Monday, June 11, 2012

Has Vanya Cullen gone too far this time?

We like people with character or personality. By this we mean people who stand out a bit, be it with their features, points of view or other personality traits. For me, it is similar with wine. I like my wine to stand out, to be different.

Vanya Cullen has been a prominent spokesperson for the organic and biodynamic movement. I reported in an earlier post that I felt the vibrancy of fruit in the flagship Diana Madeline wine has increased during the last 10 years. She has also been very focussed on reducing alcohol levels with an objective to get them under 13%. The highly acclaimed 2009 had 12.5% alcohol. With these objectives, she is right in the trend of all the major wine critics. It is therefore no surprise that the 2010 wine achieved very good reviews as well.

Leaving all trendiness aside, how attractive is the 2010 Cullen Diana Madeline? It is instructive to start with the vintage. 2010 continues the run of good vintages at Margaret River. It is reported as another warm vintage. However, in reality, spring and autumn were relatively cool, interrupted by a heat spike in February.

Now on to the wine. It has a lovely, quite floral nose. On the palate, the flavour is predominantly redcurrant. It is the first Australian Cabernet I would describe as light bodied, and the result is that the mouthfeel is somewhat lacking. The tannins are very soft for a Cabernet, and while there is some length on the finish, it seems to fizzle out. This is clearly a wine of great purity, but I ask myself: if the grapes had been picked a little later, would the wine have had more flavour or personality? I think, yes. No doubt, the fruit is good and the wine is well made. It is therefore a matter of preference. I think potential greatness has been left on the table here.

Another matter: Cullen releases its wines very early. I find it almost impossible to appreciate a Cabernet at less than two years of age. Given the success of the winery, could the red wines not be held back for another couple of years?

Score: 93/0     

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