This weekend marked my first attendance at the annual Cullen Chardonnay Tasting.
The tasting originated with founder Kevin Cullen and his desire to benchmark his own chardonnays with other chardonnays from around Australia and the world. The tasting is conducted totally masked, meaning that the assessment is absolutely unbiased, and helps to put the current status of the wine into an international and national context.
These days, the tasting consists of 21 wines from 21 different wineries from around the world. In 2016 we looked through New Zealand, Australia, France and America. 90 people attended the tasting held at Cullen’s Winery in Margaret River on Saturday the 15th of October, which was held in the barrel hall.
Vanya Cullen led the mixed group of retailers, winemakers and wine lovers through the formal tasting, and at the end of each bracket a commentator took the group through the wines and their thoughts on them. It wasn’t until the very end of the tasting that the identities of the wines were revealed.
My top pointed wines in the tasting were all Australian, 4 out of 5 of which were from WA. My top five (ok six – I had an equal top):
- the Penfolds Yattarna (19.5/20 $150 RRP) and the Vasse Felix Heytesbury (19.5/20, $75 RRP).
- In second place the inimitable Leeuwin Estate Art Series (19/20, $95 RRP),
- the Xanadu Reserve (18.7/20, $85 RRP) in third,
- in fourth was the Voyager Project 95 (18.6/20, $55 RRP) and
- fifth place was the extraordinarily well priced Fraser Gallop Parterre (18.5/20, $39 RRP).
An astounding snapshot of 2012 chardonnay, and followed up by a long lunch at the Cullen restaurant with matched Cullen wines with each course. Guests were lucky enough to be poured the 2010 Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot from magnum – a wonderful way to sit through a rainy weekend. Tickets to the 2017 Chardonnay tasting can be purchased by joining the Cullen mailing list online.