From our table to yours, a collection of five decades of moments with the Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon as shared by our Cabernet Society in celebration of the 50th vintage release.
Author | Bart Molony, Chief Viticulturist Vasse Felix
I feel very privileged and humble to be growing grapes for the wine that was the first commercial red wine from the region. The lean soil from which these grapes are grown is the best suited. The gravel loam texture and underlying clay ensures the vines are perfectly balanced - healthy but not luxurious. Cabernet Sauvignon is a strong and vigorous cultivar and if grown on rich soil, it is a little too productive in both vegetation and yield, rarely reaching optimal ripeness with the resultant wines dominated by vegetative and herbaceous characters.
Margaret River's climate is also key to the success of our Cabernet, the maritime influence of the Indian Ocean ensures that our ripening period is steady, allowing for full flavour development and the perfect balance between sugar, acidity and tannin ripeness in our grapes.
2010 was a special vintage for me. The vines were beautifully balanced and little intervention was required. Weather conditions were perfect, it was warm and dry but never too hot and the bird pressure was minimal. The 2010 Cabernet was harvested by hand at optimal ripeness and in fantastic condition. A standout vintage in my mind.
Author | Ian MacDonald, Home Vineyard Manager Vasse Felix
I have a vivid memory of the first red wine I drank that sparked something deep within me, a sense of what a really good wine offers as an experience, the complex layers of aromas; flowers, fruit, spice and savoury characters, the way tannins and acids can harmonise on the palate allowing the wine to linger for oh so long. I didn't have the language or understanding then, but what I was experiencing was how a wine can express the place where it is grown when well made. There was something about the freshness of this Cabernet, it seemed alive, elegant yet powerful, far beyond the few wines I had tried up until that point. I knew I liked wine but this was an epiphany, a genuine 'aha' moment. This wine, a Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, started me on my journey into exploring and learning about all things wine. Little did I know then, that 25 years later I would be managing the Estate's Home Vineyard in Wilyabrup. It gives me chills to think about it now.
Now embarking on my second season in Wilyabrup, the next stage of my journey is unfolding as I seek to understand the individual characters of the 20+ plots that craft the Vasse Felix Cabernet, and how best to farm this special place so the vines may truly express their individual terroir while maintaining the upmost respect and care for country - always remembering we are on Wadandi Boodja.
Cabernet is a resilient variety with a deep root system, however, to grow genuinely great Cabernet is certainly a challenge, a marriage between tannin and flavour ripeness while preventing excessive sugar levels. I am privileged to enjoy regular walks through the vineyard with both Virginia and Bart, where we discuss the finer details of growing Cabernet, culminating in my favourite time of year where we taste berries straight from the vine to make that all important decision of when to harvest our beautiful fruit.
Cabernet is indeed king, fresh and vibrant in it's youth, regal and wise with age. I am excited by my ongoing journey and growing relationship with Wilyabrup Cabernet and to discover how this 50th anniversary vintage evolves with time in bottle.