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Latest releases from Cullen Estate

The release of Cullen's 2021 vintage marked 50 years of winemaking at this famous Wilyabrup estate, in Western Australia's Margaret River.  Cullen was founded by Diana and Dr Kevin Cullen, but their daughter Vanya took over winemaking in 1983 and is practically synonymous with the estate. 

Vanya named her two most prestigious wines after her mum and dad, and it is these that we offer to you today: 2021 Diana Madeline, scores 96+ points from The Wine Advocate, and 2022 Kevin John Chardonnay scores 97+! The two vintages also coincide with what would have been the 100th birthdays of their namesakes.  Vanya is one of the world's great winemakers and the fact that she has chosen to name these wines after her mum and dad points to the care and love that goes into the winemaking.

2021 'Diana Madeline' is a Bordeaux blend.  Vanya's mother helped plant Cullen's first rows of Cabernet Sauvignon herself, in 1971.  The final blend of the 2021 is 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec.  The wine is aged for 15 months in 50% new oak puncheons, of around 500 litres. 

The 2021 growing season was marked by heavy rain and wildlife pressure (birds). Harvest was impacted by staff restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic. The lower yields ensured that the fruit was picked at optimum ripeness. The grapes for this wine were hand harvested on the biodynamic fruit and flower days across 5 picks from the middle of March to a super Moon Flower day two weeks later, including, according to Cullen, "a Moon opposite Saturn fruit day harvest"!  

Tasting the 2021, we found it beautifully balanced, with the kind of elegant, polished tannins we would expect from the better cru classé estates and a fine line of minerality running through it.  At just 13.5% abv, only the ripeness of the fruit points obviously to the wine's origin.  It's delicious now, but can also see it drinking well far beyond 2039, the window given by The Wine Advocate's Erin Larkin.

The 2022 Kevin John Chardonnay was harvested from 3 separate blocks of ungrafted chardonnay vines, planted in 1976 and 1988.  Hand Harvested around the biodynamic calendar over 8 different harvest times across February, the grapes were fermented in 50% new oak puncheons, then left to mature for a further 6 months. 

The chardonnay saw some battonage during fermentation, which comes through on the palate as a nutty richness, balanced by a streak of lime-like acidity and salinity that impressed us enormously.  The abv is again 13.5%, so the impression of power and intensity here is all from the flavour and structure of the wine.  Despite this power, it still has a freshness and energy, which we attribute to the use of biodynamic principals in the vineyard and winery.  

These wines are usually found on lists in rarified restaurants and are highly sought-after.  Both are available in extremely limited quantities, so let us know as soon as possible if you would like to secure some for your collection.

 Offered in bond, immediately available, E&OE.





Cullen Estate, Margaret River

Producer Profile

Cullen Estate, Margaret River


Along with names like Moss Wood and Vasse Felix, Cullen was one of the founding estates in the Wilyabrup area of the Margaret River wine region, in the 1960s and 70s.  Topday, Jancis Robinson describes Cullen as "one of Australia's best producers".  Diana and Kevin Cullen began making wine here in 1971.  Their daughter Vanya Cullen joined in 1983 and became head winemaker in 1989.  She has transformed the estate, introducing first organic and then biodynamic viticulture, in 2003. 

As well as winning numerous awards as a winemaker, Vanya is very active as a judge at wine competitions around the world.  We have noticed a common theme with winemakers like Michael Brakovich MW at Kumeu Estate and Sam O'Keefe at Lismore...winemakers who taste widely bring an added perspective that shows through in their winemaking.

Breezes from the Indian Ocean give Wilyabrup a moderate but generally Mediterranean climate, with relatively high rainfall in the winter to keep the vines hydrated.  In wine classification terms, Wilyabrup is not an official sub-region of Margaret River, but Vanya Cullen has led a campaign for it to be recognised as such.  The soils here are distinctive and very old in geological terms, based on granite and gneiss, layered with limestone and sandstone on the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, with weathering providing a diversity of other soil types.   

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