Cullen Margaret River Diana Madeline 2020  £99.58

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Cullen Margaret River Diana Madeline

Cullen Wines is a certified biodynamic, carbon-neutral and naturally powered estate, with their philosophy summed up in three simple words; ‘Quality, Integrity and Sustainability’. It is one of the oldest and most awarded family wineries in Wilyabrup, in Western Australia’s famous Margaret River region. First established in 1971 by Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen and now run by their daughter Vanya, the winery has built an outstanding reputation for fine certified biodynamic wines that receive critical national and international acclaim. All wines produced are sourced from grapes grown on the Cullen and adjoining Mangan Estates. Both are certified biodynamic, to allow the soil to be nurtured and the wines to reflect their sense of place.

The soils at the Cullen vineyard are old granite and gravelly, sandy loam, overlaying lateric subsoils. The Cabernet Sauvignon comprises 11.33 hectares and was planted in 1971. The Merlot was planted in 1976 and covers 1.76 hectares. The conversion to biodynamic viticulture is believed to have produced better fruit, the character of which is preserved during the winemaking process. Vanya, the winemaker, believes that these characters are best retained by bottling under Stelvin.

The 2020 vintage was defined by dry conditions from the onset of budburst through to harvest. Lower than-average rainfall in 2019 paired with hot and dry weather in January, February and March made for almost drought-like conditions. Harvest took place from 8th February until 10th March. Bunch numbers were about average, but low berry weights produced very low yields. The resulting wines were balanced with excellent fruit purity, a vintage similar to 2003 in style.

The grapes were hand-picked and carefully sorted. Each variety was fermented separately with indigenous yeasts. Fermentation time ranged from 10 - 29 days before the wine was gently basket-pressed to barrel. It matured for 13 months in French oak, of which 50% was new, in a mixture of barriques and puncheons, with some biodynamic oak used.

Garnet in colour with youthful ruby-purple hues. Deeply perfumed on the nose with sumptuous aromas of mulberry, chocolate, wild rose, and salty plum. Both light and intense on the palate, with a juicy fruit core of mulberry, plum and cherry. This unctuous fruit is framed by fine grained tannins and Wilyabrup earth, ironstone, and dust, which expresses the heat of the vintage and complements the concentration of the fruit.

James Halliday's Wine Companion - 98 Points - Gold 

"Has the usual estate blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and malbec (92/4/3/1%), the grapes hand picked on fruit days between early February and early March, the components matured in French oak (50% new) for 13 months. The perfumed bouquet has already soaked up the new oak, the purity of the fruit in a cassis-redcurrant-blueberry spectrum. The small berries of a quasi-drought summer might have imposed awkward tannins, but the medium-bodied palate is so perfectly balanced it has a drinking span of 30 years and counting.

James Halliday


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