From its first vintage in 2012, this wine has set the benchmark for Cabernet in Australia. It surely sits on the bucket list for any serious wine lover.
Vanya's dedication to the biodynamic principles which she uses in the vineyard is impressive. Taking note of the lunar cycle, as well as whether the vine is in a fruit or flower phase, allows her to pick at the exact moment when the grapes are at their peak.
Once harvested, the fruit is crushed into terracotta amphorae which Vanya believes 'give silky tannins and elegance, reminiscent of Barolo or a SuperTuscan.' The 2016 vintage spent 86 days in these vessels, with both primary and malolactic fermentation occurring naturally.
The result is Cabernet in its purest and most elegant form. Structural and destined for a long-life, the Vanya Cabernet sits alongside some of the world's best.
'Cullen Vineyard, with its land, vines, wines and people… is my life’s work. Over the 3 decades of working at Cullen the love for Cabernet Sauvignon has deepened. Planted in 1971, it is the heart and soul of what we do at Cullen. This wine of the 2016 vintage is a tribute to the land and the vines it came from. Pure expression of a great year. No additions of yeast, acid, malolactic culture nor fining. The wines grown on these ancient soils are certified biodynamic, carbon neutral and powered naturally by solar power.'
Vanya Cullen, Winemaker
The fruit was sourced from 100% old vines on Cullen Vineyard.
Crop level at 3.8 tons per hectare and it is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon picked on the 9th of March 2016 which was a new moon Flower day. A solar eclipse was taking place as well as being moon opposite Jupiter.
The fermentation of both primary and malolactic was natural.
The wine spent 86 days in terracotta amphorae before being basket pressed direct to 4 barrels. All of the wine was aged in French oak for 6 months, of which 75% were new.
On the advice of eminent agronomist Dr. John Gladstones, Dr. Kevin and Diana Cullen planted a trial acre of vines at Wilyabrup, Margaret River in 1966. Commencing in 1971, 18 acres of vines were planted on their sheep and cattle farm, including their first Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc were planted between 1976 and 1978.
JAMES HALLIDAY - HALLIDAY'S WINE COMPANION
From old estate vines yielding 1.5t/ha picked on a new moon day with a solar eclipse, wild-fermented in terracotta eggs, 86 days on skins, pressed to four French barrels (3 new), matured for 6 months. A totally harmonious medium to full-bodied cabernet, all the components precisely (naturally) calibrated, supple cassis, olive and bay leaf keep watch. 1080 bottles made.
JAMES HALLIDAY - HALLIDAY'S WINE COMPANION
From old estate vines yielding 1.5t/ha picked on a new moon day with a solar eclipse, wild-fermented in terracotta eggs, 86 days on skins, pressed to 4 French barrels (3 new), matured for 6 months. A totally harmonious medium to full-bodied cabernet, all the components precisely (naturally) calibrated; supple cassis, olive and bay leaf keep watch. 1080 bottles made.
KEN GARGETT - EXPLOREDRINKS.COM
The 2016 also reflects its vintage conditions, more powerful and muscular. Another superb wine but at this stage, still a little reticent. Red fruits, especially red currants, and tobacco leaf. Again, immaculate balance and seriously impressive length, although at this early stage perhaps not as long as its predecessor. It does have plenty of power and there is a long future ahead.
GARY WALSH - THE WINE FRONT
Subtitled 'Flower Day' (though not labelled as such), but seeing as there's only one Vanya from 2016, will keep the name as is. Of course there's two Vanya releases from 2017, though will get to that later. Total of 1080 bottles produced from the old vine Cabernet, 86 days in amphorae before being basket pressed to French oak (75% of it new). Uplifting perfume, violet and tea, silky but firm drag of almost brick dust tannin, all red and black fruits, boysenberry in particular, biscuity and spicy oak is there but in background, acidity is scintillatingly pure, fresh and cool, and the finish is so long, with cranberry brightness, juicy berries, graphite tannin and other 'minerally' things. Sotto voce yet powerful and authoritative. Pure class. Next level. And so on.
MAX ALLEN - AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW
Picked according to the biodynamic calendar, fermented in amphorae and pressed off after 107 days on skins, this is a very different but delicious expression of Margaret River cabernet: more translucent, more floral and aromatic than most, with amazing, seamless, super-fine tannins falling gently but persuasively across the tongue.