Culmina Family Estate Winery graced the wine glasses at Le Crocodile, a French resto just off of Burrard St. downtown Vancouver, on Monday, February 22nd, 2016, during the Vancouver International Wine Festival.
Folks gathered in the foyer of the restaurant known for its delectable foie gras brûlée eagerly waiting to see how this renowned restaurant would highlight both its own culinary gems with the vino of one of BC’s most respected wineries.
Culmina Estate’s journey started back in 2007, when Don, Elaine, and daughter Sara Triggs decided to expand their experiences in the wine industry by creating a family business with the objective of “mak[ing] the highest quality wines possible from their family’s own estate”.
Their winemaker, Pascal Madevon, took the journey from France to come and make wine in BC. Of his winemaking philosophy, Madevon says, “Most important is terroir. Good grapes is good terroir.”
Focused on Bordeaux varieties and varietals, Culmina creates a platform for other French-wine-inspired wineries to look up to. “Pascal is such a strong vineyard manager,” said Elaine Triggs. “Great wine is made in the vineyard.”
With a total of 7 plates, there was plenty of opportunity to dig into the food and wine pairings. Let’s start the adventure.
*Asparagus, Chanterelle, and Tomato Tartelette
* 2014 Unicus
The tart was a pocket of earthy goodness. The acidity of the Unicus balanced well with the creamy tart. Made from 100% Grüner veltliner, Unicus showed brilliant white grapefruit, tangerine, lemon & lime, and finished with a gorgeous white pepper note.
Don Triggs informed an eager crowd that they put in the first plantings of Grüner veltliner in the Okanagan Valley. His wife, Elaine, added “We call Grüner a love child.”
*Foie Gras Brûlée served with Toasted Baguette
* 2015 Haut-Plateau Riesling
Wow! Rich and complex duck liver with a sugary ceiling paired delectably with the Riesling. Melon, stone fruits, mandarin, and candied lime burst through the wine. Since this wine was off dry, the hint of sweetness made this a match made in heaven.
“This is the first time pouring the Haut-Plateau.” Don Triggs stated. A few of the guests in the resto piped up (including myself) with notes of appreciation. When Pascal took the stage, he educated us to the fact that they “pick the grapes very, very late [because] [they] want a good balance of sugars, flavours, and elegance.”
*Grilled Sablefish with Saffron Velouté
* 2012 & 2013 Dilemma
These Dilemma wines are 100% Chardonnay. They truly paired well with the velouté sauce.
The 2012 was an elegant wine made from 18 year old vines with lots of toasty oak and a serious stone fruit backbone. Hailing from Arise Bench in the Okanagan Valley, these vines enjoy hotter temperatures and lower density plantings. A silky mouthfeel, due to some malolactic fermentation (60%), helped develop the layered complexity of this vintage. A medium intensity bouquet fluttered vanilla cream, lemon curd, and toast. Rich and bold, this particular Chardonnay is a solid choice for a white wine that can stand its own to heavier foods. Lovely.
Of the 2013 vintage, which comes from a higher density, cooler climate site in the Okanagan Valley called Margaret’s Bench, leaner citrus and mineral notes graced the glass. Madevon calls the 2013 a “very Burgundy style” wine. With its high acidity, delicate stone fruit notes, and a staying minerality, one cannot argue that. I’ll have another glass, please.
THIRD COURSE – Duck Confit served with a Merlot Jus
* 2013 Merlot
Well, I love duck, and the duck was delightful on its own. However, I must say that the smocha (my word for smokey & mocha) notes in the finish enhanced the duck experience. The Merlot was, quite honestly, a delight to have. In my humble opinion, it is one of the top three Merlots in BC. It was brimming with plum, black cherry, cassis, vanilla, and chewy tobacco notes. I’m dazed just thinking about it. Of this wine, Pascal said, “It’s a big wine. I love this Merlot.” I’m on board with you, Pascal.
*Roasted Veal Loin served with Black Winter Truffle Cream Sauce
* 2012 & 2013 Hypothesis
Of the vin, these Bordeaux-inspired wines are great examples of BC’s potential on the world stage. The 2012 was richer and more complex than the 2013, which was leaner and finer.
The 2012 was multi-faceted with plum, black cherry, blackberry, currant, with hints of mocha on the back of the bouquet. The well-integrated palate notes include wet tobacco, ripe red fruit, and a long, black-pepper finish. In comparison, the 2013 granted notes of plum, smokey pepper, and blackberry. The finish was also long with smooth toasted oak notes.
In the educational booklet that we received at the dinner, it states that the Hypothesis wines, “represent the Triggs’ culmination of efforts to create an icon quality wine from select micro blocks off their Golden Mile Bench estate […] [which] create a wine of outstanding power, beauty, elegance, and style”. My impressions of the Hypothesis wines in the glass were that they use France as their Muse, but they are, in totality, examples of how well-rounded, respectable, and inspiring BC wines can be.
*Selection of French Cheeses
* 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
I was truly so stuffed at this point, that I only ate one bite of cheese. I heard that they all delivered though. I did engage with my wine, however, and it was a briliantly lean Cab Sauv with red cherry, dry earth, cranberry, currant, and subtle minerality. Gratitude.
*Poire Williams Sorbet
The dinner at Le Crocodile was delightfully filling. I definitely left with both a deeper sense of appreciation for BC wine, French cuisine, and a full belly.
For more information on Culmina Estate Family Winery, visit their website at www.culmina.ca or email them at email@example.com. (Make sure you visit and take advantage of their neat sit-down tastings!)
The Demystified Vine