV Alsace (Pinot Noir)
  • Argyros Santorini 2014 Assyrtika Greece
  • Yalumba The Strapper Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2012 Australia (my wine)
  • Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2011
  • Lenko Old Vines Merlot 2003 VQA

A hit at the Wine Writers’ dinner

The wine of the night

I ordered deep-fried calamari with Mongolian fire sauce and pan-seared wild halibut with tomato vinaigrette. The wine of the night was the Lenko Old Vines Merlot, still vibrant and fresh after 12 years. As a prelude to dinner Sheila Swerling-Puritt brought along a bottle of the new Veuve Clicquot Rich, a champagne with residual sweetness designed as the base of cocktails for the club circuit. It was poured over ice and we could choose the addition of a slice of pineapple, red pepper or cucumber. It costs $82.20, which is costly when you think about the ice and the fruit and vegetables.

Champagne for cocktails

Wednesday, June 24: Wrote my columns for Post City Magazines and On The Go and the Wines of the Week for my site. Booked a flight to Vancouver in August and then got down to some tasting:

  • Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris 2014 (Okanagan Valley): light straw colour; minerally, peach pit nose; sweetish white peach and pear flavours, mouth-filling. (88)
  • Strewn Gewurztraminer 2011 (Niagara Peninsula): straw colour; oily, aromatic, rose petal nose; thick and unctuous on the palate, lychee and tangerine flavours; moderate length. (86)
  • Ironstone Vineyards Obsession Symphony 2013 (California): very pale, almost water white with a lime tint; fragrant, orange blossom and citrus nose; dry, light-bodied, perfumed, cardamom and tangerine flavours. Exotic but beautifully made. (89+)
  • Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Rosé 2014 (Okanagan Valley): pale orange-pink colour; peachy-watermelon nose; medium-bodied, some sweetness, expressive and fruity but could be drier. (87)
  • Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Pinot Noir 2011 (Okanagan Valley): tawny ruby colour; briary, cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, earthy cherry flavour, firmly structured, muscular. (86)
  • Tinhorn Creek Pinot Noir 2012 (Okanagan Valley): ruby colour with an orange rim; rhubarb and cherry nose with a minerally, light floral note; ripe red berry fruit with some sweetness in mid palate, soft and well balanced with a lovely mouth-feel and a firm tannic finish. (89+)
  • Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2013 (Okanagan Valley): solid ruby colour; black raspberry and violets on the nose; spicy oak and black cherry flavours with a smoky note; sweet fruit with balancing acidity. (90)
  • Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc 2012 (Okanagan Valley): deep ruby colour; cedar, smoky, red berry; mouth-filling, well-extracted flavours of plum and grainy tannins with evident oak and a lively spine of acidity. (89)
  • Burrowing Owl Syrah 2012: dense purple-ruby colour; savoury-meaty nose of blackberry, pepper and oak spice; rich and full on the palate, creamy blackberry and chocolate flavours with balancing acidity and a tannic lift on the finish. Good length. (90)
  • Burrowing Owl Athene 2012 (53% Syrah 47% Cabernet Sauvignon): deep purple-ruby colour; cedar, blackcurrant and blackberry nose with an uplift from oak; beautifully balanced and seamless full-bodied flavours of black fruits and oak. Sweetness checked by savoury notes. A distinguished wine. (92)
  • Domaine Buisse-Matteri Cuvée du Paradis 2013 (Côtes de Provence): deep ruby colour; toasty, smoky, reductive nose; dry, medium-bodied, raspberry flavour with resolved tannins. Easy drinking. (87+)
  • Villa Maria Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (New Zealand): deep ruby colour; cedar, red berry nose; dry, medium-bodied, minty, currant flavours with soft tannins. (88)
  • Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Columbia Valley, Washington – $17.95): deep ruby colour; cedar, red and blackcurrant aromas; dry, medium to full-bodied, firmly structured blackcurrant flavour with vanilla oak. (88)

Thursday, June 25: A meeting with Doris Maculan Bradley, the new president of Grapes for Humanity, and Arlindo Beca of Wines of Portugal to discuss the Douro Boys’ visit to Toronto in October. In the evening to Canoe for the launch of Culmina Hypothesis 2012 at Vintages. Don and Elaine Triggs hosted the event with winemaker Pascal Madevon.

Don Triggs of Culmina

The menu:

Canapes – West coast oyster and sea buckthorn; crispy pork belly & green tomatoes; shore lunch fried northern pike steam bun, with Culmina Decora Riesling 2014

Yarmouth lobster, compressed watermelon, licorice mascarpone & cucumber, with Culmina Unicus Grüner Veltliner 2014

Grandview Farms pasture pork, mixed charcuterie, warm olives & Branston pickle, with Culmina Saignée Rosé 2014

Owen Sound pheasant, Okanagan hazelnuts, apple butter & ricotta gnocchi, with Culmina Dilemma Chardonnay 2013

Intermezzo: rhubarb slices on a bed of sugar

Alberta waygu beef tip, tree syrup glazed short rib, horseradish greens, portobello pickles & smoky mustard aioli, with Culmina Hypothesis 2011 & 2012

I couldn’t stay for the cheese course, but got to taste a barrel sample of Culmina Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (which is going to be terrific when it’s out of oak and in bottle). In fact, all the wines showed very well and the rosé is the best I’ve tried from BC.

Culmina Unicus Grüner Veltliner 2014

Culmina Saignée Rosé 2014

Friday, June 26: A Vintages’ release tasting today. Dinner, BBQ steak with Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrah 2012 (dense purple colour with nose of blackberries, vanilla oak, herbs and savoury spice; full-bodied, rich and full on the palate, dry, bold and jammy (92)).

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