Thursday, November 10, 2011

2009 Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay (Margaret River)

Drinking this wine left me with a feeling of being unfulfilled.

To explain, Cullen’s Kevin John Chardonnay has been one of Australia’s most lauded Chardonnays over the past few years. Almost without fail, reviews from critics are glowing and scores are very high. Given the wonderful quality of Australian Chardonnay generally this is no mean feat.

This wine is also aiming high, being one of Australia’s most expensive Chardonnays at an RRP of $105 a bottle.

Finally 2009 was for most producers a fantastic vintage in the Margaret River. Cullen winemaker, Vanya Cullen, has labelled it the “Mozart vintage” with all the white and red wines being in perfect harmony and balance.

So when it came time to celebrate my recent completion of my Masters degree, and the meal was going to be a chicken dish, this was the wine I decided that I wanted to splurge on. Given the price, the reputation, and vintage, I hoped the wine would give me one of those wonderful wine vinous experiences.

The wine starts off with tropical, pineapple aromas that soon blow off to reveal a classic Chardonnay nose that’s mealy, nutty, and creamy along with strong grapefruit notes. There is complexity here no question. The palate finds a lovely balance between the generosity of its beautiful fruit and a refined line of flavour, and pushes through to a long, savoury finish. Lovely acidity and a nice bit of texture complete an impressive wine. The one issue I had was that the spicy oak seemed to sit somewhat apart from the fruit on the back palate, though I can see this integrating with time.

I drank it over two days. I decanted it. I drank it both slightly chilled and also at room temperature. I tried to do the wine justice. In the end, the impression I came away with is that this is a quality Chardonnay in need of some more time to come together. Unfortunately, however, at no point over the two days did it surge to greatness or give me that “wow” moment.

The time that this wine will spend in people’s cellars may well make a fool of this tasting note and score, but for mine this 09 Kevin John Chardonnay is a fraction off the greatness that the combination of price, reputation, and vintage implies. A very good wine but I wanted more. 4 stars +


RRP: $105
ABV: 13.5%


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