The Demystified Vine

Taking the mystery out of wine exploration!

The leaves are starting to change colour. Greens are turning to oranges, reds, and yellows, and we all know that this means the cooler breezes and chilly nights are on the way. And if we are going to be honest with each other, snow has already fallen on the mountain passes between the bustling city of Vancouver and the more remote towns of the interior.

But not a mere four to five hours away from Vantopia, viticulturalists and viniculturalists are hard at work alongside their picking crews trying to put the new vintage wines together for bottle and aging.

Furthermore, as fall approaches, winelovers everywhere are making that switch from crisp white wines to deeper, more warming reds.

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Culmina Family Estate Winery

Personally, I’m still hanging on to the last rays of sunshine, and am still sipping Rieslings and rosé, but that’s just me.

As fall digs deeper into the ground, I want to let you know about some of the reds that you can find which might not only solidify your understanding of what British Columbia wines are, but also about a time and place in the Golden Mile Bench – British Columbia’s first sub-geographical indication (sub-GI).


Demystified Vine taking tasting notes for the 2014 Merlot by Culmina Family Estate Winery

I have written about Culmina Family Estate winery on my blog before. You can read more about their winery here and here. Today, however, I’m going to talk about their red wines, as we have many cozy nights to look forward to either in front of the fire with a book in our hands or snuggling up to our loved one on the couch. Oh, and, well, there are also a number of holiday parties that will start to fill our calendars in short order. So, make sure you’re making good choices with what you bring to sip and savour, winelover!

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Dearest Cab Sauv fans, this developing wine is keeping it real with notes of Lapin Cherry, hints of very ripe raspberry, dark chocolate, Ribena, and leather. It is a dry, red wine with high acidity and fair tannin structure. (Think chewy tannin.) It is lusher than Merlot, and worked very well with Kalamata olives and Cambozola. A perfect holiday gift for a colleague.
$39.00/750ml btl

Photo © Demystified Vine

2014 Cabernet Franc by Culmina Family Estate Winery

2014 Cabernet Franc

Woooo! Cab Franc lovers, you are in for a treat! This medium intensity wine was filled with cherry cola candy, dark chocolate, prune, mixed peppercorn, cherry, and fruit leather notes. It was a spice bomb, and true to its spicy character, was quite complementary to the toasted notes from the oaking program. The perfect cheese pairing for this beaut was Irish Porter Cheddar. Savour this one for yourself. <wink>
$38.00/750ml btl

2014 Merlot

This Merlot reminded me of Blaye — a region in Bordeaux which works with this style/intensity of the grape. It was on the lighter side of the spectrum for body, but still intrigued me with its blueberry, sweet vanilla, mocha, and hint of nutmeg. Plum and dark cherry notes were also available to me. The palate is quite oak driven, with some good tannin structure, and loads of blackberry fruit. The Merlot paired excellently with Raincoast crisps and Cambozola as well, and if you’re a fan of Merlot and cheese, this is a good opportunity for you.
$35.00/750ml btl

For more information, please check out their website. A kind thank you to Culmina for providing me with the samples to try some of these expressive wines.


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Hello wine lovers!

Here’s the ‘quick and dirty’ on a recent wine I tried – the 2016 Wild Goose Vineyards “Mystic River Vineyard” Gewurztraminer – that I was definitely “wowed” with.

If you can get your hands on a bottle of this award-winning wine, do so. It recently received Okanagan Wine Festival’s “Wine of the Year 2017”. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of off-dry white wines, this is worth a shot. Try it with some spicy Pad Thai or a Daal curry. You won’t be disappointed nor able to tell it is off-dry, to be honest.


What you’ll experience is a well-balanced white wine in both acidity and sugar levels. It doesn’t seem as sweet because the acidity is high enough. This particular “Gew” is very old-world styled, and is complex to boot. Furthermore, now that I think about it, what you’ll have with this wine is an experience.

Made from 100% estate grapes from the Mystic River Vineyard, the bouquet and palate notes are ‘fruitful’; you’ll likely find some kind of combination of stone and citrus fruits, in addition to ripe tropical fruit characteristics.

What I found? Fuzzy peach, lychee, nectarine, lemon, juicy mango, honey, white pepper, hints of apricot, a smidgen of fresh grape, and some stoniness.

ABV: 13.6%
Grape: 100% Gewurztraminer
Production: 200 cases
Winery price: $20 a bottle.


