PnP Panel Tasting: Culmina Spring Releases, Part 2 – Funky Whites Edition

12 06 2019

By Peter Vetsch

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

The last set of Culmina releases featured on PnP was so fun to taste that I felt compelled to bring in the band to share the joy of this next group, a trio of weird, wild, semi-experimental whites that are seeking to test boundaries both within and outside of the winery.  Fellow PnPers Ray Lamontagne and Tyler Derksen gathered with me to taste through a lineup that included my own personal Culmina obsession, the incredible Unicus Gruner Veltliner, as well as two even more envelope-pushing whites from Culmina’s recently unveiled small-production Number Series.  Things got fun fast.


The Number Series was introduced in late 2016 as a way for Culmina’s talented winemaking team to spread its wings a bit.  Part Reserve-level offering and part experimental test drive, each Number Series wine is a limited-production rarity that may only see a single run, never to be repeated again in subsequent vintages.  It represents the best of Culmina’s developmental efforts from that year, either showcasing a standard-rotation Culmina grape in a whole new way (like the inaugural Number Series Wine No. 001, a rich, ripe Riesling styled like an Alsatian Grand Cru) or braving the unknown with a varietal that isn’t part of Culmina’s normal lineup.  The two most recent Number Series bottles below both fall into the latter camp, and show off some intriguing winemaking approaches to boot.

As with all our Panel Tastings, while we discussed the wines as we were tasting them, we came up with our own impressions and our own scores for each bottle and did not share them until everyone’s assessment was complete.  We started, as every meal and tasting and day on this Earth should, with Unicus. Read the rest of this entry »


FLX: Finger Lakes Extravaganza – Part II

23 05 2016

In case you missed the previous chapters of this tale, check out the Intro & Conclusions from my Finger Lakes trip here and Part I of the tasting journey here.


August Deimel, Keuka Spring Vineyards

After leaving the western shores of Keuka Lake and the bar-setting wines of Dr. Konstantin Frank, we did a loop around the lake and landed at our only other Keuka stop, the aptly named Keuka Spring Vineyards.  If Dr. Frank was a reverential nod to the Finger Lakes’ past, Keuka Spring was a thrilling glimpse at its future, primarily thanks to its young, supremely talented and boundary-pushing winemaker August Deimel.  We were fortunate enough to have him lead us through a tasting of both current releases in the front of the house and experimental tank samples in the back, throughout which the only sound other than August’s compelling narrative was that of paradigms shifting. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Review: 2010 Dirty Laundry “Madam’s Vines” Gewurztraminer

16 09 2011

The folks at Dirty Laundry are marketing geniuses.

I love the sign at the bottom right that says "Scenic Outlook: That Way". "Really?! Where?"

They have their own unique story — namely, that the current site of the winery used to be home to a laundromat that illicitly doubled as a brothel during the Gold Rush era — and they stick to it with rigorous discipline in absolutely everything they do, from their wine names to their label art, winery decor to gift shop souvenirs (yes, there’s a gift shop).  All of their production and sales efforts are relentlessly to brand, and the secretly naughty tale of the brand generates a lot of interest; before my recent trip to the Okanagan, DL was one of the places I was told I absolutely had to see.  So one day we ventured out to Summerland, a half hour southwest of Kelowna, and drove up (and up, and up) a series of winding backcountry roads until we found it, high up in the hills above the town overlooking the Lake.  We were treated to a thoroughly modern tasting room, with a brand new gorgeous outdoor patio (complete with giant clothespins and lingerie gently swaying in the breeze) and an amazing view of the surrounding area.  However, amidst all the winks to its shady past and seamless self-promotion, Dirty Laundry got slack about one thing:  the wine. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Review: 2009 Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer (Alsace)

25 08 2011

Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer -- most Teutonic non-German producer/grape combo ever?

Two points of order before I start.  First, PnP cleared 6,000 hits sometime this afternoon — thanks again for your continued support of this site!  Second, this is post #95 for Pop & Pour, which means you have five more posts to cast your vote for the wine I should review for the PnP 100th Post Celebration Gala (n0te:  no actual Gala will be organized).  Click here to go to the poll and vote for your favourite; if you’ve already voted, vote again!  Currently it’s a dead heat between the 2008 Caymus Napa Cab and the 2006 Gaja Brunello, so help me break the tie…there has to be a defined winner before the 100th post review can take place.

Now, to tonight, and Gewurztraminer.  To me Gewurz is the ultimate love/hate grape:  most people either adore its bold, assertive, unique flavours and rich texture or they despise its lushness, its spiciness, its high alcohol and almost suffocating intensity.  There aren’t too many in between (although, strangely, I’m one of them, which might cast some doubt on my theory); a grape this individual almost forces you to take sides.  It’s not a casual patio sipper or a light crisp refresher that pairs with a ton of foods, and it doesn’t really resemble any of the more well-known varietals like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, so there’s no real way to ease into it.  What it is is a high-octane, enormously-perfumed flavour powerhouse that can be both entrancing and overwhelming. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Review: 2003 Domaine Weinbach Cuvee Laurence Gewurztraminer Furstentum Grand Cru (375 mL)

1 05 2011

Grand Cru, baby. That's how we roll.

I don’t usually buy wines and then drink them immediately, but I couldn’t bring myself to wait on this one.  I was in Aspen Wine & Spirits yesterday to see what was on special when I noticed these half-bottles of back-vintage Alsatian Grand Cru Gewurztraminer selling for $28.  Like many other older wines available at AW&S, these used to be inventory of another wine store that went under a little while ago; as these library wines near their peak drinking window and the urgency to sell them increases, their prices drop accordingly.  I was told that the $28 selling price for the Weinbach was close to the store’s cost and that these half-bottles usually run around the $50 mark at normal retail prices.  I bought one about 0.02 seconds later. Read the rest of this entry »

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