We stumbled across Bench WInebar while out for a Sunday afternoon walk in January. Since then we have been several times.Located on the southern end of King Street, Bench is owned by Robyn Thomas who also happens to be the owner of Pizza Picasso. Bench is located in what used to be the dining area of Pizza Picasso, and has an industrial chic look.

Cool tunes play quietly over the sound system and an illuminated colour changing wine rack in the shape of a bunch of grapes is the feature on the back wall. Bench Winebar has a great little wine list with some different and interesting wines, and price points that won’t break the budget. So far one of our favourites on the list has to be the Tar and Roses Miro Tempranillo from Spain.

Grape wine rack

As we are on their newsletter list, we recently recived an invitation to a tasting of Cullen wines, so we just had to go. Vanya Cullen is the wine making genius currently in charge at Cullen and was on hand to tell us more about the wines and the biodynamic practices that they use. The Cullen winery is located in the  Margaret River district in Western Australia. We used to steer clear of Margaret River wines, but over the past few years we have noticed that the limestone minerality that used to be quite predominant has become more subtle and the wines seem a lot fresher.

Vanya Cullen at Bench Winebar

Cullen has two vineyards that they source grapes from, The Cullen Estate Vineyard and The Cullen Mangan Vineyard, which is across the road from Cullen Estate, but has its own unique terroir. The wines from the Mangan Vineyard used to be blended with the Cullen estate wines but now have their own identity within the Cullen range.

On the night we tried Mangan Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010, Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011, Mangan Malbec Petit Verdot Merlot 2010 and Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2010. All were very nice and definitely on our list of wines to drink.

Cullen info pack

On a recent Sunday we decided to try the Cullen Diana Madeline 2007. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon(60%), Merlot(30%) and Cabernet Franc(10%). This was a great drop, easy to drink and left us wishing we had another bottle. Still waiting to try the 2008 and the 2009 vintages, but there are so many great wines we are discovering lately that we just keep forgetting to buy either vintage.

Diana Madeline

We have also recently tried a bottle of their 2010 Cullen Cabernet Merlot. This is predominately cabernet with merlot and just a touch of petit verdot. This was a great drop and has room to develop with a few more years of aging. This is like a little Diana Madeline, much the same way that Penfolds 389 is considered the baby Grange.