The team at Vasse Felix say they have completed the first stage of the program to create a wine worthy of founder, Tom Cullity.
He said after a succession of excellent wines, which began with the initial 2013 release and culminated in the great 2018, the first stage of the program to create a wine worthy of the legacy of Vasse Felix founder Tom Cullity was complete.
Now, things move forward with a release that captures much of the Cullity philosophy: wines do not need to be huge and obvious to be great.
It is an elegant and almost restrained wine yet has the driving power and lingering intensity associated with Margaret River.
Cullity was the pioneering Perth cardiologist who planted the first vines of the new era of Margaret River in 1967 on a site that came to be called Vasse Felix.
His initial cabernet and malbec combination set the course for the wines of Margaret River, and it is fitting that Mr Holmes à Court and Ms Willcock chose to perpetuate his legacy with the creation of the Tom Cullity cabernet sauvignon malbec.
For Ms Willcock, the 2019 makes a clear statement that cabernet doesn’t have to be big from Margaret River and that an icon wine doesn’t have to be massive.
“Our version of impressive is about elegance, sophisticated tannins, beauty and what we can translate to bottle,” she said.
Explaining some of the background to the 2019 release, Ms Willcock told Business News it was the lowest-yielding cabernet vintage since 2009, the epitome of rare and fine.
“The fruit was harvested later then average … resulting in remarkably intense flavour and a fine, silky tannin structure, similar to the concentration of the 2009 cabernet vintage,” she said.
“Malbec is a strong force in this release and at 22 per cent is the highest percentage to date, deepening the wine’s dark fruit complexities and embracing the strength of the 2019 vintage.”
This week, I have also provided notes on two other cabernet dominant wines, showing the strength of this variety at Vasse Felix.
Vasse Felix Filius cabernet sauvignon 2021 ($30)
This is such a good cabernet, especially when you consider the price of $30. It seems the Filius grows in sophistication and varietal expression each year. This was a cool year, of course, but the fully ripe fruit delivers and then some. Has a little bit of malbec, which is an important consideration for the wine, adding just that little fruit brightness and mid-palate plumpness without compromising the controlled linear structure. A little graphite and oyster shell minerality completes a terrific value wine.
Cellar: Nine years
Vasse Felix cabernet sauvignon 2020 ($55)
A stylish and elegant expression of this very good Margaret River vintage. The smaller volume and tight berry factor have contributed to the intensity and power on the palate especially. Highly perfumed nose with leafy red berry and blackcurrant and with a trace of bay leaf and black olive. The palate is silky smooth and more in the medium-bodied zone. Bright and vibrant with a dry chalky tannin and fine oak support. A classy wine.
Cellar: 15 years
Vasse Felix Tom Cullity cabernet sauvignon malbec 2019 ($200)
This wine shows the benefit of an extra year in the bottle. It’s coming together really well. Not the perfume of the 2018, but there is structure and poise here. Pronounced seaweed nori aroma with blackcurrant fruitiness and slightly toasty oak. This was a vintage that continues to reveal itself and should never be overlooked. It has such a seamless and slinky integrated palate it just coasts through effortlessly to a sustained long finish. A beautiful medium bodied wine. Normally this wine gets a small amount of petit verdot but none was included in the 2019 because of the cooler vintage. You really get a sense of prettiness and purity plus the detail in the wine when you get to the end of the glass. Brilliant.
Cellar: 25 years
- Ray Jordan is one of Australia’s most experienced and respected wine journalists, contributing to newspapers and magazines over more than 40 years. In 2017 he co-authored The Way it Was: The History of the early years of the Margaret River Wine Region