Cullen Wines


2017 Kevin John

2017 turned out to be another great season for our vineyards and our 1976 Chardonnay vines produced some incredible fruit.

Very low yields of 3.2 tonne/hectare.

This is a wine defined by great purity, elegance and a fantastic acid backbone: a vintage destined for great ageing potential. The Chardonnay grapes were as usual hand harvested then whole bunch pressed and fermented with wild yeast in different vessels: barriques, amphorae and ceramic egg. It underwent natural malolactic fermentation prior to receiving 5 months of French oak maturation of which 30% was new.

Vintage Notes

2017 Vintage Report

It was a surprise and joy beyond our expectations to experience the 2017 harvest. I think it’s fair to say that it was challenging in both the vineyard and winery, however such conditions have delivered great rewards! Spanning three months, harvest commenced with Cullen Chardonnay on the 8th February, a Moon Opposite Saturn flower day. The last harvests being the Mangan Vineyard Malbec and Petit Verdot, the dates coinciding with the full moon and flower days on the 11th and 12th of April.

It was a classic, traditional wet winter, followed by slightly cooler than average spring and summer temperatures. This allowed for excellent canopy growth, good slow accumulation of flavour and ripeness in the fruit, maintaining well composed acidity, resulting in brilliantly balanced fruit, naturally. Excellent yields across all varieties were equally matched to quality. We were hoping for better quantities of grapes with quality to match and after three years of tiny yields we finally had the quantities we were hoping for.

The 2016-17 growing season, had above average rainfall for the calendar year, 1070mm, up 17% on average, and slightly cooler, below average temperatures for the spring and summer of the 2017 vintage.

Bud-burst dates were on par, however cold and stormy weather in October contributed to a slow start. Fine conditions in November, with below average rainfall and above average temperatures, allowed the growing season to really get going, veraison only slightly delayed.

Above average rainfall for the month of March 2017, with rain falling on over 30% of the days for the month made harvest decisions tricky. However, below average rainfall and fine weather for the month of April supplied a nice finish for the 2017 vintage. We had three moon opposite Saturn events (one each month). I would say that it was a great vintage for all varieties but in particular chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon.
2017 was a vintage of great quality and quantity.

Winemaker Notes

Vineyard: 100% Cullen Vineyard.
Varieties: 100% Chardonnay.
Harvest: From 8th of February to 6th of March. Fruit & Flower days.
Oak: 100% for 5 months in French oak of which 30% was new. A combination of barriques and puncheons were selected for the barrel treatment.
Alcohol: 13.5%

Tasting Notes

Colour: Brilliant pale gold. Cellar: Drink now or cellar with confidence for at least 10 years. Bouquet: Perfumed with notes of pears, white flowers and citrus which are lifted by the barrel ageing. Food: Grilled Hapuka, heirloom cauliflower, grapefruit. Palate: Very fine and already complex, combining Anjou pear, white nectarine and some almond notes. Wonderfully balanced by the natural acid structure


Author: Huon Hooke Publication: The Real Review Score: 96 points

Light, bright yellow hue, with a fresh and yet complex bouquet which is driven by refined fruit aromas, the oak and artifact is very much in the background. The complexities are there but subtle and the wine is still very young and unevolved. Bright acidity is in perfect harmony with the wine; the palate is refined and taut, long and beautifully modulated. Great line and length. A superb chardonnay, which is likely to offer even more if cellared a year or two.

Author: Mike Bennie Publication: The Wine Front Score: 96 points.

“I was lucky enough to get a few hours with Vanya Cullen on her property in mid-October, a fascinating exploration of culture, history, agriculture, spirituality and art, as always. I got a preview of this wine and ran a rule over some of the 2018 barrels alongside. I got to see the two new Vanya cabernet wines too. So many outstanding wines to emerge. The shift to alternative vessels is giving the wines further levity and freshness, it feels. This wine sees about 30% new oak which is joined by both ceramic and amphora-matured chardonnay. The wine is a result of vineyard selection, with fruit sourced from four blocks of chardonnay. Vanya explained that there is no recipe for this wine, however, that it is always done on fruit selection from vine.

Finely wrought wine, lacy and pure, shows incredible acid line and a web of mineral, fruit and light savouriness surrounding. Drives with authority and precision across the palate, feels very pure, energetic and refreshing. An exceptional wine here, you get that from texture alone. Stellar release.”

Previous Releases

  • 2011 Kevin John Magnum

    When this wine was first tasted after it had been in bottle for a while, it was immediately evident that this Chardonnay is destined for a future that will place it in the upper echelon of the Kevin John Chardonnays produced thus far.

    Read more
    View Tasting Notes
  • 2016 Kevin John Magnum

    Another great season for our vineyards and our 1976 Chardonnay vines produced some incredible fruit.

    Read more
    View Tasting Notes