- Tasting Notes & Technical Details
Cullen Wines is a certified biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered estate, with a philosophy summed up in three simple words: ‘Quality, Integrity and Sustainability’. Having celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2021, it is one of the oldest and most awarded family wineries in Western Australia’s famous Margaret River region. First established in 1971 by Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen, the winery has built an outstanding reputation for biodynamic wines that receive great acclaim.
Di and Kevin’s youngest daughter Vanya, who has worked at the winery since 1983, became Chief Winemaker in 1989 and Managing Director in 1999. She has worked tirelessly to develop the winery over this time, first introducing organic farming in 1998 and then, in 2004, saw it classified as a fully certified biodynamic estate. In 2000, she was named the Qantas/The Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year, becoming the first Western Australian, and the first woman, to do so. In 2019, celebrating 30 years at the helm, Vanya received double Winemaker of the Year honours at both the Australian Women in Wine Awards and the Halliday Wine Companion Awards. James Halliday, Australia’s best-known critic, said, “Her commitment to improving Cullen Wines while leaving the world a better place is reflected in the winery’s carbon-neutral and naturally powered status.” This commitment was further recognised by Vanya being awarded James Halliday’s inaugural Viticulturalist of the Year award, with Tyson Stelzer noting “Vanya Cullen possesses a deeply emotional connection with her vines and her land like nobody else.”
All wines produced here are sourced from grapes grown on the Cullen and adjoining Mangan Vineyards in Wilyabrup, a sub-region of Margaret River. In order to promote this part of Margaret River, Vanya Cullen has decided to specify Wilyabrup on the Cullen label. Both Cullen sites are certified biodynamic and the wines are made with no additions of yeast, acid or tannins.
Cullen’s flagship wines, the ‘Diana Madeline’ Cabernet Sauvignon and the ‘Kevin John’ Chardonnay, are among the very best of their styles in Australia and beyond. The ‘Grace Madeleine’ Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon is made from hand-picked fruit exclusively from the Cullen Vineyard. Three quarters of the wine is aged in new French oak for five months, adding complexity and depth. The ‘Mangan Vineyard’ Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon and the ‘Red Moon’ Malbec/Petit Verdot/Merlot, are fruit-driven wines that express the site on which the grapes are grown. The ‘Mangan East Block’ is a blend of Malbec and Petit Verdot from fruit grown on the prime eastern corner of the vineyard. It is opulent, vibrant and beautifully balanced. Fermented on its skins in various vessels including amphora, the ‘Amber’ is a complex, textural Sauvignon Blanc. The Late Harvest Chenin Blanc has aromas of honeysuckle and papaya with a silky texture and refreshing finish on the palate.
The Mangan vineyard is located adjacent to the Cullen vineyard in Wilyabrup. On the 'East Block' section of the vineyard, the Malbec is deeply rooted and has Scott Henry trellising, giving better exposure and better quality fruit. The Petit Verdot component is planted on forest grove which is gravelly soil and produces low yields and intense fruit.
2020 was defined by dry conditions from the onset of budburst through to harvest. A lower than average rainfall in 2019, and hot dry weather conditions in January, February and March made for near-drought conditions for harvest 2020. Bunch numbers were average, but low berry weights due to the dry conditions produced very low yields, resulting in balanced and delicate wines.
The grapes were hand harvested at the end of February. Once at the winery, the fruit was destemmed and macerated on skins for 18 days. Subsequently, the juice was pressed and transferred to 50% new French oak barrels, where it aged for eight months prior to bottling. There was minimal intervention during the vinification process, in order to accentuate the key varietal fruit character of the grapes.
This wine is deep mulberry in colour and the nose displays intense aromas of blackberry, tar, rose and plum. The palate is full of berry fruits combined with nuances of chocolate, dried plums, rose, saffron and thyme. A medium-bodied wine with fresh tannins and a luxurious finish.