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Cullen

www.cullenwines.com.au

Caves Rd, Wilyabrup, 6284

Cellar Door: Daily (10-4.30)

Ph: (08) 9755 5277

Cullen
Cullen Cellar Door

One of the Margaret River pioneering and most famous wineries was started by Di Cullen in 1971 after trial plantings in 1966. Her husband, Kevin, worked as a doctor. The Cullens had a farm next door to Tom Cullity’s Vasse Felix and with the help of Tom established their viticultural operation.

Vasse Felix (and most other wineries in the area since) are based on benign gravelly loams - Cullen is based on quite different soil - a pocket of granitic soil.

When the first wines came out in 1975 it became quickly apparent that Cullens was producing a leaner and more tightly structured cabernet than nearby growers. The flagship wine is the Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend although the Chardonnay can also be one of the region's best.

Roseworthy graduate daughter, Vanya, has taken over the wine-making and in 2003 Cullen was officially accredited as an A-grade organic producer. They have moved to full biodynamic accreditation.

The late Di Cullen (she died in 2003, Kevin died in 1994) has been inducted into WA’s agriculture hall of fame. There is also a restaurant that keeps the same hours as the cellar door.

 

vanya lake
Wine-making daughter of the founders, Vanya Cullen, has been the chief wine-maker since 1989 and managing director from 1999. (photo courtesy: Cullen)
Picnicking at Cullen
Picnicking at Cullen
Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

Cullen Diana Madeline 2015

Purchased: Not ($125)

Drink: 2032

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2017, the 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Merlot is supported with small Malbec and Cabernet Franc inputs, floral and tightly wound black cherry, redcurrant and blackberry with violet and aniseed notes, precise and medium bodied palate with ironstone minority and well judged lacy acidity, bitter dark chocolate and cedar on the lingering finish (*****)

Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2014

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2027

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2017, whole bunch pressed and highly perfumed white peach, nectarine and tangerine with flint, fig and lemon curd notes, intense and complex with a firm grapefruit rind acid spine, the 100% new French oak brings spicy almond/vanilla to the lingering finish, needs time (*****)

Cullen Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Purchased: Not ($35(

Drink: 2022

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2017, 64% Sauvignon Blanc, 36% Semillon, partial barrel ferment, vibrant and tautly stuctured lemon grass, guava and lychee with dried herb, flint and a touch vanilla oak, long with a slaty finish and tangy leomon rid acidity (****1/2)

Cullen Amber 2014

Purchased:† Not ($35)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2015, an ďorangeď wine where the grapes are left on skins and partially fermented prior to pressing, 4 months on new French oak, partial use of clay amphora pots,† 64% Semillon, 36% Sauvignon Blanc, quite dry with muted lychee, baked apple and citrus flavours with hits of grass and honey, viscous palate blunts the perception of the acid drive associated with more conventional WA SSBs, tingly finish with a hint of brine, firmly in the experimental rather than commercial camp† (****)

Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2012

Purchased: Not ($105)

Drink: 2023+

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2014, whole bunch pressed, very aromatic, outstanding intensity and length, white peach, pear and tangerine with lemon curd, flint and canned pineapple notes, wrapped in grapefruit pith, the spicy vanilla/almond oak is well integrated, power without compromising the finesse (*****)

Cullen Diana Madeline 2012

Purchased: Not ($115)

Drink: 2029+

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2014, 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, and 7% Cabernet Franc, floral, tightly wound and pure redcurrant, cherry and cassis with violet, rose petal and red capsicum notes, very long, dusty and evenly weighted, savoury undercurrent with graphite and ironstone minerality, firm drying spine of fine tannins with dark chocolate/cocoa/smoked cedar oak aspects (*****)

Cullen Diana Madeline 2011

Purchased: Not ($115)

Drink: 2030+

(GXY) Tasting: July 2013, this time its 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, silky, leafy but deeply fruited and pure boysenberry, red cherry and blackcurrant with violet, musk spices and dried herb complexity, long streak of graphite minerals, persistent gravelly tannins, the alcohol is down to 12.5% which should add to the cellaring life (*****)

