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Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2005

Bordeaux Red Blends from Margaret River, Australia
  • JH96
  • WE93
  • WS92
  • W&S91
14% ABV
  • JH97
  • RP93
  • WS92
  • WE91
  • JH94
  • WE90
  • JH96
  • WE92
  • JH96
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4.5 1 Ratings
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4.5 1 Ratings
14% ABV

Winemaker Notes

This is a great wine and one of the very finest Bordeaux blends ever produced at Cullens. It was made using all of the five red grape varieties of Bordeaux, with Cabernet Sauvignon comprising three quarters of the blend. Merlot was the next most important contributor with 16%, followed by Malbec (5%), Cabernet Franc (4%) and Petit Verdot (1%). The wine has benefited from having been matured for 19 months in French barriques, of which 70% were new.

The 2005 Diana Madeline is a magnificent inky red color with a dense purple meniscus. The nose combines youthful dark berry fruits with intense potpourri notes for a powerful yet elegant example of Margaret River Cabernet. Dense black cherry and cassis fruits combine with lifted floral notes and fine, dusty tannins, while the exceptionally long finish reflects the quality of both producer and vintage.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
JH 96
Australian Wine Companion
As ever, has fine but persistent tannins running from the fore-palate through to the finish; the deep and intense fruit will sustain the wine until those tannins loosen their grip. All five Bordeaux varieties present led by Cabernet Sauvignon (75%).
WE 93
Wine Enthusiast
With only 50 cases imported, this review will be of only academic interest to most consumers, but for those lucky enough to latch onto a bottle or two, try to hold off opening one until 2015 or so. Right now, it's oh so promising, but also very tight. Scents of toasted almonds, vanilla and cassis only stubbornly emerge, and the wine is clearly packed with potential but also showing a lot of tannin on the finish.
WS 92
Wine Spectator
This has elegance and presence, striking a lovely balance between firm texture and fresh fruit flavors, with tannins. The flavors persist winningly. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2009 through 2015. 50 cases imported.
W&S 91
Wine & Spirits
The Cullens grow this cabernet blend under biodynamic principles, working with 30-year-old vines. The fine scent of oak and the amplitude that aging in barrel can provide is the most immediate impression. Later, once the wine develops with air, fragrant cherry and blueberry scents come forward, along with firm, gentle tannins. The wine doesn't feel pushed at all, its natural balance certain to sustain it for years in the cellar.
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Cullen, Margaret River, Australia
2005 Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot
A founding winery of Margaret River, established by Diana and Kevin Cullen in 1971. It is now regarded as one of Australia’s greatest estates, producing what many critics believe to be the country’s definitive Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. The white wines (both Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon) are also regarded among the nation’s best.

Daughter of Di and Kevin, Vanya, took over winemaking duties in 1989. In 2000, Vanya was honored as Australia’s Winemaker of the Year.

The 72 acre Cullen vineyard is planted predominantly in gravelly, sandy, granite derived topsoils with a clay base. It is entirely dry farmed.

In 2003, after 3 years of conversion, the property was awarded ‘A’ grade organic certification by the Biological Farmers Association. It is anticipated that the vineyard will qualify for Biodynamic Certification in 2004.

“One of the pioneers of Margaret River which has always produced long-lived wines of highly individual style from the substantial and mature estate vineyards. Winemaking is now in the hands of Vanya Cullen, daughter of the founders; she is possessed of an extraordinarily good palate. The Chardonnay is superb, while the Cabernet Merlot goes from strength to strength; indeed, I would rate it Australia's best.”
-James Halliday, 2003 Australia Wine Companion

Margaret River

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Home to some of Australia’s most elegant and long-lived red and white wines, Margaret River is situated in the farthest reaches of Western Australia. Relatively warm and dry, the region is cooled by breezes from the Indian Ocean. Margaret River takes some inspiration from Bordeaux, producing top-quality Cabernet Sauvignon with firm structure, mouthwatering acidity, balanced alcohol and notes of herbs and spice. Complex, age-worthy Chardonnays are another regional specialty. Also common here are refreshing blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, as well as earthy, aromatic Bordeaux red blends.

Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington, and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde river, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb, or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.

OBCC05DM_2005 Item# 101666

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