I think the idea of yearly "cutting" and "bulking" outlines are generally for competitive body builders. Meaning, you try for 9 months to add as much muscle as possible while gaining as little fat, and then to prep for a show you diet for 12-16 weeks to lose as much fat as possible with as little muscle loss as possible.
Now, of course the noncompetitive lifter can make use of these kinds of phases, but dont get caught up into the thought process that you need to have rigid guidelines for what you do EVERY year.
The amount of muscle you lose when dieting and fat you gain when adding mass are all dependent on training age, aggressiveness of the diet, intensity of training, length of diet, how far you drop in body fat (getting 6 pack lean is different than getting BB Stage lean), amount of cardio, etc...
For the average joe just looking to "get in shape", and have a good combo of size and leanness, you can probably get away with not going through these phases. Meaning, if you eat well and train hard, you can maintain a good look throughout the year without focusing on intense periods of gaining or losing weight, with an occasional diet to shed some body fat.
However, To excel and reach phenomenal levels of either size and/or leanness, that's where it gets much trickier and simply "eating right" and training hard wont cut it for most people.
But like I said, don't get too caught up in "phases" - Just eat well, train hard, make sure your strength is going up and your waist isnt getting out of control, and then cut back on the food intake for a bit to shed some fat.