Stay in touch with the latest news and happenings at Vasse Felix, in Margaret River and on tour around the world.
We were thrilled with the results announced at the 2021 WA Good Food Guide Awards (WAGFG) last night. A very well deserved congratulations to the Vasse Felix Restaurant team and Head Chef Brendan Pratt, who were awarded Restaurant of the Year and Regional Chef of the Year respectively. The WA Good Food Guide Top 100 Restaurants list is generated from over 5,000 restaurants in Western Australia.
When accepting the award, Restaurant Manager Caleb Dreaver acknowledged the Estate's established experience in the hospitality industry; “The Vasse Felix restaurant is over 30 years old and has been built by the hard work, persistence and commitment to excellence of many hands before ours. Thank you to all those that came before us. Thank you to our team, a group of absolute professionals and more importantly, great people. Thank you to our owners, the Holmes à Court family, for entrusting us with this legacy and continuing to invest in it. We are blessed to have such an amazing playground in which we get to do what we love. Thank you to the WAGFG. To Georgia and her team, you have breathed new life into the awards and we, the industry are grateful. Thank you to WA hospitality – what a thriving and supportive community it is.”
On Vasse Felix winning this prestigious award, the WAGFG judges said;
“There are periods in a restaurant’s lifetime where every element comes together to create an experience for the diner that is a synthesis of everything that is right and good about eating out. If 2021 is anything to go by, Vasse Felix is smack bang in the middle of it. Is it the warm service? The way the estate wines – from entry level, to rare and exclusive, to curiosities – are each given their due? The elegance and airiness of the room?
The answer, surely, is all of the above. Then there’s the food, which has found real focus and clarity under Brendan Pratt, a chef whose always had the skills, but who’s ideas now seem clearer, more refined. He’ll draw on the state’s best produce – much of it from Margaret River – then take it in new and unexpected directions. It’s a bold chef who’ll pair Rose Mallee beef with tallow-enriched milk, taramasalata and radicchio, for example, or use toothfish twice on a menu. But Pratt not only makes it work, he does it in ways that reframe the conversation. A shining light.”
A huge congratulations to all of the outstanding venues in the 2021 WA Good Food Guide Top 100. Explore the full list here.
This past weekend, we united with fellow Chardonnay devotees for an intimate exploration of the world’s original vinous chameleon and its Margaret River form.
Featuring some of the most revered Heytesbury vintages from our precious museum collection, in addition to pre-release showings of our new 2020 Chardonnay releases - this was a culinary quest not to be missed.
Peruse the highlights below.
Chardonnay, the world’s original vinous chameleon, takes its cues from site and winemaker more than any other grape varietal, reflecting the environment in which it is grown and the intricate winemaking techniques used to create a completely unique house style. As such, it is those who grow and craft it who truly know it best.
We’ve asked our talented team of Viticulturists and Winemakers to share their go-to (and uncoventional) Chardonnay pairings and experiences to help you make the most of your favourite ‘chameleon’ varietal this festive season.
Always challenging the conventions of regional style, our winemakers have been on a mission to invigorate Margaret River Shiraz over the last decade with their progressive ‘Syrah Project’. Through ongoing small-batch winemaking trials of wild yeast fermentation, small format carbonic-maceration and a reduction of oak, they unearthed wine parcels of enticing vivacity, restraint and depth. Bright with pepper, spice and vibrant blue fruit; surprisingly cool climate and endlessly captivating, many would say, more ‘Syrah’ than ‘Shiraz.’
In recent vintages, the Premier Shiraz style began getting ‘cooler’ and fruit resourcing started heading that way too. 2020 was a revelation, where the Shiraz grapes selected came primarily from Vasse Felix’s Boodjidup Vineyard, south of Margaret River, breaking away from a Wilyabrup heritage. In the south, ripening is gentle and fruit is finessed, for a sophisticated, tangy and electric expression. Thus, this vintage, Vasse Felix Shiraz is retitled, ‘Syrah’. Syrah represents what we believe to be the future of Margaret River’s ‘alternative’ red varietal, and of our Premier expresson at Vasse Felix. At this same time, we introduce Filius Shiraz, a contemporary, delectable ‘son of’ this house style, with the immanent drinkability of Filius label.
