Once again, one of Australia’s great white wines gets the jump on the release of its flagship sister wine, Diana Madeline. Vanya Cullen’s 2016 Kevin John has long proven its pedigree. The vines turned 40 last year, and the 2015 release marked the 10-year milestone since the wine was renamed in honour of Vanya’s father. An unbroken seam of outstanding releases has confirmed its place among the Chardonnay aristocracy – and indeed the wine itself announces its class as soon as you look at it. “Wastes no time in asserting its blue blood ancestry,” is how James Halliday put it when writing up the ’15.
But what good is reverence without joy? Vanya’s got that covered. “A thing of sheer beauty, it left me completely transfixed,” said Tyson Stelzer of the previous release, while Gary Walsh of The Wine Front proclaimed: “It’s a beautiful thing. Power with grace.” Walsh’s cohort Campbell Mattinson was first out of the gate with a review of this new-release 2016, and we’ll let his words speak for themselves.
So it is with pleasure that we present the fruit – the glowing, pristine, biodynamic fruit – of the Cullen Vineyard and its assiduously devoted custodian.
2016 Cullen Kevin John RRP $135
It evokes a certain reverence. I don’t mean by the label, or the status, but by the taste of it in the glass. It’s such a gorgeous thing; nothing quite beguiles like the fruits of nature. Peaches, rich with sunshine; grapefruit, all pulp and gravity; the cool of lime; the flush of sweet spices; a beach littered with nuts and sweet biscuits and flint. It’s Margaret River Chardonnay and it never shies from it; why would it? It’s flavoursome. It’s silky and succulent, sunny, seductive. You just kind of swoon your way from one glass to the next. Quality is prime. 96 points. Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
Another great season for our vineyards and our 1976 Chardonnay vines produced some incredible fruit. Very low yields of 2.16 tonne/hectare. This is a wine of great purity and vitality. The Chardonnay grapes were as usual hand harvested from 40-year-old vines. They were then whole bunch pressed and fermented with wild yeast in barriques. The wine underwent natural malolactic fermentation prior to receiving 10 months of oak maturation. – Vanya Cullen
Vineyard: 100% Cullen
Varieties: 100% Chardonnay
Harvest: 27th & 28th January, 6th & 7th February; fruit days
Oak: 10 months in French oak, of which 31% was new
Colour: Brilliant pale gold.
Bouquet: Perfumed with notes of nectarine, white flowers and citrus, which are enhanced by the barrel ageing.
Palate: Multi-layered and already complex, combining white peach, nectarine and some creamy notes. Wonderfully balanced by the savoury minerality.
OTHER NEW RELEASES FROM VANYA CULLEN
2016 Cullen Mangan Vineyard Semillon Sauvignon Blanc RRP $32
57% Sauvignon Blanc, 38% Semillon, 5% Verdelho, 12% fermented and matured in oak (45% new). As ever, fresh, lively and highly expressive, fruit doing all the talking; all sorts of citrus on the bouquet and palate, with lemongrass, gooseberry and precisely judged acidity. 95 points. James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2018
2015 Cullen Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon RRP $34
A 74/26% blend fermented and matured in new French oak for 5 months. The complex bouquet brings toasty oak, cut grass and hints of stone fruit (also lurking in the Mangan SBS)into play, the palate pulling out all the stops with its mix of tropical fruits and citrussy acidity. 96 points. James Halliday, Wine Companion
2016 Mangan ‘East Block’ Petit Verdot/Malbec RRP $48
51% Petit Verdot and 49% Malbec from the Mangan vineyard, this spends seven months in new and seasoned French oak. The 2016 Mangan East Block is beautiful, vibrant medium ruby in colour. The nose shows violets, red plum, blackcurrant, graphite and liquorice. Medium bodied with plenty of fine tannin running through, giving a fine-grained texture to the transparent fruit. It finishes with a sense of salty plum and cocoa powder. A hugely elegant wine of notable class and purity.