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1996 Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (1500ml)
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1996 VINTAGE CONDITIONS - MARGARET RIVER
The 1996 Vintage in Margaret River was slightly late and created some management problems viticulturally. Vintage began on around the 24th February with most areas reporting average yields, although some vineyards reported yields down 20-30%. Weather conditions during vintage were mild with some overcast days and rain about. February receiving 80mm, March 11mm and April 15mm of rain. The humid weather conditions meant that viticulturists had to maintain a watch on powdery mildew and botrytis. Around Willyabrup, high October winds reduced Chardonnay yields, however, the reds produced were of excellent quality, in part due to the extended ripening period. Despite the difficult patches of weather the general assessment is that the Chardonnays will show some excellent tropical fruit and citrus flavours whilst Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc will be fruity and well structured with good length.
The 1996 Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, produced from 25 year old non irrigated vines. A slightly higher proportion of new French oak was used for maturing this wine. It was increased to 84% to order to produce the right balance between the fruit and wood flavours. The wine spent 18 months in oak.Opaque crimson mauve colour. The nose is superb revealing layers of ripe fruit aromas. Blackcurrants, violets, mulberries, spice, plum and liquorice allsorts are magnificently intertwined with cedar oak. The wine smells of pure class. The palate displays great weight and concentration of ripe fruit flavours - it is more tightly knit then the generous 1995, however, it still has all the hallmarks of a great wine. Ripe blackcurrant, plum, spice and chocolate flavours are interwoven with liquorice and a hint of cinnamon. Superb balance, in spite of the fine firmish tannins. A very refined wine with very long aftertaste of ripe plum and cinnamon spice. The wine comes with a perfect 55 mm cork to ensure a long bottle life. Cellar for at least 3-4 years before opening and 10 years for optimum results. Cullens rate this wine as one of their best to date.