Introducing our new gallery exhibition from the Janet Holmes à Court Collection; Dwelling Rituals.
Dwelling Rituals focuses on home and the significance of the everyday. Small gestures, repeated actions, daily habits, the materials and objects of home each hold meanings significant to our being in the world.
Artists explore the repetitiveness of housework for the sake of harmony; meditate on the dwelling rituals and traditions of past times; on the connection between home and the natural environment and how the home is affected by threats to its environment. Dwelling Rituals presents artworks from artists across the Southwest, Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions of Western Australia.
Dwelling Rituals is showing in the gallery from 26 September 2021 - 30 January 2022
The new season has brought with it the first signs Vintage 2022 in our vineyards, as the eagerly awaited sunshine has encouraged new budbursts in our Gibraltar Chardonnay blocks at the Home Vineyard.
More to follow soon. Keep scrolling for some beautiful Spring highlights.
On Friday 10 September we explored the world of Margaret River Chardonnay, tasting unfinished Chardonnay barrel samples from the 2021 vintage, grown throughout the region.
Over 45 producers from the region generously contributed Chardonnay samples for the annual tasting, which saw winemakers and viticulturists from all over the region gather to share valuable information about their unique winemaking approach and discuss vintage conditions of the past season.
Japo Dalli Cani from McHenry Hohnen and Ianto Ward from Juniper Estate led the discussion on the 2021 Chardonnay samples, offering valuable insights into this somewhat challenging vintage.
It was a pleasure to see minimal Botrytis present in this large sample selection despite warm and moist conditions from the peculiar La Niña season. This was largely attributed to an extreme focus on canopy management, assisted by our Region’s natural system of cooling sea breezes.
With over 90% of the samples fermented wild, it was an impressive terroir driven showing. With particular standouts grown in Southern Margaret River featuring an intriguing saline, ocean influence.
Our own Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock rounded out the discussion by sharing her passion for the future of sustainable viticulture and winemaking in Margaret River, championing what she believes can be the most sustainable wine growing region in the world, our Wine Paradise.
Follow @vassefelixwines for more snaps from this collaborative Regional event.
We are thrilled with the excellent reviews of the entire Vasse Felix collection in the 2022 Halliday Wine Companion, released today.
Particularly excited to see both the 2017 TOM CULLITY and 2019 Heytesbury Chardonnay included in the Top Rated Wines of their varietal categories at 97 points apiece.
The Margaret River Wine Region also performed exceptionally well as a whole in the 2022 Top Rated collection.
"Margaret River again reigns supreme, putting forward as many highlights as every other region put together.." (2022 Halliday Wine Companion on the Top Rated Cabernet Family category)
Of the 58 wines included in the Top Rated Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Family categories, almost half (26) were from Margaret River. While in the Chardonnay Top Rated, the total of 36 wines included no less then 15 Margaret River Chardonnays. An incredible testament to the quality of this region's core varieties, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Keep reading to see Erin Larkin's reviews of the Vasse Felix Wine Collection for the 2022 Halliday Wine Companion.
2017 TOM CULLITY - 97 Points.
This wine is undoubtedly one reason why Margaret River has such a powerful reputation for cabernet: concentration without weight, savoury statuesque tannins and layers upon layers of exotic spice, laid on a bed of ripe fruit. Coursing through the very heart of it is a steady beat of cool-vintage saline acid, pulling it over the coals of the tongue, through to the very long finish. Remarkable. (Top Rated: Cabernet and Family)
2019 Heytesbury Chardonnay - 97 Points.
Everyone has their favourites. The Heytesbury chardonnay style is typically the wine that my heart reaches for. I love it. The 2019 iteration is minerally; laden with graphite and crushed rocks, brine, white currant, white peach and curry leaf. Heavily worked and wild, with an attractive rawness to it. Where 2018 was about fruit power, 2019 is about complex winemaking input. This still has my heart, but for different reasons to its predecessor. (Top Rated: Chardonnay + Special Value Rating)
