Cullen Vanya 2020


No one questions the fact that Cullen in Margaret River is one of our very best producers. For me, their Diana Madeline Cabernet has been our most consistently superb Cabernet for decades. What is perhaps less well known is that they also release tiny quantities of an extra special Cabernet (and do the same with Chardonnay), the Vanya – named after winemaker, Vanya Cullen, the driving force before this estate’s inexorable march to greatness.

The current Vanya is the 2020. Only 261 bottles were made – previous vintages saw larger quantities, but still very limited. The wine was harvested on a flower day, Moon opposite Saturn astral event (all part of the biodynamic treatment practiced by Cullen). From their vineyard planted in 1971, it is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, fermented in terracotta amphorae, lined with beeswax from Cullen’s own hives, and then left for 92 days on skins. The wine then spent another 8 months in 100% new oak.

The wine is a near opaque black/magenta. There are intense aromatics, with elegance and poise. This is taut, balanced and focused. The flavours intertwine with dark notes to the fore – dark chocolate, leather, cassis, blackcurrants, soy and aniseed. It then finishes with notes of cloves, graphite, tobacco leaves and axle grease. The texture is seamless, supple and seductive with the silkiest of tannins and great length. This is surely a thirty-year proposition, for those with extraordinary patience. Brilliant stuff.