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Cullen, Amber Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Margaret River 2020

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Cullen, Amber Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Margaret River 2020
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93 points Vinous
“Bronze-hued orange. A wildly complex bouquet evokes dried peach, pear skin, botanical herbs, honey and pungent flowers. Chewy and focused on the palate, offering orchard and pit fruit nectar, beeswax, fennel pollen, chamomile and toasted nut flavors that show a hint of salinity and a core of juicy acidity. Fleshes out with air and finishes very long and subtly smoky, with the floral, herb and pit fruit notes lingering. As with most orange wines, this one will be divisive. Fermented on its skins for 10 days in a combination of standard and open-top fermenters and clay amphoras, and then aged for three months in neutral French oak casks; 12.8% alcohol.”

93 points Decanter
“Named Amber because the 10 days on skins in open and closed fermenters, including amphorae, produces a deeper hue. This and the low-yielding vintage makes for a structured wine with lifted white pepper, talc, white asparagus and orange pith and peel, giving an aromatic bitters note. Striated lemony acidity and chalky, pithy tannins parry, sustaining a dynamic finish. Predominantly sourced from old vines (planted 1976-1978) with small bunches of tightly packed berries.”

Jancis Robinson
"52% Sauvignon Blanc, 48% Sémillon. From Cullen vineyard, with a small portion of the fruit from younger Sauvignon Blanc vines, planted in 1988, 'contributing to the strength of character in the fruit profile'. A dry year with almost drought-like conditions by the time harvest began on 7 February. 'Terrifyingly low yields'. The idea behind this wine is to make a white wine like a red wine. A portion of the Sauvignon Blanc grapes were placed into open and closed fermenters, as well as amphorae, where they were left on skins for 10 days  before pressing. The wine was then matured for an average of three months in used French oak, before bottling. As it happens, some Cabernet Sauvignon has been grafted over to Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon so this is white wine from red-wine roots. Screwcap. TA  5.2 g/l, pH 3.4. Carbon neutral, certified biodynamic, certified organic, sustainable, vegetarian, vegan.
A wine inspired by a visit to the Rootstock event, as Jancis explains in this article. Very pale gold. Lovely chamomile notes. A touch of bitter orange, and orange blossom. A light smoky/mineral note of lapsang souchong tea. As the wine warmed in the glass, a hint of ginger. Super-fine tannic texture with lovely freshness, the tannins and the freshness playing off each other. Again this is so refined. On the palate, you pick up the grassy notes, dried grasses from the phenolic influence. Some orange blossom rather than white flowers. ‘Negroni’ says Vanya, which is a surprisingly apt analogy. Great length as the fruit and the texture urge each other along. More and more aromatic as it opens but still a textural wine. Mouth-watering in a way that many orange wines are not. 17.5/20 points. (JH)"

Vinous Reverie Notes
Vanya Cullen, one of Margaret River's pre-eminent winemakers, taking on an amber or 'orange' wine here.
Vanya sees this as part of the natural progression of her winemaking exploration. For many years she has produced some of the region's best examples of Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends - in this wine, she explores the affect of extended skin maceration on the Sauvignon Blanc grape.
As usual, Vanya doesn't do things by halves. The fruit spent up to 9 days on skins in a mixture of amphorae and tank before being pressed.
She has produced a wonderful expressive orange wine here, full of textural intrigue and exotic aromatics. It's complex, detailed and finely executed - everything you might expect from one of Margaret River's finest.


Margaret River
Product Type:
Sauvignon Blanc
Bottle Size:
750 ml
Wine Scores:
Jancis Robinson:

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