2018 Cabernet Sauvignon - 96 Points.
Not enough can be said in favour of the 2018 vintage, producing wines just like this. Powerfully ripe and dense, with epic length of flavour. This is a structural and concentrated cabernet capable of decades of graceful evolution in the cellar. Wild raspberry, salted licorice, aniseed, pomegranate, ferrous and kelp. Saline acid. It comes in at under $50, and long may that continue, for it is one of the great-value premium wines of the region. (Special Value Rating)
2019 Chardonnay - 95 Points.
Each year this wine presents an amalgam of creamy, chewy phenolics, ripe yet nervy fruit and exotic spice. The balance of these things depends on the year. In 2019, it’s creamy and saline with white peach and fennel flower. Gorgeous stuff.
2018 Filius Cabernet Sauvignon - 94 Points.
Should we talk about 2018 again ...? It was clearly the greatest cabernet vintage in Margaret River’s history, a fact never more obvious than when on show in the region’s entry-level wines. This is the youngest brother in the family of cabernets at Vasse and has built a loyal following for its supple deliciousness and accessibility (both in price and quality). So: wild raspberry, red licorice, pomegranate, kelp, iodine, crushed pepper, spicy oak and the all important saline acid. The vintage has contributed a fruit power that gives the wine great length of flavour. (Special Value Rating)
2019 Filius Chardonnay - 92 Points.
This is the creamy, fine, pretty and textural younger brother to the other Vasse Felix chardonnays. Crushed limestone, nashi pear, sea salt, hints of juniper and a flick of sage. It can’t hide its coastal roots; there is a salivating mention of dried kelp and sun-drenched sand in there, if more descriptors were needed. Likely, not. A cool vintage has birthed a cool wine.
2019 Shiraz - 94 Points.
This is all about sunshine and shade; yin and yang. The fruit is both bright and red (vibrant and juicy), but it has shades of midnight depth and broodiness, too. It is fragrant, floral, spicy, satisfying and modern. The oak has been sensitively managed and as a result, is already integrated. Super-smart stuff.
2019 Sauvignon Blanc - 95 Points.
Creamy, rounded and supremely textural, this moves away from the spiny sauvignon blanc we are accustomed to and moves into a New World European space. Heady Margaret River florals and leafy greens (coriander, broad beans and sugar snap peas) linger in the background, making this a brilliant excuse for lunch. From the land and into the glass – what a beauty. (Special Value Rating)
2020 Classic Dry White - 93 points.
Rounded, textural, grassy and delicious. Bags of freshly picked snow peas, citrus blossom, coriander and gooseberry. Pretty as. (Special Value Rating)
2020 Classic Dry Rosé - 91 points.
Aromas of redcurrant, pomegranate and sesame are bolstered by the reflected reality on the palate. The acid that weaves through the fruit corsets it all together, making this a great value rosé. Chalky phenolics tied to the finish shape the wine. (Special Value Rating)
2019 Classic Dry Red - 93 Points.
This is delicious. Juicy, bright and vibrant, with ripe tannins and good length of flavour. All things in place, and pretty irresistible at the price. (Special Value Rating)
Our 2021 custom cover crop blend is progressing well, assisted by recent Autumn and Winter rains, in addition to the organic fertilisers our team spread earlier this year to maximise their growth and positive impact on the soils.
Pictured is the blend sown in to the Cabernet Sauvignon rows of our Home Vineyard, overlooking the Wilyabrup Brook.
A blend of oats, rye corn and faber beans, this cover crop will help to rejuvenate our ancient vineyard soils naturally by enriching and balancing the soil structure in preparation for the coming Growing Season.
We were thrilled to host Alumni and guests at our Truffles Unearthed evening with WA Good Food Guide early August.
Featuring truffles from local producer Harvest View Truffles, Head Chef Brendan Pratt's menu explored the joys of pairing Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay with these earthly delights, including a particularly special museum vintage 2015 TOM CULLITY served with flat bread, beef tongue, XO.
Peruse the highlights below.