Vanya Cullen’s ‘Supernatural’ journey into skin-contact whites continues, with the 2019 ‘Amber’ a spicy, fragrant and gently grippy expression of sauvignon blanc.
Light golden amber in the glass, with some leathery, dried peel, cassia bark and waxy notes on the nose. First up this has a musky almost ambergris character, like an old-school French perfume built on tobacco and cedar, but then the variety pops out, with herbal high points, but they play down a smokier line, a bit like dried curry leaves. There’s a pull of tannin running through the wine, with the grip pulling the fruit to the savoury side, with the gentle richness dusted with spice and lightly drying texture.
Themes of this wine
When you think of sauvignon blanc, it’s hard not to think of New Zealand almost immediately, and the pungently expressive examples from Marlborough. But sauvignon also contributes to some of France’s most noble wines, as well as a huge diversity of expressions in Australia, both bottled solo and in blends.
If you’re after a wine region with a healthy dose of conspicuous glamour, then Margaret River has it all. Three hours south of Perth, ‘Margs’ is littered with iconic wineries, many with dazzling cellar doors and world-class restaurants. And then there’s the abundant sunshine, and the beaches – oh, those beaches… It’s a beautiful, beautiful place, and for a young wine region it’s very mature, with well-established paths to success built largely on the twin pillars of chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon (et al). Names like Cullen, Moss Wood, Woodlands, Leeuwin Estate and Vasse Felix feel like they’re etched in stone, but in the last little while, smaller players have been making their mark, too.
The skins hold the colouring matter and lots of tannin. Leave them in contact with the juice/wine and you’ll extract those elements. Most conventional white wine sees no skin contact, rosé a little bit to get a blush, and red wine plenty to get the colour and structure. Skin-contact whites… well, they have some skin contact. Yep. More colour, more tannin and a different flavour profile.