“This wine hit me, straight off the bat…. Hit me for six.” So wrote Gary Walsh of The Wine Front of the way Vanya Cullen smote him out the park with the brilliance of her 2015 Diana Madeline. It says a lot that a wine with this kind of form can still strike like a bolt from the blue. After all, the previous three vintages rated by James Halliday all scored 98 points.
That Vanya has the vineyard firing on all biodynamically-powered cylinders is clear. It’s taken tremendous effort from the Cullen family to coax nature into this kind of harmony, and this is the result. The natural purity and intensity of the fruit, vintage after vintage, is a given. Likewise take as read the wine’s breathtaking texture and structure. Looks so easy, tastes so good. Prepare to be smitten again.
2015 Cullen Diana Madeline RRP $135
The growing season for 2015 Diana Madeline was favourable with good spring rains and a warm, dry ripening period. Low yields of 2.47 tons per hectare produced a concentrated elegant wine, bright in colour, pure in fruit flavour concentration, with the classic Cullen Vineyard Wilyabrup cassis, violets, chocolate and ironstone. – Vanya Cullen
Colour: Deep crimson hues with magenta edges.
Bouquet: Fantastic complexity and vitality, with layers of well-ripened dark fruits enhanced by gorgeous leafy notes.
Palate: Structured and fruit driven, the palate delivers blackcurrant fruit and lovely spicy nuances supported by fine-grained tannins. There is a brilliant touch of bitterness melting into the fruit. A wine to watch as it unfolds and evolves over the next decades.
Cellar: Can be cellared with confidence for at least 10 years.
It is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 1% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc. 100% from the Cullen Vineyard, harvested by hand between 24th February and 7th March. The primary fermentation took an average 12 days. An average of 22 days on skins. Aged for 17 months in barriques, of which 66% were new.
Violet and subtle leafy perfume, pure black and red fruit, baking spices, aniseed and mocha. Medium bodied, the precision here, the generous delivery of flavour trimmed of excess, seems like the work of the truly gifted: how do you make it look so easy? Sculptured tannin, ribbons of clear acidity, and length that soars. Truly, a masterpiece of Australian Cabernet. 98 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front March 2017
2015 Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay RRP $125
It’s a full golden colour, and the rich theme continues. Pear, sweet spices, ripe lime, fennel and biscuits. Medium bodied, full flavour, oxidative nutty character adds interest and complexity, acidity is flinty and composed, ginger and cinnamon spice studded pear tastiness, and a very long gently powdery, tangerine laced finish. It’s a beautiful thing. Power with grace. 96 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front February 2017
2014 Cullen Diana Madeline RRP $135
89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot and 2% each of Malbec and Cabernet Franc blended after fermentation, hand-picked and sorted, destemmed (66% whole berries), wild-fermented in stainless steel, average 23 days on skins, matured in French oak (69% new) for 18 months. Right in the slot of the style established (with some polishing and refining) over the years. The complexity of the texture and structure is second to none, led by the born to rule cabernet, the other varieties obviously of minor importance, but important nonetheless. The might of the tannins is the key to this great wine. 98 points. James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2017