Cullen Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012

Purchased: Not($32)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: July 2013, aromatic, barrel fermented blend of 73% Sauvignon Blanc and 27% Semillon, focussed guava, lime and passionfruit with white flowers, gun flint and dried herb/grassy nuances, chalky with a slightly creamy mid-palate leading to the wet slate finish, savoury, phenolic grip (*****)

Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2011

Purchased: Not ($105)

Drink: 2023+

(GXY) Tasting: July 2013, whole bunch pressed, 33% natural malo, powerful but tautly shaped nectarine, honeydew melon, apple and lemon drop essence with tinned pineapple notes, generous waxy palate also has some wheatmeal complexity and savoury phenolics, nervy and crunchy grapefruit acidity, restrained spicy vanilla-almond French oak, very good length (****1/2)

Cullen Vineyard Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Purchased: Not ($100)

Drink: 2030+

(GXY) Tasting:†Nov 2012, 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, medium bodied with only 13% alcohol, silky but deep set boysenberry, black cherry and blackcurrant with violet, musky spice and dried herb notes,† graphite minerals, lingering gravelly tannins (*****)

Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011

Purchased: Not ($30)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting:†Nov 2012, floral and barrel fermented blend of 69% Sauvignon Blanc and 31% Semillon, complex and† focussed guava, lime, cut grass and passionfruit with white flowers, gun flint and dried herb nuances, slightly creamy mid-palate with wet slate finish and a touch of phenolic grip (****1/2)

Cullen Vineyard Cabernet Merlot 2010

Purchased: Not ($38)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting:†Nov 2012, 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, leafy and medium-full bodied plum and mulberry with rose and violet notes, fleshy mid-palate with plenty of underlying graphite minerality, cedary finish withgrainy oak tannins (****)

Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Purchased: Not ($100)

Drink: 2022+

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2011, this time the mix is 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 4% merlot and 2% Malbec, perfumed and supple redcurrant and blackcurrant with cracked black pepper and violet notes, long and seamless core of graphite mineral-infused fruit, fine sheets of tannins and well judged acidity, very well crafted and balanced, this is one of the best vintages (*****)

Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2009

Purchased: Not ($96)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2011, very long and tautly shaped nectarine and melon with essency lemon drop and tinned pineapple notes, the rich, slightly waxy palate shows some wheatmeal aspects, bracing and edgy grapefruit acidity , spicy vanilla-cashew oak, needs time to settle down (****1/2)

Cullen Mangan Vineyard Malbec Petit Verdot Merlot 2009

Purchased: Not ($46)

Drink: 2019

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2011, firm and tightly packed blend of 63% Malbec, 27% Petit Verdot and 10% Merlot, earthy and medium-full bodied black cherry, blueberry and mulberry with violet and mint notes, infused with chewy savoury tannins, a light touch of mocha-cedar on the finish (****)

Cullen Margaret River White 2010

Purchased: Prince Wine Store, St. Kilda ($18)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2011, quixotic blend of mainly Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with small amounts of Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Chardonnay, lime, passionfruit, cut grass and guava, slightly waxy and buttery texture with some Riesling phenolics on the minerally finish (***)

Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010

Purchased: Not ($A30)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2011, complex blend of 66% Sauvignon Blanc and 34% Semillon, the Semillon was matured in French oak, aromatic and intense core of lemon, melon, guava and lime fruit with hints of tobacco, dried herb and vanilla, focussed and very long with some barrel ferment creaminess and zesty grapefruit acidity, some wet slate on the finish, full of drive and vibrancy that brings the out the best synergies of the SBS blend, will benefit from medium term cellaring (*****)

Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2008

Purchased: Not ($39)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2010, second tier to the Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot, this blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc, cedary medium bodied blackcurrant, redcurrant and violet with spicy Merlot mid-palate plumpness and some rhubarb earthiness and a hint of green olive, long fine tannins, has the balance and smoothness of the Cullen style while the mild vintage style is up to personal preference (****)

Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2008

Purchased: Not ($95)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: July 2010, 86% Cabernet Sauvignon,14% Merlot, no Petit Verdot or Cabernet Franc needed in this rather good if mild vintage fo the region, perfumed, silky red fruits such as mulberry and redcurrant coming to the fore this time, elegant, light-medium bodied with anise, iris and dried herb notes,lingering savoury and fine tannins, spicy cedar-vanilla-chocolate oak, the usual impeccable balance and length, only 12.5% alcohol compared to 14% in 2007, my only concern is with the absense of blackcurrant and whether the delicate core of red fruit will last for very long cellaring most wine writers recommend, it is drinking very well now and I would play it safe and drink it before 2020 (****1/2)

Cullen Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: July 2010, complex blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc/30% Semillon, 70% barrel fermented in new French oak, intensity of fruit from vintage led to extension of barrel ferment to four months, silky and vibrant nectarine, melon and passionfruit with tobacco and dried herb nuances, infused brilliant lemon acidity and very fine minerality, a subtle whisper of vanilla and cinnamon on the finish (****1/2)

Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2008

Purchased: Not ($70)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: July 2010, wild yeast ferment, whole bunch pressed, some malo, intense but tautly shaped nectarine, white peach and melon with matchstick and a contrasting touch of pineapple sweetness and grapefruit sourness, long, minerally and savoury palate, bright lemony acids that are less twitchy than the 2007, tightly integrated vanilla-cinnamon oak (****1/2)

Cullen Mangan Vineyard Malbec Petit Verdot Merlot Red 2008

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: July 2010, basket pressed blend of 42% Merlot, 39% Petit Verdot and 19% Malbec, densely packed mulberry and black cherry but tightly controlled phenolics and quite dry, earthy, modestly spicy and velvety with very fine tannins and restrained coffee-chocolate-cedar oak, needs time to unpack (****)

Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2007

Purchased: Not ($70)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2010, funky 100% wild yeast ferment and some malo, long, focussed and shapely nectarine, white peach and melon with some cumquat sweetness, savoury smoked meat, mineral and matchstick aspects, restrained power, rather nervy and twitchy grapefruit acidity (****1/2)

Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2007

Purchased: Not ($95)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2009, 84% Cabernet Sauvignon,8% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, elegant and gamey showing blackcurrant, mulberry and blueberry with anise and dried fennel notes, pristine and fully ripened core of fruit on the medium-full bodied palate, long chalky savoury tannins, seamless cedar-chocolate oak, great balance and length, return to form afer the under-ripe 2006 vintage (*****)

Cullen Mangan Vineyard Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Purchased: Not ($33)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2009, itís a 70% Sauvignon Blanc: 30% Semillon mix this time with a 28% barrel ferment component, fairly delicate and textured showing cut grass, lemon and lime with smoky and dried herb notes, balanced chalky acid backbone, the palate unfolds with good drive and nervy tension as the elements seek to burst out of the tightly controlled structure (****1/2)

Cullen Mangan Vineyard Malbec Petit Verdot Merlot Red 2007

Purchased: Not ($42)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2009, densely flavoured blend of 37% Malbec, 32% Petit Verdot and 31% Merlot, meaty and mouth-filling blackberry and black cherry with anise, white pepper and mint notes, quite earthy and dry, a backbone of dusty tannins but the extract is well controlled and avoids excessive phenolics, the savoury finish shows a whisper of cedar-vanilla oak (****)

Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2006

Purchased: Not ($90)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: May 2009, blend of 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec, from the coldest vintage since wine-making began in the region (I was there shivering and wet in the 2006 harvest), this is reflected in the low 13% alcohol, earthy mulberry and blackcurrant with a bedrock of dusty tannins and a hint of menthol, mid-palate spiciness, handsomely oaked with chocolate/cedar and vanilla from the 15 months in French barriques, however, the fruit does show some mid-palate hollowness and green edges from this atypical vintage, Cullen believe that this will be a long lived wine, Iím not so sure but weíll find out in a decade or so (***1/2)

