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A Holiday Bottle for Someone with Taste and Patience

Give this beautiful red to someone who can resist opening it right away—a five-year wait will make it even better.

Culmina 2011 $48

People often ask me about good bottles for “laying down”, meaning what’s out there in the market that would get better with a few years under it’s belt. The easy answer is Bordeaux, which for a few centuries has been the gold standard for wine that develops in the bottle into something extraordinary. In marked contrast, our wine industry is but a blip on the radar in terms of age—we’ve been making wine a relatively short time and of that wine only a small portion is age-worthy. But that’s changing: pioneers like Blue Mountain and Mission Hill have now been producing age-worthy wine for more than decade and the results are clear—they age wonderfully.

The age-worthy group is still relatively small: Laughing Stock’s Portfolio recently had a 10 year retrospective which was a testament to that’s wine ageability; Black Hill’s Nota Bene shows well; Osoyoos Larose is built for the long haul and I found a bottle of Nichol Syrah 2006 on the menu at the Wickaninnish Inn last year that was still singing. There are more of course but it’s still a select group, although the ranks have swelled by one with the arrival of Don Triggs’ Culmina 2 years ago. In answer to your first question—yes that Triggs, but this new venture has little in common with his last one (were his Jackson-Triggs remade the Canadian wine industry as we know it). I think it’s fair to say Culmina is the most techincally advanced winery in Canada and it’s singular goal is to produce wines of character, terroir…and ageability. The standard bearer of this effort is Hypothesis, a small-production blend that’s a Cabernet Franc heavy blend that has notes of St Emilion, a great representation of what the Okanagan can do when they make a concerted effort at a Bordeaux style-blend. I’ve tried the first two vintages and been deeply impressed—the wine, as they say, has grip, which means it has a tannic structure that’s built for some time in the cellar. I haven’t spoken much about the wine because until now it was only available at the winery of through a Bryzantine ordering system, but that just changed with a limited amount that just been placed in 26 signature BCLDB stores. At $48 it’s on the high end of BC wine but if you tour the high-tech winery it seems something of a bargain—if you tour the Bordeaux section of the liquor store it seems a definite bargain.

It’s drinkable right now, but it’s pretty tight. I’d give it a hard decant for 2-3 hours to let it limber up. But ideally I’d give it 5 years in your cellar.

 

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