(2022) 27-year-old vines on top soil over a bed of gravel, extending to clay. 94% is Cabernet Sauvignon, with 4% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. A small proportion was wild fermented and the wine stayed in barrel for fully 20 months, all new French Oak. The oldest wine in this small selection, showing minimal colour development. Lots and lots of graphite and cigar-box, a very firm and taut blackcurrant fruit, again those small herbaceous notes adding interest. In a similar vein to the Cape Mentelle, the sweet ripeness of fruit striking the palate is surprising, a mouth-filling succulence, but very classy and elegant support from tight, creamy oak tannins, keen and slightly saline acidity, and a long and very pure finish of spice, fruit and freshening acidity.
(2022) Free draining soils with high ironstone gravel content were planted 17-47 yearsa ago with Cabernet Sauvignon (90%), plus 5% each of Petit Verdot and Merlot. The wines were matured for 18 months in selected barriques (mainly French with a tiny amount of Hungarian wood), of which about 58% were new. Just beginning to show some colour development on the rim, this has a graphite steeliness to the aromas, the fruit taut and black, a hint of leafiness and mint. On the palate there is copious sweet black fruit; there's a ripe confiture character, plenty of upfront approachability, but the savoury aspects of tight barrel aromas, fine and sandy tannins, and cherry-pit acidity balance very nicely.
(2022) There's 3% Malbec in the blend too, in a wine from a top vintage for Margaret River, with a long, rain-free autumn allowing for slow, full ripening. The Art Series comes from selected parcels of fruit, the wine spening fully 22 months in barrel before bottling. Dark, saturated and dense in both colour and aroma, there's loads of spice and cedar, and a core of pure blackcurrant. In the mouth the creaminess of the texture impresses first, with a supple flood of black fruit that is ripe, fleshy and sweet. Mocha coffee and dark, roasted spices add a lot of depth and drama, then the finish picks up much more of the grippy, but fine tannin and a rasp of refreshing plum-skin tart acidity. Long and very pure in the finish, with cellaring potential.
(2022) A cool start to the growing season slowed development, but summer conditions were good, a rapid cooling in March aslo allowing extended hang-time. 76% Cab in this vintage, with 20% Malbec and 4% Petit Verdot. Nineteen months in French oak, 61% new. A very perfumed, green herb and olive-touched character, bright and lifted with black fruit and a light balsamic glaze, fresh and fragrant. Very pure and attractive black fruit, but it retains that savoury, lightly salty olive and fennel note, oak spices, a touch of chocolaate, and very pure but firm tannins and acids. The sweetness of the fruit really builds on the mid-palate, finishing savoury and long.
(2022) A 'text book vintage' according to Vasse Felix, with consistent weather through the ripening season. Crop levels were good, despite some spring storms reducing cropping potential. 80% Cab with 16% Malbec and 4% Petit Verdot, it spent 18 months in French oak, 62% new. A little more dense in colour that the 2013, this also is perfumed, but more on pure red and black fruits and florals than the more herbaceous character of the 2013, with raspberry and light anise notes. The palate is luxurious, sweet and creamy fruit and a soy character, a little sweet, damp earth. Lots of saltiness and seasoning on this wine, very gastronomic, very digestible, the tannins and cherry pit acdity of the finish are really quite elegant, though spicy and intense too.
(2022) A dry and warm spring set good fruit and better yields than in the preceding vintage. Warm conditions with some helpful rainfall in January led to a long finish to the season. 78% Cab with 20% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot, it spent 19 months in French oak, 80% new. Lots of mint and eucalypt here, chocolate too and refined cassis. Also plenty of ozoney freshness, leafy fennel and liquorice. The palate has great concentration and balance, again it is a wine with great drive and focus because of those taut, fine tannins and dry cherry-pit bite of the acid, but this does have the ripeness of fruit too, plump blackcurrants and brambles, just a background of quite exotic, incense-like spice.
(2021) In Margaret River, Cullen is one of the leading exponents of biodynamic winemaking. This is their premium red wine, from ungrafted vines on granite and gravel that are now 50 years old, the wine matured for 17 months in French oak, 66% new barrels. Very svelte, an unruffled picture of ripe blackcurrant and lightly gravelly, earthy terroir character, a little floral/herbal edge too. In the mouth it is medium-bodied and quite spicy at first, then the soft creaminess of the black fruit builds on the mid-palate, always that gravelly bit of iron-filings grip and tension being very Bordeaux-like for me. The balance in the finish is very fine, staying savoury and juicy, in a composed and lovely wine.