Cullen-Diana-Madeline-Cabernet-Merlot-2020
Cullen-Diana-Madeline-Cabernet-Merlot-2020

Cullen Diana Madeline 2020

Sale price$144.95
Wilyabrup, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia

Style: Red Wine

Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon (92%), Merlot (4%), Cabernet Franc (3%), Malbec (1%)

Closure: Screwcap

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Cullen Diana Madeline 2020

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Burke Road
Camberwell VIC 3124
Australia

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Producer: Cullen

Country: Australia

Region: Margaret River

Vintage: 2020

Critic Score: 98 and ★★★★★

Alcohol: 13.0%

Size: 750 ml

Drink by: 2055


Another beautiful, soulful release. A wine of significant pedigree and wow factor. Compelling stuff - Mike Bennie

James Halliday Top 100 of 2022

Cullen is an iconic Margaret River winery and the Diana Madeline is their flagship red wine. It is famed for its quality and consistency, is sought after by collectors world-wide and is a worthy regional benchmark. It is a classic Cabernet Sauvignon dominant Bordeaux blend grown on an exemplary vineyard. The Cullen vineyard has been certified both Organic and Biodynamic since 2004. 

"Dark, deep and a really youthful purple colour in the glass. Lifted and complex aromas of cedar, graphite, blackberry, brambles, violets and a briary underbrush edge. Full, rich, layered and complex, lashings of mulberry and blackcurranty fruit, firm, granular, textured tannins and lively acidity. Just beginning its journey and what a journey it shall be."  Aaron Brasher

"100% Cullen Vineyard. The blend is 92% cabernet sauvignon, 4% merlot, 3% cabernet franc, and 1% malbec. Aged for 13 Months in 50% new oak in a mixture of barriques and puncheons, with some biodynamic oak featuring. No additions of yeast, acid, or malolactic acid were made to this wine. 

Garnett with ruby purple tinges. Delicious aromas, and deeply perfumed, violets, wild rose, mulberry, satsuma plum and cigar box. The bouquet is mulberry, chocolate, rose, iodine and salty plum. First impressions on the palate are juicy berry fruit, mulberry, plum and cherry. This unctuous fruit is framed by fine grained tannins and Wilyabrup earth, ironstone and dust, which expresses the heat of the vintage and compliments the concentration of the fruit. Cellar: Now or up to 50 years. Cullen
 

Cullen Wines
Cullen Wines (click on image to play video)

Expert reviews

"Has the usual estate blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and malbec (92/4/3/1%), the grapes hand picked on fruit days between early February and early March, the components matured in French oak (50% new) for 13 months. The perfumed bouquet has already soaked up the new oak, the purity of the fruit in a cassis-redcurrant-blueberry spectrum. The small berries of a quasi-drought summer might have imposed awkward tannins, but the medium-bodied palate is so perfectly balanced it has a drinking span of 30 years and counting. Drink by 2055."  James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion - 98 points and Top 100 Wines of 2022 and Special Value Wine  ★ 

"Australian wine lovers have become accustomed to paying serious prices for cellar-worthy icon red wine releases. Star new-release wines from labels including Penfolds, Henschke and Torbreck can set you back $800 a bottle and are full-throttle towards the $1000 mark. And prices for top Bordeaux, Burgundies and Barolos are often beyond the wallets of mere mortals. That's what makes the Cullen Diana Madeline from Margaret River in Western Australia quite remarkable. This organic and biodynamic icon from a winery that last year celebrated its 50th anniversary is one of Australia's most loved red wines but still sells for only $150. For many that still makes it a "special occasion" wine but for aficionados, and those with a bit of credit on their cards, it is a super buy. I love the combination of bright dark fruit, savoury notes and ferrous hints in a wine that will cellar well but also offers immediate enjoyment."  Winsor Dobbin, gourmetontheroad.com – 97.5 points 

"Dark, deep and a really youthful purple colour in the glass. Lifted and complex aromas of cedar, graphite, blackberry, brambles, violets and a briary underbrush edge. Full, rich, layered and complex, lashings of mulberry and blackcurranty fruit, firm, granular, textured tannins and lively acidity. Just beginning its journey and what a journey it shall be. Drink: 2022-2042."  Aaron Brasher, The Real Review - 97 points  