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Rosés are truly making a splash in many glasses these days. The latest rosé movement started picking up its heels in the last half of a decade, and I am not seeing this trend slowing down anytime soon.

A Bit About Rosé

In a nutshell, this particular style of wine is made when red grapes are harvested, pressed for their juice, and then sometimes left for varying periods of time to extract some colour from the skins of the grapes.

According to The Commonsense Book of Wine by Leon D. Adams, rosé is a “drink anytime” kind of wine; it is versatile wine in that it can be served anytime, it is flexible for various occasions, and useful to have on hand if you just want a glass of wine!

“I advise you to buy an all-purpose wine, and to let the rest come naturally. Such an all-purpose beverage is the pink table wine called Rosé (pronounced Ro-ZAY). […] Rosé is the one wine you can bring out of your refrigerator and serve at any time for any use without a brow-wrinkling thought as to whether you have made an acceptable choice. Chill, open, and pour; it is that simple” (p.65).

Now, with Adams’s sharp clarity on how rosé can function, I think it is important to know that rosés fall on the spectrum of extremely light in flavour and body to tremendously deep in colour, flavour, and body. It all depends on what you like. However, don’t shy away from one or the other; you might be missing out on your next beloved wine!

I have to say that it was a delight to try the different styles of rosé that Culmina is producing. They cover a lot of ground between the Saignée and the R&D blend, which is awesome for the general consumer. In short, I love the versatility that Culmina is offering wine consumers between these two wines.


I spoke to Sara Triggs, Sales and Marketing Manager of Culmina Family Estate Winery and daughter of Don Triggs, a pioneer in the British Columbia wine industry, to find out more about Culmina’s particular 2016 rosés.

Differences in Style

TDV: The 2016 Saignée and 2016 R&D Rosé Blend are two very different roses. First, tell me a bit about the 2016 Saignée.

ST: The difference involves essentially that of winemaking. Our Saignée of course is made in the saignée method, which involves bleeding juice from our red wine fermenters at harvest. As much as possible, we try to bring all of our fruit from each one of our 44 micro-blocks separately, reds included. When making our Saignée, the juice bled off of each fermenter is then also handled separately. When it’s time to blend the finished rosé wine, we undergo the same blending process that we do for our reds wines, such that even though the reds undergo the saignée process, is no guarantee that the saignée’d juice will end up in our Saignée rosé.

TDV: And how about the 2016 R&D Rosé Blend?

ST: Our R&D Rosé Blend on the other hand, has been made in the ‘direct press’ method from blocks of fruit specifically designated for the rosé. Because of the production method, it is a bit lighter and a bit more lively in terms of acidity. Like all of the wines in our ‘R&D by Culmina’ Series, it has been made from 100% estate grown fruit, but moreover, is meant for enjoyment across all contexts, with or without food, with company, at home, on the patio, or with dinner, etc. It’s a bit more casual than Saignée, and ever-so-slightly more sweet. Because we are a Bordeaux red house, it has been made similarly from a blend of Bordeaux red varietals.


TDV: How do you determine what your rosé blends will be?

ST: The varietal breakdown varies from vintage to vintage just like our reds, as it is not determined by a predetermined ‘formula’, but solely on what is best that year. Stylistically, because of the way that the wine is made (i.e. with fruit harvested at full maturity), our Saignée always tends to be textural, creamy, and a bit unctuous; it also tends to balance savoury flavours with bright fruit characters, even across vintages despite the varietal breakdown.

The Wines – My Reviews and Notes

2016 R&D Rosé Blend                    $19.00 winery price

Plentiful notes of strawberry, rhubarb, raspberry and pink grapefruit flesh. Medium boded. Very nice acidity. Long finish. Peppery tones come out on the palate. Fantastic rosé, midway between Provençal and something as medium bodied as 8th Generation. Curious about this rosé with BBQ chicken or pan-fried dumplings. Crisp and refreshing. Bright. Would put money on it being a rosé that “non-rosé lovers” might like. Made from Merlot, Malbec and the two Cabernets. Also available at BC Liquor Stores.

2016 Saignée                                     $24.00 winery price

Poetic rosé with delicate mineral-driven notes. Strawberry perfumed and bright. Clean and balanced acidity. Delectable. Well-rounded fruit on both bouquet and palate. A cultivated sophistication. Notes of cranberry are uncovered mid-palate and lead to a refreshingly pure finish. Adored this with seasoned salmon and a herbed-yogurt dressing with a mixed greens salad. Additional pairing: a porch and a summer sunset. [grin] Made from 73% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 13% Malbec. 100% Golden Mile Bench.

