This Bottle Has Transformed Wine in the Okanagan
When a legendary figure takes a chance on an obscure grape, magic can happen.
Culmina Unicus 2017 $27
We tend to think of game-changing bottles in purely historical terms: Bob and Senka Tennant creating Nota Bene in 1999, or Harry McWatters planting 115 acres of mostly red grapes on the Black Sage Bench in the 1980s. But as Culmina gets ready to celebrate its 5th Birthday, it’s caused me to recollect on the history that Don, Elaine and Sara Triggs have made in a relatively short period of time. Their Hypothesis joined the gold standard of Bordeaux blends right out of the gate and they planted a high altitude vineyard and grew brilliant Riesling far south of where anyone thought possible. But it’s this bottle of Gruner Veltliner, named Unicus, that sticks with me for its impact.
The Triggs weren’t the first to bring the relatively obscure (but beloved by wine nerds) Austrian-grape to BC—De Vine Cellars in Saanich planted some in 2008—but the release of this wine in 2013 was what brought the grape’s potential in our climate to a broad audience. Industry folk were naturally excited by the experiment and it was a wine that quickly caught the attention of sommeliers who, in turn, chatted up the wine’s citrus meets spice meets savoury characteristics and quickly won legions of converts among their customers. It’s one of those wines that’s equal parts interesting and delicious, loved by wine geeks and the general public alike.
And other wineries took note of the grape’s potential: The Hatch in Kelowna, Bordertown in Osoyoos, Pipe Dreams in Oliver and even powerhouse Summerhill all came out with bottles. I recently had a bottle of Singletree’s Gruner, which, at $17.30, wins my prize for being the best-priced, most interesting wine in BC.
But in the end there’s Unicus, the O.G of G.V in B.C. and that’s what I’m going to pour a glass of this week and toast the Triggs success and chutzpah, in equal parts.