The event was the brainchild of Dr Kevin Cullen, who along with his wife Diana Cullen founded Cullen Wines in 1971. The concept was to have a way in which local winemakers in Margaret River could constantly compare their locally produced Chardonnay to the best the rest of the world had to offer, in the constant pursuit of perfection.
The result 31 years later is an event that draws wine lovers, reviewers, sommeliers and winemakers from around Australia. Guests are invited to score the unmarked tastings based on their colour, clarity, nose and of course overall taste.
This year saw eleven Australian wineries featured (six from Margaret River), three from the US, five from France and two from New Zealand, which gave an incredible variety of terroirs for comparison. The wines were divided into three brackets of seven tasting, with each bracket punctuated by comments from guest wine reviewers, including wine reviewer Ray Jordan, Victorian sommeliers Nick Carne (Cumulus, Melbourne) and Mattia Cianca (Attica, Melbourne), up and coming WA wine reviewer Erin Larkin and popular local wine writer and merchant Jon Jens.
‘The proportion of awards WA wineries are winning right now is staggering,’ Jon Jens said in his speech, where he also mentioned the 2012 ‘Vanya’, noting it was the highest rated WA wine by international reviewer e Robert Parker, which drew a resounding round of applause from the appreciative crowd.
The three rounds of Chardonnay tastings concluded with Vanya Cullen announcing the wineries and regions to the crowd, which was then followed by a sensational meal prepared by Cullen Executive Chef Iain Robertson and the team, all prepared to complement Cullen Wines served during the five course meal.
‘The Annual Chardonnay Tasting is such an exciting event, each and every year,’ said Vanya Cullen, Chief Winemaker and Managing Director of Cullen Wines. ‘It’s something we look forward to because it’s as exciting as it is educational; we all enjoy seeing how each vintage compares, and we love to welcome back old friends and meet new ones every year.’