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Vanya Cullen has taken her cabernet merlot into the top echelon of Australian Cabernet through dogged determination, curiosity and superb technical skills. The exemplary vineyard site is planted on ancient granitic soils in the central Willyabrup sub-region of Margaret River. Cullen has adopted the principles of biodynamic viticulture to “achieve greater individuality of site through working with nature rather than against it”. This estate style is about freshness and complexity, structure and suppleness. The wines have pronounced cassis and cedar aromas with fine beautifully ripe tannins. Earthy, anise, gamy aromas and flavours develop with age. Diane Madeline Cabernet Merlot is named in memory of Di Cullen who established the winery and vineyard with her husband in 1966 and is pure bottled philosophy.
Top Vintages 2010, 2008, 2004, 2002, 2001,1999,1998,1997,1996,1995,1994
An extreme change from the cold and disappointing '06, and the vintage that Vanya saw as providing a strong indication as to how they might fare with climate change. There was heat aplenty but rain at the right time ensured “outstanding quality”. Vanya was delighted – there won't be so many sleepless nights about the potential devastation of climate change now.
Yields were very low – 1.84 tonnes/acre for Cabernet, picked in the second week of March; 2.1 for Merlot, picked February 22; 2.34 for Franc, picked March 7; and a miserable 0.9 for Petit Verdot on March 13. The final blend was 84% Cabernet, 8% Merlot and 4% each of Petit Verdot and Franc. Alcohol is 14%. The wine spent just 14 months in oak, 48% new, 40% one-year and 12% two years.