For more information on Culmina Family Estate Winery, read about their “Pursuit of Excellence” here. You can also check out their winery page here.

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2015 Pinot Blanc – Oraniensteiner – VQA

A very fun wine! Bursting with stone and tree fruit, this blended beauty is a lovely sipper for a hot day when chilled to perfection. Oraniensteiner is a German variety that was originally created to make sparkling wines, however, matched with the late harvest Pinot Blanc in this wine, it balances quite well. If you like a heavier bodied white wine with a touch of sweetness, do check this out!

Lunessence Pinot Blanc Oraniensteiner

2015 Sauvignon Blanc – Muscat – VQA

This blended wine also includes Canolli, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Semillon. Peach skins and a light candied nose define the bouquet. Stainless steel fermentation went on for 34 days, and then the wine was aged another 4 months on the lees. The palate has a nice peaches and cream feel. Additionally, the palate is quite floral, and I would definitely recommend pairing this dry, energetic wine with Asian-inspired dishes.

2014 Sauvignon Blanc

Still holding up in May 2017, this beautiful Sauvignon Blanc was bright and filled with veins of citrus and grass. Hints of clementine shone through. A delightful white wine from British Columbia showing South Okanagan potential. (Note: This particular wine was bottled and produced by Moonlight Valley Winery Ltd. in Summerland, BC. as per label information.)

Lunessence Sauv Blanc

2014 Merlot – VQA

One hundred percent Merlot goes into this vintage wine. This particular wine was fermented at high temperatures for just over two weeks and went through full malolactic fermentation. The program for the Merlot was aging in Hungarian, Slovakian, and French oak. The wine itself showed solid toastiness and dark fruit character. If you are a fan of lighter styled Merlot, this is definitely one to try. Drink by 2018.

Lunessence merlot

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – VQA

The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Lunessence was also fermented at high temperatures for a wee bit longer than the Merlot. The oaking program was the same as the Merlot. The wine itself showed red fruit character with a strong toasted nature. Lighter bodied than southern BC Cab Sauv’s, this red wine most interestingly showed notes of Partridgeberry and currant leaf. The palate showed some light peppery notes. An easy-drinking Cabernet.


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Lunessence Winery in Summerland, BC, is starting to gain some traction in the local wine world. Their motto, “Harmony, from vine to wine”, plays close attention to wine making from the dirt up. As the winery is experimenting with classical music being broadcast throughout the vineyard, Lunessence is utilizing alternative methods, shall we say, to influence what goes into bottle. Their belief: that classical music provides positive effects to the grapes via the sound vibrations and frequencies of, arguably, the most complex music on the planet.

Lunessence logo

Interestingly Enough…

To make things even more specific, Lunessence is not broadcasting just any classical music. The “chosen ones” include operas composed by Verdi, Mozart, Rossini, Leoncavallo, and others.

Now, before you judge or scoff at the idea, I have to let you in on a secret. While I cannot link you to the exact experiments, it has been proven that listening to classical music while studying can increase your understanding of material thus leading to higher grades in school.

According to an article published in USC News (, “University research in France, published in Learning and Individual Differences, found that students who listened to a one-hour lecture where classical music was played in the background scored significantly higher in a quiz on the lecture when compared to a similar group of students who heard the lecture with no music.” Being a teacher, I will support any theory that would help students be better students! So, if grapes are the students of the land, play on Mozart!


Photo from

The Land

Summerland, BC, is rife with a variety of soil compositions, and Lunessence’s estate vineyard is situated on ancient bedrock. Giant’s Head Mountain is not far off from the site, and this particular mountain is known to locals to be an ancient volcano. Volcanic soils tend to impart favourable characteristics to a wine’s profile, and if you are a wine lover who enjoys minerality, volcanic soils might be your thing. Think Sicilian wines; vino from around the Mt. Etna area are bursting with terroir influence.


Photo from

Viticultural Practices

Lunessence Winery & Vineyard is practicing sustainable viticulture. While not yet fully biodynamic, the vineyard is becoming more closely tied to organic practices, putting an emphasis on not harming the locale of what lovely things may be living around them. The goal, as stated in their winery pamphlet, is to “find balanced energy within both ourselves and our vineyard”.

Click here to learn more about the wines: Lunessence Winery & Vineyard Wine Profiles


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