An Evolution of our Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Style
By Estate Sommelier Evan Gill
Our Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon have been in constant evolution for ten years, ever since the inaugural release of a ‘project’ wine back in 2010. It was made from small parcels of exceptional fruit, utilising the winemaking techniques traditionally associated with Cabernet Sauvignon (interestingly, the progeny of Sauvignon Blanc). The result was a savoury, powerful and age-worthy white wine, infused with exotic grape skin perfumes and a drying tannin finish.
Since the release of this first project wine, our Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock has crafted a further nine examples and evolutions under the guise of our ‘Black Label’ range. Though these wines are incredible in their own right, the real raison d’être has been to constantly evolve and improve the Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. Something I believe they have truly accomplished, and now taken to a new height with this latest release.
The new release 2019 Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc personifies Virginia and her team’s trials on, and subsequent evolution of, our best Sauvignon Blanc parcels. This wine includes the smallest percentage of Semillon to date and represents a direct link to the Black Label ‘Blanc’ wines of 2017, 2018 and 2019 which were all 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Indeed, it is through these wines that the winemakers discovered how best to express the personality of our beautiful Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc parcels, teasing out more of the nuanced complexities unique to this region.
The 2019 Sauvignon Blanc includes the highest portion of full skins fermentation to date (10%). This is coupled with the largest portion of oak maturation thus far (over 60% of the total wine) which has been expertly and delicately managed by the use of larger format 300L Puncheons and 3000L Foudres, a popular vessel in Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley.
In short; the wine is delicious with crystalline acidity and a soft texture supporting citrus peel, orange zest, coastal herb and river stone nuances. Officially, the release has a recommended ideal cellaring window of six years but, like many of its predecessors I feel it may well continue beyond that.
So what are you looking for in an aged Sauvignon Blanc?
The crisp, linear acidity of our young Sauvignon Blanc wines relaxes over time (though still retaining its presence) and the wine becomes softer and rounder. The primary flavours so evident in our Sauvignon Blanc (orange zest, citrus peel, lemon tang, jasmine) only slowly fade and will still be present in 5-6 years time. Meanwhile, the more delicate and subdued background notes become more discernible, encased in a silky smooth and seemingly denser body.