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The Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay sits comfortably amongst the pantheon of Margaret River’s finest Chardonnays. In fact, one would not be out of line to suggest it is simply one of Australia’s greatest white wines.
Vanya Cullen’s unrelenting quest for winemaking excellence is beautifully realised in this ode to her late father, Dr. Kevin John Cullen. The man’s passion for Chardonnay from Margaret River was legendary and this wine surely does him proud.
The fruit is hand picked exclusively on fruit days (the days of the biodynamic cycle which optimise fruit flavour) from the immaculate 39-year-old vineyard tended by the Cullen family.
This is a wine of immense power and precision and stands as a constant reminder of the potential of Australian Chardonnay. In his 96 point review of the 2015 release, Gary Walsh said “It’s a beautiful thing. Power with grace.”
What It Tastes Like
“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.” - Gary Walsh (The Wine Front)
98 points. “To capture such character and presence and frame it breathtaking acid line, pure drive and persistence is nothing short of astonishing.
Vanya Cullen credits the vineyard, the fruit and the low-yielding vintage. It seems her stringent biodynamic regime has also contributed to building the minerality in her wines. From a hue of bright straw green, this wine projects glorious white peach purity and hints of anise. Five months in 73% new French oak puncheons and barriques has contributed impeccably and surprisingly subtle and perfectly integrated nuances of vanilla. Wisps of flintiness define a finish of outstanding drive, finesse and undeviating persistence. A think of sheer beauty, it left me completely transfixed.”
- Tyson Stelzer (Tyson Stelzer's Australian and New Zealand Wines of the Year 2017)
96 points. “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.”
- Gary Walsh (The Wine Front)
Strikingly similar conditions in terms of weather and yields to the previous vintage. Very low yields of 1.39 tonne/hectare with no rain in January, February and until the end of harvest in March. One big difference was the Marri blossom which did not flower until after the harvest causing bird pressure. This is a wine of great purity and refined elegance. The Chardonnay grapes were hand harvested on fruit and flower days from 39 year old vines. They were then whole bunch pressed and fermented with wild yeast in barriques. It underwent natural malolactic fermentation prior to receiving 5 months of oak maturation.
Closure: Screw Cap
Bottle Size: 750ml
Drink Until: 2023
About the Producer
The Cullen estate is farmed with an almost militant adherence to the principals of biodynamic farming. Owner/winemaker Vanya Cullen is one of the most outspoken advocates of the benefits of these practices in the industry and her results of her carbon neutral vineyard speak for themselves. Her stable of wines are regarded as one of the most elite in Western Australia, if you like Margaret River wines you are going to love Cullen.
Margaret River is recognised as one of the country’s finest wine growing regions. The quality of the region’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay rival the very best in the world. But Margaret River is no two-trick-pony. There, Tempranillo and Malbec are excelling, Touriga Nacional seems to be quite at home, Chenin Blanc is getting serious and even pockets of Nebbiolo are rearing their heads. Watch this space. Who knows what new surprises are just around the corner from this famous region.
Australian Chardonnay is a seductive variety that comes in all shapes and sizes. From the toasty and voluptuous to the lean, flinty and minerally, there is a Chardonnay out there to suit everyone. Australia’s developing prowess with this variety has been marked by the international community with wine writers such as Jancis Robinson marvelling at the outstanding value to be had right across the country. The prestige brands of Margaret River offer wines of deep flavour and power, often crafting fuller-figured Chardonnay of outstanding quality. The cooler-climate wines from the Yarra Valley, Tasmania and the like are more focused and linear, building complexity around a backbone of pristine acidity. Whatever your preference, there is an Australian Chardonnay to enchant all comers.
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