The difficulty in introducing this great Margaret River producer is that there is so much that could be said but not enough space in which to say it all.

Established in 1971 at Wilyabrup in the heart of the Margaret River region by Dr Kevin Cullen and his wife Diana, it was influenced by scientist Dr John Gladstones whose studies indicated the viticultural potential of the region.

Di Cullen took on the winemaking and was integral, along with several other pioneers of the region, in putting Margaret River on the Australian wine map, and later the world wine map. Today, daughter Vanya Cullen is at the helm, and her winemaking prowess and refined palate have taken Cullen Wines to even greater heights. Their 49ha of estate vineyard is run on organic and biodynamic principles.

Not only is the vineyard certified A Grade biodynamic, but more recently has become the first vineyard and winery in Australia to be certified carbon neutral. Their wines are individual and long-ageing, derived from ‘natural winemaking’ and relying on wild (natural) yeast, with minimal intervention and no additions. Their Bordeaux blend reds and Chardonnays are sought after internationally.

The Wines

2021 Dancing in the Moonlight (RRP $30) 

A captivating rosé-style using all red varieties from the Cullen Vineyard.  Produced using the French Saignee technique of running off free-run juice from just-crushed dark-skinned grapes after a short pre-fermentation maceration – the juice thus having a light colour. The wine an attractive onion skin colour. Bouquet is fresh, floral, vibrant with rose petal. On the palate a dry, slightly savoury style. Absence of oak allows full fruit expression, with flavours of cranberry, rosewater and Turkish delight. A wine for current consumption. For me this wine compares with the famous rosé of Tavel and Provence in southern France.

2019 Grace Madeline (RRP $39) 

A wonderful example of a Sauvignon Blanc (67%) and Semillon (33%) blend with the SB component given five months in 100% new French oak. The nose shows powerful and intense fruit. Gooseberry and cut grass aromas, with some slight pungency. The palate displays purity, intensity, minerality. The Semillon shines through with herbal, pea puree and lime flavours. Great background acidity from a cooler vintage.  Oak binds it together beautifully. This wine is so reminiscent of Bordeaux whites but with much brighter fruit.

2018 Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (RRP $29)

A seriously good and complex expression of this vibrant grape variety which will be long-lived. Attractive limpid mid-gold colour. Complex aromas of green bean and lime leads on to intense interwoven kafir lime, green capsicum, vegetal and grassy flavours. The oak (73% new French oak for three months) adds structure, but is harmonious and not overstated. Crunchy acidity carries the wine to a clean and
long finish.

2021 Mangan East Block (RRP $55)

This massive wine is such an interesting blend of Malbec (59%) and Petit Verdot (41%). I don’t recall ever seeing this before. Both are ‘lesser’ Bordeaux varieties, often used to adjust tannin levels in blended wines. Petit Verdot has been described as “the winemaker’s spice”. The dense, deep black-purple is striking. Overt ripe fruit aromas of mulberry, satsuma plum, dark chocolate. Big on the palate with opulent flavours. Powerful tannins and high acidity (as expected from these varieties).  Enjoyed this wine now, but I can only imagine how good it will be in 10 or 20 years from now.

2020 Diana Madeline (RRP $150)

My top wine of the tasting.

In my opinion this Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant Bordeaux blend has set the benchmark for this style in Australia over the past decade. Bordeaux wines of equivalent quality that I have tasted carry price tags way in excess of this wine. A blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec. Superb colour of deep ruby red with purple edges. Shows intense aromas of blackcurrant, black olive and dark chocolate. Deep flavours of plum, mulberry and clove. There is an earthy character synonymous with Margaret River Cabernet. Wonderful fine-grained tannins. Fruit and oak are harmonious. This wine has power and elegance, structure and length, and a finish that continues to build. It will drink well for decades to come.


For your chance to win a dozen bottles of Cullen Wines,
visit our competitions page to enter.