January 29, 2010 Cullen Wines
Australia (Margaret River)
Observe the Cullen chilling in the snow. Wine casting an elegant shadow.
See the Cullen amid the salad of mache, pecans & pear. Feeling at home.
This is Vanya Cullen, a world away in Australia, where it’s 30C degrees warmer today than what I’m experiencing. Her wines bring me sunshine.
Her parents, Dr. Kevin Cullen and his wife Diana, founded the winery in the early 1970s, the first of note in the Margaret River area. Diana Cullen took control of Cullen Wines a decade later, while her husband devoted himself to his medical research, the famous Busselton Health Study, of which he was the founder. (And still today 10% of the sales of Cullen is given in support of the project, one of the longest running population health studies in the world, with over 300 articles in medical journals to its credit.)
Eventually the vineyard mantle passed to Vanya, who had worked closely with her mother for many years. And today the Cullen winery remains at the forefront in Margaret River, in no small measure to Vanya’s drive and constant need to improve the wines. In 1998 she made the commitment to organic cultivation, and within a few years initiated the move to biodynamics.
Perhaps the best known of the Cullen bottlings is the cabernet sauvignon/merlot blend named for her mother, the Diana Madeline. But the white wines have grown to significant stature as well. The chardonnay is considered among the very best to come out of Australia.
Cullen Chardonnay 2002
Instantly, it’s the colour — a vibrant turn of yellow, a cast of green. Fresh in the fields. Welcoming. The aromas not brazenly seeking attention. Yet there to be embraced. Roaming aromatic mysteries, difficult to unravel. Stone fruit? Cheese? Perhaps. With glass tipped, it shows sophistication beyond its years. Steeped in minerals, yet it plays nicely to the palate. It confidently measures up, and will not desert in haste. Wise and steadfast. $$
A few days later and the temperatures have risen, though the Cullen seems content still in the snow. It adds to the charm of walking along Rennie’s River, one of several trailways through the city. There is much to breathe in, much to invigorate a morning. The wineman could be miles into the country, not in the centre of his city.