The Kevin John Legacy Series
Introducing our Kevin John Legacy Series Chardonnay – By Vanya Cullen
The philosophy at Cullen Wines is to always be trying to make better quality wine.
Cullen Wines decided to rename the 2006 vintage chardonnay in Dr Kevin John’s honour and it became known as the Kevin John.
This new series of chardonnays is a continuation of the legacy of the great Doctor and is presented here in four wines which are created around experiments with the biodynamic calendar … harvesting dates and also biodynamic barrel comparisons. Three of the wines are also unfined and unfiltered being bottled straight from barrel.
The collection comprises four wines;
2014 Flower Day Chardonnay Moon Opposite Saturn Harvest
2014 Fruit Barrel Chardonnay
2014 Flower Barrel Chardonnay
These wines showcase something very special for Cullen Wines. As biodynamic winemakers, we are very excited about what they represent through a new dimension of biodynamic viticulture.
The differences between these wines are as extraordinary as they are remarkable. We invite you, through the Kevin John Legacy Series, to come on an exciting journey with us.
We have always known the potential for producing exceptional Chardonnay in Wilyabrup. My parents, the late Dr Kevin John Cullen and Diana Madeline Cullen, planted our initial Chardonnay vines in 1976, but as early as 1967, had sought the first cuttings available for the area, such was their passion and belief in the future success of the variety. At the time, drinking styles were more skewed to reds, but increased demand for our whites soon meant a further 4.67 hectares of Chardonnay were planted, giving us a total of 7.47 hectares, which we still lovingly maintain today.
Kevin John loved Chardonnay. He believed that Wilyabrup was capable of producing Chardonnay that would rival some of France’s best. To that end, he established the ‘Cullen Wines Great International Chardonnay Tasting’ where he brought together friends and Chardonnays from all over the world to help compare and perfect Margaret River produce. He and my mother Di were always generous with their time and knowledge and wanted the whole region to prosper and grow. We are proud to say the Annual Cullen Chardonnay Tasting still continues today and last year celebrated its 30th anniversary.
Our flagship Cullen Chardonnay was renamed the Kevin John Chardonnay in his honour in 2006 and shortened to just the Kevin John with the 2013 vintage released last year. It is a fitting twin to our other flagship wine, the much admired Diana Madeline, named in honour of my mother.
We are delighted to present the very special addition of the Kevin John Legacy Series. These rare wines represent several very significant aspects of Cullen Wines; the extraordinary journey biodynamics can take us on in wine making, the constant aspiration we have in pushing our winemaking skills and of course, my father’s passion that I share to showcase Wilyabrup as a region that is perfect for producing world class Chardonnay.
These four wines use grapes grown on the same land, in the same dedicated biodynamic practices and then take them on individual journeys to arrive at four very different destinations. They are picked on different days according to the biodynamic calendar and fermented in different barrels; barrels that themselves were made from trees harvested on different days according to the biodynamic calendar.
It is an unusual approach, but not a unique one. We wanted to present to you the most cutting edge wines in biodynamic profile we could make. That is, utilising biodynamic barrels, no filtration, bottling straight from the barrel and harvesting on what we have learnt are positive days for biodynamic wine work. Rather than just us telling you about the world of biodynamics, we want you to taste it in these wines and truly experience it for yourselves, sharing the adventure with us.
The principle of biodynamics follows the ebb and the flow of the seasons and the cosmos. It works by nurturing the soil and creating a holistic approach which at its core is to encourage microbiological life in the soil and treat the environment as a living, breathing system working in harmony.
The herbs, plant based natural preparations and biodynamic composts we use are all created on our own farm to help create individuality and a sense of place and respect for the ancient soil here at Wilyabrup. This gives our wine its true terroir; the French term referring to the individual character of the wine that it’s natural, nurtured environment gives it.
The biodynamic calendar that we follow is based on the Brian Keats Antipodean Astro Calendar, which corresponds with rhythms of the Earth and moon in the southern hemisphere and includes days such as flower days, fruit days, root days and leaf days which emphasise the ideal times to maintain, move and care for the vines and their fruit.
Even from the first trial plantings that Kevin and Di started in 1966, they had a sense of maintaining the natural Wilyabrup environment and having minimum intervention. My father, tellingly, commenced the Busselton Health Study in 1966 and saw the impact that chemicals could have on people’s heath; particularly with the potato farmers and the effect on their health of the insecticide dieldrin, which is now widely banned. He understood the damage that can be done by introducing dangerous chemicals.
We moved to organic farming in 1998 and to a fully certified biodynamic winery in 2003. The Earth responded well and rewarded us with exceptional wines bursting with the flavour of the land. In 2013 we began experimenting with biodynamic oak trials. We have known for years that the barrel oak contributes to the journey of the wine. The barrel wood selected, like the grapes, begin as living things, so we thought why can’t we also influence the properties of the wood by also growing and harvesting them according to the biodynamic calendar?
We have been very impressed with the trials and the characters that these beautiful barrels give to the chardonnay. It is such an exciting way for us to explore biodynamic influences even further and continue our aim of undertaking projects to make better quality and more interesting wines sustainably.
So many people ask about the fascinating mechanisms of biodynamics and these wines are the perfect way to share the ways the art, science and passion of biodynamics can influence flavours.
I hope you enjoy the final step in our journey by trying these wines for yourselves and of course sharing with friends. I would love to hear your feedback and comments and on these wines that we are very proud to present for your enjoyment.
Chief Winemaker and Managing Director, Cullen Wines
See Huon Hooke’s review here