Cullen Wines

Jancis Robinson reviews an array of Cullen Wines, giving the 2016 Diana Madeline 18 points!

Jancis Robinson reviews an array of Cullen Wines, giving the 2016 Diana Madeline 18 points!

CULLEN – by Jancis Robinson

Vanya Cullen nabbed me just before the International Chardonnay Tasting at Cullen to taste my way through her current range. She has been a real pioneer of organic and then biodynamic viticulture in Western Australia. Fermentations have been entirely spontaneous since 2006 (1996 for Chardonnay). The nomenclature of some of her newer bottlings acknowledge the influence of the stars. I like the way she continues to experiment. She was one of the first mainstream wine producers of my acquaintance to make an orange wine. See the second of these wines of the week.

Cullen, Mangan Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Margaret River – Planted 1995–1997. Overnight skin contact. Really quite rich nose – Sancerre plus grassiness. Bone-dry end and very chewy.Drink 2018-2021. 16.5

Cullen, Cullen Vineyard Moon Opposite Saturn Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Margaret River – Planted 1996. More minerally, usually, than Mangan Vineyard so they use a bit more oak. Floral nose. Then dry and wet stony on the end. Absolutely bone dry.Drink 2019-2021. 17

Cullen, Mangan Vineyard Moon Opposite Saturn Harvest Field Blend 2017 Margaret River – Contains some Verdelho. A little sharp and tart at the moment.Drink 2018-2022. 16.5+

Cullen, Mangan Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2017 Margaret River – 57% Sauvignon Blanc, 38% Sémillon, 5% Verdelho. 12% fermented in barrels, of which 45% were new. Cullen bought Mangan in 2016 from Vanya’s brother Rick. Certified biodynamic. Concentrated nose. Gloriously broad and complete.Drink 2017-2021. 17.5

Cullen, Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2010 Margaret River –  Served from magnum with the first course of local produce immediately after the Cullen International Chardonnay Tasting. Pale straw – looks very youthful. But it tastes fully mature with the acidity very definitely descendant. Some old beeswax character. Decidedly mellow.Drink 2012-2017. 16

Cullen, Dancing in the Sun 2017 Margaret River Entry-level blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Verdelho. RS 3-4 g/l. Floral nose and not as dry as the other Cullen whites. Easy but without much persistence.Drink 2017-2018. 15.5

Cullen, Kevin John Chardonnay 2016 Margaret River To be released on what would have been Kevin John Cullen’s 95th birthday, 22 November 2017. 30% aged in oak, the rest in amphora. Some whole bunch. Very intense nose though for the moment not that persistent. Classic, salty, grapefruit-juice nose. Extremely fresh, lively and crisp but by no means anorexic. Chalky finish. Very appetising. Drink 2017-2025. 17.5

Cullen, Amber 2017 Margaret River – 100% Sauvignon Blance. (Amber 2016, 100% Sémillon, is not yet ready.) Very pale amber colour. Vegy, almost cabbagey, on the nose and not obviously a skin-contact wine yet. Drink 2019-2022. 15.5+

Cullen, Amber 2014 Margaret River – Sémillon plus Sauvignon Blanc. Deep amber colour. Broad fan of flavours. Still looking lovely: nutty with astringency in place of acidity. This was a very good choice as a wine of the week! Drink 2015-2018. 17

Cullen, Dancing in the Moonlight Rosé 2017 Margaret River – 37% Merlot, 27% Malbec, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot. Pale rose colour. Off dry and lively with classy, non-facile fruit. A little something to chew on the end.13.6% Drink 2017-2018

Cullen, Mangan Vineyard Merlot/Malbec/Petit Verdot 2016 Margaret River – Entry level. Sappy, fresh with slightly pinched tannins. Drying finish.Drink 2018-2022. 16

Cullen, Mangan East Block 2016 Margaret River – 51% Petit Verdot, 49% Malbec. Bright fruit with a very dry finish.Drink 2018-2024. 16+

Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2016 Margaret River – Very warm and friendly. Beautifully balanced with admirable freshness. Very bright fruit. The perfect wine to come home to. Drink 2017-2028. 17

Cullen, Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Margaret River – Spicy, intense with a polished texture and some balsam notes. Not nearly ready. Put it away! Drink 2022-2038. 18

Cullen, Vanya Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Margaret River – From the best selection of Cabernet, picked at full moon, all aged three months in amphora. They may make amphorae from their own clay. Just 140 dozen of this vintage made. 2012 was the debut vintage.
Focused and polished and very sleek. Lovely texture – not pinched. Drink 2017-2027. 17

Cullen, Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Margaret River Magnum. Sumptuous nose. Very heady yet not overdone. This is all about texture and subtle nuance – cashmere tannins? – rather than fruit. Very mellow, sweet and round. Drink 2011-2025. 18

Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon 1978 Margaret River – From a bottle that had been opened and almost drained 24 hours earlier! Rich and ripe but still fresh with a certain earthiness. A very good bottle, according to Vanya. Drink 1988-2020. 18

Cullen, Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2017 Margaret River -Planted 1976! Sweet apple juice. Clean and fresh. Serve with apple tart. Naturally stopped fermenting at this medium level of sweetness. More than a hint of the Loire. 8% Drink 2017-2018. 16