"Great detail in that the wine comes from nine picks across fruit and flower days of the biodynamic calendar, spread across a month-ish lunar cycle. The Cullen way. Another beautiful, soulful release, this one a bit darker, a bit bolder, a mesh of tannins over train tracks and tension, but a wine of significant pedigree and wow factor nonetheless. Dark chocolate and graphite aromas with salted plum, black olive, bay leaf and oyster shell. Flavours ripple with authority in that weave of tannin, dark choc again, panforte perhaps more apt, dark cherry, saline minerality, more bayleaf and cinnamon spice. Succulent in the finish, mouth-watering and very fresh. Compelling stuff. Drink 2024 - 2040+."  Mike Bennie, The Wine Front - 96 points

"If a case or two of this washed up on a deserted island I was stranded on, I'd bury the flare gun; not wanting to be saved! Cullen Diana Madeline 2020 has one of the prettiest nose's you'll come across with black and purple fruits, florals and a hint of briars. Great burgundies' aromatics dazzle but so do those of great Cabernets. The biodynamically grown grapes are front and centre with Diana Madeline. It's 4K Ultra High Definition Cabernet, vivid, vivacious with beautiful detail. Alcohol is a moderate 13% but it's not underpowered. This is very satisfying, balanced with pure fruit and fine grained tannins. Who says top shelf Cabernet has to be heavy and tannic? Not Cullen Wines. 2020 Diana Madeline is fetching with immediate appeal. Get your hands on a few bottles if means allow. This is a wine that will live long in the memory."  Fergal Gleeson, greatwineblog  ★★★★★

Awards

James Halliday Top 100 of 2022
Special Value Wine – Halliday Wine Companion  ★ 

Organic/biodynamic

Cullen Vineyard

The combination of firstly organic, and subsequently biodynamic viticulture at Cullen Wines provides the opportunity for the land to exist at its full potential, thereby nurturing vines to produce their best and most individual grapes. Vanya Cullen has pushed the limits of biodynamic practices in every facet of the business and the yield of the estate vineyards has soared.  All Cullen Wines are grown on a certified Biodynamic, Carbon Neutral and naturally powered estate.

Organic Viticulture

Since 1971 when the Cullen Vineyard was planted, chemical intervention was minimal and the family's concern for the environment paramount. In 1998 the change to total organic viticulture was made. Organics is about soil health and Diana and Vanya went intuitively towards healing the soil by putting back what had been taken out. Organic farming promotes biological activity, which converts plant and animal residue into stable humus. This in turn increases the soil's ability to retain moisture and provide a reserve of nutrients. The Cullen vineyards were certified A Grade Organic in 2003. 

Biodynamic Viticulture 

In 2003, whilst attending a Biodynamic Conference, Vanya Cullen decided that Biodynamics would add further to the holistic and natural approach to both vineyard and winemaking. Biodynamics builds on organic farming to make all organic processes work more efficiently and effectively. 

Biodynamic viticulture is a philosophy combining the maintenance of sustainable soil fertility and the recognition of the link between plant growth and the rhythms of the cosmos.  Moon rhythms strongly influence life on earth life. As tides rise and fall in a pulsing rhythm, so does the sap of plants and all other liquids including those within the earth's mantle. Viticultural practices are conducted according to these moon rhythms. The position of the moon in relation to the planets is critical in determining the optimal time to plant. 

In addition, the difference between organic and biodynamic is the use of biodynamic preparations 500 and 501, with 502-508 also being used. Preparation 500 is cow horns filled with cow manure which helps the soil develop humus and attracts earthworms and micro organisms. Preparation 501 is cow horns filled with quartz crystals which aids photosynthesis and the uptake of minerals in the soil. 

In 2004 the Cullen vineyards were certified A Grade Biodynamic.

Vanya Cullen discusses biodynamics
Vanya Cullen discusses biodynamics
     (click on image to play video)

About the winery

Cullen Wines

In 1948, Dr Kevin John Cullen and his wife Diana Madeline Cullen purchased their property in Wilyabrup, which is in the heart of Margaret River. In early 1965 they started considering other uses for their sheep and cattle farm. They decided to plant lupins, so invited Dr John Gladstones (who had studied lupins in his post-graduate research) to visit their property. Dr Gladstones had also put considerable work and research into the suitability of growing vines in southwestern Australia and, according to Diana, upon seeing their land said "Oh, you're mad growing cattle and sheep, why don't you grow grapes?"

