“Yet again, Cullen is leading the pack.” Those were the prescient words with which Gary Walsh concluded his note on the previous vintage of Diana Madeline. And that’s how it is. The Margaret River pack is an impressive one, globally celebrated for the quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon. The balance of ripe, layered Cabernet fruit and the structure that signals the grape’s nobility seem to come naturally to this region. And yet there are degrees of excellence. To realise a flawless sense of ripeness with freshness, so that the fruit truly sings, and to plumb engrossing depths of flavour while retaining exquisite poise – this takes an extra level of skill and intuition. It also entails the co-operation of nature. Vintage conditions play a part, yes, and they were once again favourable in the long, slow-ripening harvest of 2017. But the magic here is in the Cullen Vineyard, a site blessed like no other in Australia to have a devoted custodian so phenomenally in tune with it. So this is what happens. “Fluid grace, elegance personified, no compromise. Extraordinary attention to detail,” is how James Halliday viewed the ‘16 rendition. “ Wonderfully elegant and piercingly intense. An outstanding wine,” was how Huon Hooke saw it.