VanWineFest 2017 – A Culmination of Flavours Dinner

Don, Elaine, and Sara Triggs at Culmina

Don, Elaine, and Sara Triggs at Culmina

Culmina Family Estate Winery is owned and run by Don and Elaine Triggs, and their daughter Sara.  An Okanagan winery located on the Golden Mile Bench.  Don Triggs’ is known for co-founding the Jackson Triggs Winery that we have here in the Okanagan.  But sometimes small is beautiful, and artistry in wine is what you desire, so enter Culmina.  They began their winery in 2007 with the objective to make the highest quality wines possible from their own estate vines.  They undertook detailed studies of their vineyard, subdividing it into 43 micro-blocks being planted on 3 distinct benches.  Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are grown in the vineyard.

Culmina’s “Culmination of Flavours” Dinner was held at Ancora Waterfront Dining located at the south end of the downtown core, under the creative eye of Chef Ricardo Valverde who blends Asian and Peruvian flavours together.  This dinner was held as part of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, supporting Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.

Following are a few of my notes on the wines from Culmina and the food pairings from Ancora.  Enjoy.


Culmina Decora 2015

Culmina Decora 2015

Selection of Sushi and Sashimi
Paired with Culmina Decora 2015

Starting off the dinner we walked about and ate a selection of sushi and sashimi, and sipped Culmina’s Decora 2015, made from the Riesling grape.  Lemon and flower aromas on the nose, with stone fruit and racy acidity on the palate for this delightful wine. 4.5 out of 5 stars

First Course

BC Steelhead Trout Causa, with puffed nori, smoked turnip, and scallop emulsion
Paired with Culmina Unicus 2014 and 2015

I enjoyed this dish, served cold.  The trout was cooked soft.  I liked the creamy mashed potato served with it and the spiciness of the smoked turnip, which tasted very much like wasabi.  There was also some acidity that I noted in the dish.

Squid ink Dungeness Crab Tortellini at Ancora

Squid ink Dungeness Crab Tortellini at Ancora

The two Unicus wines come from the Gruner Veltliner grape; a grape native to Austria.  The Unicus 2014 (4 out of 5 stars) had a mineral and stone fruit nose. Dry, with high acidity and medium body; roundish mouth feel.  Quite a lot of citrus flavour and grapefruit rind.  Finishes with honey. As the wine was exposed to air, there was a hint of petrol on the nose and palate, and the wine became peppery.  The Unicus 2015 was deeper straw in colour.  Flowers, sweet spice and ripe yellow fruit aromas.  Medium plus body, round, off-dry.  Green fruit and hints of mineral.  Tart acidity but less than the 2014 vintage. Some bitterness and honey on the finish. Again with air, this wine changed, showing more ripe stone fruit and honey, and pepperiness again. 4.5 out of 5 stars

The pairing with the Unicus 2014 was better than the 2015 in my opinion.  It was more complementary. You get the fruit and sweetness in the wine melding with the trout.  The 2015 had stronger flavour and overpowered this dish, but the acidity in the wine did match up the acidity in the dish cleansing your palate after finishing each bite.

Second Course

Squid Ink Dungeness Crab Tortellini with Culmina Dilemma 2014 at Ancora

Squid Ink Dungeness Crab Tortellini with Culmina Dilemma 2014 at Ancora

Squid Ink Dungeness Crab Tortellini, with parsley, gremolata, apple, parmesan, and piccata sauce
Paired with Culmina Dilemma 2014

This was an interesting dish.  You get a mix of flavours and textures.  The crab flavour was quite mild, and combined with it, you get green citrus from the gremolata, sweetness from the apple,and creaminess from the buttery piccata sauce.

The Culmina Dilemma 2014 is a Chardonnay that has undergone partial malolactic fermentation with a portion of the wine spending 9 months in barrel, either new or 1-year-old French oak.  The wine was medium gold in colour.  Full intensity nose with ripe tropical fruit, butter and oak.  Fuller bodied, dry with a medium mouth feel.  Sweet tropical fruit and butter. It is a big wine. 4.5 out of 5 stars

The pairing was complementary to this dish. The dish brought out the apples in the dish and the butteriness in the wine.

Third Course

Panca glazed Sablefish paired with Culmina 2014 Cabernet Franc at Ancora

Panca glazed Sablefish paired with Culmina 2014 Cabernet Franc at Ancora

Panca Glazed Sablefish, with charred eggplant, marinated broccoli, salsa of tomatillo and pineapple
Paired with Culmina 2014 Cabernet Franc

Crunchy, sweet, smoky, caramel flavours and textures are overlaid on the soft, delicate sablefish on our plate.

Our wine for this pairing is the Culmina Cabernet Franc 2014, which is the first vintage of this wine.  What an honour for all of us at the dinner.  The wine was opaque ruby in colour. Cedar, violets, nutmeg and red currant aromas.  Full body, yet light mouth feel.  Dry with a mix of minerality and pepperiness.  Ripe red fruit flavours, and dusty tannins. 4 out of 5 stars

The sablefish dish was very nice with the Cabernet Franc. You get floral, vanilla and ripe fruit flavours from the wine and the soft, delicate texture from the fish.

Fourth Course

Braised Short Rib paired with Culmina 2012 and 2013 Hypothesis at Ancora

Braised Short Rib paired with Culmina 2012 and 2013 Hypothesis at Ancora

Braised Short Rib, with 10 year aged cheddar celeriac puree, spinach puree, house bacon, and pickled cipollini
Paired with Culmina 2012 and 2013 Hypothesis

I always look forward to braised short rib; this one was rich and fatty.

There were two vintages of Hypothesis to try with this food; 2012 and 2013.  Hypothesis is a red Bordeaux blend.  Culmina Hypothesis 2012 is a blend of 57% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 19% Cabernet Franc.  It has blackberries and oak aromas on the nose.  Full bodied, dry, with quite a round mouth feel. Blackberries, nutmeg and oak, with floral on the mid palate.  Firm, fine tannins on the finish. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Culmina Hypothesis 2013 was a warmer vintage than 2012 and it shows with more dark fruit aromas and flavours.  The blend is 38% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Franc, and 26% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine has a mix of dark fruit and chocolate on the nose.  Full bodied, dry with a lighter mouth feel.  Allspice, minerality, dark fruit, and pepper flavours.  Dark chocolate on the finish. 4 out of 5 stars

Although I liked the 2012 vintage more on its own, I preferred the 2013 with the braised short rib.  The tannins in the wine meshed with the protein in the meat.  I also liked the flavour of the smoky bacon in this dish with the wine.

Fifth Course

Gruyere cheesecake paired with Culmina 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon at Ancora

Gruyere cheesecake paired with Culmina 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon at Ancora

Gruyere cheesecake, red onion jam, and candied rosemary
Paired with Culmina 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

The Gruyere cheesecake was a savory dessert to end our meal.  Beautifully presented, the onion flavour really comes through the creamy Gruyere cheese, and the rosemary was there, presenting itself on the finish of each bite.

The Culmina Cabernet 2014 was also a first release to the public.  We were doubly lucky this day.  This is a really excellent wine that I think will age very well over the next 4-6 years.  It is opaque garnet in colour.  Medium intensity ripe cassis, with a whiff of nutmeg on the nose.  Medium plus body, dry, with lots of nutmeg and ripe cassis.  A mix of minerality and pepperiness also.  Fine tannins.  Medium plus length. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Ancora Dining for the wonderful food and for the Triggs’ family to bring their Culmina wines for us to enjoy.


Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.