Cullen Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2007

Purchased: Not: ($35)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2008, 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon, quite perfumed, tightly structured showing gooseberry, passionfruit and cut grass, vibrant with a chalky texture seamlessly infused with subtle cashew-vanilla French oak, savoury with some dried herb notes, lingering mineral and citric acid finish (****1/2)

Cullen Chardonnay 2006

Purchased: Not: ($65)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2008, pre-release tasting, tangy and funky grapefruit, melon and nectarine nose, wild yeast fermented, richly textured mid-palate even before its commercial release, creamy/nutty mid-palate with wholemeal features, racy lemon and grapefruit acids with seamless spicy almond-vanilla oak integration, should develop nicely (****1/2)

Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2005

Purchased: Cloudwine, South Melbourne ($90)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2007, elegant and powerful showing vibrant black cherry, mulberry and dark plum, well defined core of fruit on the multi-layered and medium-full bodied palate, earthy with dried herb complexity, chalky savoury tannins, seamless cedar-chocolate oak, impressive balance and length (*****)

Cullen Mangan 2006

Purchased: Not: ($45)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, blend of 50% Merlot, 36% Petit Verdot, 14% Malbec (much more Merlot than usual at the expense of the Malbec), dense core of plum, blackberry and black cherry with violet and dark chocolate notes, medium-full bodied palate is multi-layered with herbal and mint aspects, finishes with plenty of acid and grippy dusty tannins (perhaps reflecting the rain affected 2006 harvest) (***1/2)

Cullen Ellen Bussell Red 2005

Purchased: King and Godfreys, Carlton, Vic ($19)

Drink: 2009

(G) Tasting: Aug 2007, blend of 48% Malbec, 41% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, smooth and soft entry style showing blackberry and plum, medium bodied with some pepper, mint and cinnamon complexity, discrete oak and velvety tannins although there is a fair acid cut on the finish (***1/2)

Cullen Chardonnay 2005

Purchased: Not: ($65)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2007, pre-release tasting, complex grapefruit, melon nectarine nose is a touch closed at moment but will undoubtedly open up after commercial release, wild yeast fermented, seems to have better balance and less cloying than the 2004, creamy/nutty mid-palate, crisp acid and integrated spicy oak features, long dry finish, good return to form (****)

Cullen Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2005

Purchased: Not: ($35)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, 25% barrel fermented, pungent initial flavours of lychee and passionfruit, quite grassy, followed up by lemon sherbert and some subtle nutty vanilla and herbal notes on the mid-palate (***1/2)

Cullen Chardonnay 2004

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, rich grapefruit and nectarine nose, wild yeast fermented, forward sweetness on palate, a bit angular, leads to creamy mid-palate, crisp acid, long dry finish (***1/2)

Cullen Mangan 2004

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot blend, aromatic nose showing mulberry, plum and black cherry, the multi-layered medium bodied palate also shows fig, chocolate and savoury complexity, dusty and slightly astringent tannins, firm acidity on finish (***1/2)

Cullen Late Harvest Chenin Semillon 2005

Purchased: Not

Drink: 2006

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, cellar door specialty, sweet light bodied dessert wine, apricot and honeysuckle nose, palate shows marmalade notes backed up with some refreshing acidity (***1/2)

Cullen Cabernet Franc 2004

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, mainly from estate vineyards. ripe raspberry and red cherry flavours with violet notes and a hint of pencil shavings, light-medium bodied, fine tannins, acidy finish (***)

Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2001

Purchased: King and Godfreys, Carlton, Vic ($70)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: June 2004, still a bit tight in its youth, velvety structure is framed by the creamy cedar-chocolate oak ,obvious deep concentrated fruit, multi-layered complexity already showing balanced acid and lingering savoury tannins, should grow up to be something delicious, this is a wine to cellar for a decade (****1/2)

Cullen Velvet Red 2001

Purchased: King and Godfreys, Carlton, Vic ($20)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: June 2004, a blend of Shiraz Grenache and Mataro, nose showing strong savoury flavours and a straightforward structure, a great early drinking style wine chock full of liquorice and blackcurrant flavour that provides a lingering finish (***)