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September Wines of the Month: two gems from Cullen Wines

Lyre trellising at Cullen Wines

Cullen Wines celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  From a towering base, the wines continue to go from strength and strength.  You can read about recent tweaks and latest news here.  My notes on the latest flagship releases and six other wines will be published on Decanter Premium.  For my September Wines of the Month, I have singled out two gems which offer great value for money given their pedigree and finesse.  I’ve snapped up a case of the ‘SBS’ for myself!

Cullen Wines Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2017 (Wilyabrup, Margaret River)

Since my Oddbins’ days, Cullen has branched out, producing a range of Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends.  IMHO the original is, as Levis says of its jeans, the best; it has always impressed for its age-worthiness (see this vertical here).  In a cooler vintage, Cullen Vineyard SBS has lovely structure, depth and finesse.  As ever, it has immense fruit purity and presence – a quality which Cullen attributes to the old vines (planted 1976) and Scott Henry and Lyre trellising (which results in good exposure and, it follows ripeness).  Muscular, the style is quite unique in the region.  Other top end styles tend to put greater emphasis on the oak and herbaceous aromatics, tending to citrus rather than Cullen Vineyard’s stone fruit profile. £20.90 at Vinum.

Cullen Wines Mangan Vineyard East Block Malbec/Petit Verdot 2019 (Wilyabrup, Margaret River)

The first incarnation of this wine – Mangan Malbec/Petit Verdot – made its debut in Oddbins Fine Wine some 20 years ago (the vineyard was originally planted 1995-1997). I liked its inky violet perfume and succulent black cherry fruit from the off.  A succulence brought home at the selection table in 2007 when this cellar rat was struck by the juicy, round (black cherry-like) Malbec grapes, fit to burst with juice.  Quite the contrast with the tiny Petit Verdot grapes.  These days, Cullen makes two examples of this then innovative blend – Red Moon and East Block where, once again, Scott Henry trellising (to which Vanya was introduced in New Zealand by Richard Smart) influences the intensity of the fruit.  Like Cullen Vineyard SBS, there is fruit intensity, but minerality and nuance too.  And those beautiful florals soar – a fine foil for the gravelly undertow.  Multi-layered.  13%   RRP £32.95 at Wine Direct
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