• Cullen Winery (Margaret River)

For a special lunch, and upon the recommendation of several locals and tourists, we went to Cullen to sample their organic wines and enjoy a meal with a view of the vines.

The wine
The Kevin John Cullen 2013 chardonnay was basket pressed, the traditional method allowing for slower juicing of the fruit.  It was clear and light with a hint of oak on the nose.  It was slightly sweet at the start and then moved to be citrusy and bitter.  It was an interesting wine for a chardonnay, a tangy flavour and not really my style.   It may have been open for a while as it claims to hold acid but it was not apparent. It also spent nine months on new oak, but this is subtle too.

The 2014 amber wine was a standout for a new experience.  This was made from 64% Semillon, 36% sauvignon blanc.  It spent four weeks in Italian amphoras before being put into barrels.  The colour was as the name suggests, with an aroma of sultanas like a dessert wine.  It was surprisingly strong, even with light tannins.  The sauvignon blanc gave it a fruity undertone.  There was a gentle saltiness on the finish.  This is the type of wine to have with food.  It changes with each mouthful.

The 2013 rose had a mineral nose but was closed.  It held a hint of strawberry, bitterness, anise on the end.  It was quite heavy for a rose.  It was 68% cabernet sauvignon, 31% merlot and 1% malbec and oaked.

The 2014 preservative free merlot spends three months on old French oak.  It was dark red with a beautiful aroma of berries.  On the palate it was too young, one for cellaring.

The Mangan East Block has salty soil for petit verdot.  The East Block gives the best fruit from Mangan that year.  The 2012 has a soft nose with smokiness.  It was a really interesting wine.  Musky, dusty but balanced with full fruit and tannins.  This wine was interesting and complex.  A big, typical Aussie wine.  It spent five months on three year old French oak, then one month on new.  There was no creaminess of oak on this one but strong tannins.

The 2013 cabernet merlot had a light fruitiness, strong tannins and herbaceous flavour.  The fruit for this one was taken from the 1971 vines (the first planted at the vineyard).  Again, this wine would benefit from cellaring.

The 2012 Madeline was taken from the first press picked on a super moon.  This smelt divine with an oaky creaminess.  On the palate it presented strong tannins, but first lovely fruit, vanilla, then bitterness and salt.  The 2011 in the same style had an interesting nose of burnt nuts.  This was softer on the palate at first too, then held bitter berries, was slightly herbacious and had savoury coriander on the end.

The meal
There had been an eggplant involtini on the menu when I looked online but today it was a tempeh dish or a vegetarian platter. The platter was a random assortment of local organic veggies and produce: soft beetroot with soft bread, olives not too salty flavoured with anise, spinach and onion, sliced orange and apple, vibrant green snowpeas, pickled cucumber, a warm frittata like the Women’s Weekly zucchini slice but with yellower eggs and cheesier, and a sweet and tangy plum relish. The amber wine became sweeter with the onion and  spinach, then mineral with the saltier flavours and bitter with the orange.

A side of polenta was served in lightly fried slices.  It was charred to taste and served with a yummy chutney.

The almond crumble dessert was the highlight.  The crumble was like a praeline without being too sweet. The honey ice-cream was delicious, creamy and rich. The honeycomb, like burnt sugar, was yum yum.  This was a very good choice for dessert. The whole thing was a bit like muesli with milk.

Cullen Winery
323 Caves Road
Margaret River
(08) 9755 5656

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