Dr Gladstones described Wilyabrup as being the sweet spot of the Margaret River region, most favourable for growing Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1966 he published his now-famous report which compared the climate and soils of Margaret River to that of Bordeaux. Many regard him as the founder of the Margaret River wine region. 

In 1971 Kevin and Diana Cullen made the decision to plant 18 acres of vines on the land, including their first Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Further plantings were made over the subsequent decades. The mature 28-hectare dry grown vineyard still operates today and the grapes for all the Cullen wines are sourced from here and the adjacent Mangan Vineyard which was planted in 1995.

While Kevin Cullen worked as a doctor to support the business, Diana Cullen supervised and managed the winery and became Chief Winemaker in 1981. Diana made history in 1982 by being the first woman to win a trophy at the Perth Royal Show. Kevin passed away in 1994 and Diana in 2003, and the Cullen flagship wines are now named in their honour; the Kevin John Chardonnay and Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. Both Kevin and Diana have been awarded life membership with the Margaret River Wine Industry Association, and in 2003 the WA Wine Industry Association introduced the annual Diana Madeline Cullen Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to the WA Wine Industry in her honour.

In 1983 Diana was joined by daughter Vanya Cullen, who took over the reign as Chief Winemaker in 1989 and was also appointed Managing Director in 1999. With Vanya at the helm, the quality of the wine is paramount and every step taken in the vineyard and in the winemaking is geared to that aim. The quality of Cullen Wines comes in the main from the vineyard - the wines can only be as good as the grapes. To realise the full potential of the vineyard, Vanya has embraced organic and biodynamic viticultural practices and the vineyards were certified A Grade Organic in 2003 and A Grade Biodynamic in 2004. 

The process of making the wine involves handling the fruit as little and as gently as possible. Practices such as hand harvesting, minimal fruit transport, sorting of the fruit before crushing, minimal wine movement, minimal fining for the whites, no fining for the reds and minimal filtration are employed. The wines mostly make themselves, with little or no intervention; which means the use of indigenous yeast, no additions of any kind and minimal oak use and fining.

Vanya Cullen received the "Australian Winemaker of the Year" award from Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine in 2000 and was voted "Woman of the Year" by UK based wine magazine The Drinks Business in 2008, becoming the first Australian to receive the award. Vanya was also awarded Halliday Wine Companion's winemaker of the year in 2020.

Cullen became the first vineyard and winery in Australia to be certified carbon positive, starting the process in 2006. Vanya Cullen is also on the board of the "Days of Change" program, which aims to help Western Australian people and businesses live and operate in a more sustainable way.

2021 marked a half-century for the brand and with it a celebration of the Cullen Wines legacy. "This year we celebrate 50 years of Cullen Wines – 50 years of sustainable wine growing preceded by 65,000 years of Wadandi sustainable land care,” says Vanya. "Over that time we've been supported by generous people with a wonderful spirit of camaraderie and warmth of spirit, and we are so grateful.”

Cullen Winery and the Margaret River Sub Regions

Cullen Winery and the Margaret River Sub Regions
wine region map of australia

Western Australia

Western Australia is home to more than 400 wineries across nine vast and extraordinary wine regions which are almost entirely concentrated in the south-west and great southern land divisions of the State. The regions are Blackwood Valley, Geographe, Great Southern, Peel, Pemberton, Manjimup, Margaret River and Swan District.

The oldest region is the Swan Valley, the best known both nationally and internationally is Margaret River and the largest is Great Southern. The Great Southern region is further divided into the five subregions of Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup.

The history of wine production in Western Australia dates back to 1840 with the establishment of Sandalford in the Swan Valley region. The recognition of the fine wine possibilities started to be realised after the establishment of the Margaret River Region in 1967, which has become renowned for its high quality Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The other regions produce a diverse range of regionally distinct wines, from stunning Rieslings and evocative Shiraz, to a range of unique Cabernet Sauvignon blends.