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Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2006
The 2006 Diana Madeline was made from a blend of 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec. The wine was matured for 15 months in French barriques, of which 40% were new.
A deep ruby garnet-red with a crimson meniscus. The bouquet is a combination of fresh and complex chocolate and blackberries. The palate is elegant, rich and flavorsome. Classic fresh, "crunchy" blackberry Cabernet fruit is backed by firm but unobtrusive tannins. Great length that leaves lovely lingering flavors. Delicious! Can cellar at least 20 years.
Bright hue, although not particularly deep; lighter fruit style than usual, albeit with normal tannin structure; needs three years before entering its plateau. Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot/Cabernet Franc/Malbec.
Bright red. An expansive, compelling bouquet offers red- and blackcurrant, spicy cherry, rose and licorice scents. Juicy red and dark berry flavors display liqueur-like depth and are propped up by fine-grained tannins. Sappy, mineral-accented cherry and blackcurrant flavors linger on the finish, which is crisp and precise. Not a heavyweight, and I suspect that those who see all Australian red wines through a Barossa shiraz lens will find this wanting-maybe even a European wannabe.
Cullen's Diana Madeline is amazingly consistent from year to year, and the 2006 continues that tradition. It’s maybe a touch fuller-bodied and rounder than some years, but maintains a sense of restraint and a timeless blend of tobacco, cedar and cassis, finishing with a flourish of mint.
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
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types...
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for nearly every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa, the region only produces about half the amount of wine, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in both quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River and Sonoma Valleys, Carneros, and Fort Ross-Seaview. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture...
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.
In the Glass
Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry, and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco, and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.
Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.
Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.