Today, we woke refreshed and ready for a morning of tromping around Cullen’s gardens and vineyards. Matt Dermody, the vineyard manager, had us taste the pea shoot cover crops growing between the vines in order to check for ripeness. At Cullen, the team monitors the sugar levels of their cover crops to determine when their grapes are ready to pick! Jaimie Orkin showed us his vineyard preparations, including Quartz dust and pastes made from herbs collected on the property.
Everything at Cullen is certified biodynamic, including a vibrant culinary garden. Even the barrels are sourced from biodynamic tonnelleries and coopers, according to Trevor Kent, who makes the wines with Vanya Cullen. Our lunch with Trevor and Vanya included many lettuces and herbs from the property. Vanya treated us to a range of excellent local Chardonnays, including a few vintages of her own “Kevin John” bottling, the top bottling named after her father. We tried more local seafoods, such as whiting, and finished the meal with a scoop of ice cream made with the winery’s Chardonnay blossom honey.
At Leeuwin Estate later in the afternoon, we tried a few vintages of the winery’s renowned “Art Series” Chardonnays. Chelsea did a cartwheel on the generous lawn out front, and then it was time to jet over to Deep Woods.
Julian Langworthy, who, at his relatively young age, already has received a lot of recognition for his work as a winemaker, tasted us through a trio of Deep Woods Chardonnays (and a few fresh Sauvignon Blanc-based wines and Cabernet Sauvignons).
We finally got a microburst of that rain we have been expecting all week here. We would learn later in the evening, over a home-cooked meal with winemakers Will Berliner and Frederique Parker Perrin, that Margaret River is behind at this point in terms of its water needs for the year. You wouldn’t know it by looking around, as the area is lush with emerald green pastures. This is where cows want to retire!
We wore ourselves out during dinner with lively discussion of closure types (that classic cork v. screw cap argument), following one’s artistic vision, grape picking times, and the bygone era of Rutherglen Stickies. Phew!
This story appears in the print issue of jan 2019.
Like what you read? Subscribe today.