Stay in touch with the latest news and happenings at Vasse Felix, in Margaret River and on tour around the world.
This season has been more nerve-wrecking than the last ten, there were moments we sat watching the weather forecasts of predicted rainfall anxiously, only to see dramatic changes in our favour
The mysterious alchemy of the Margaret River cape seems to have kept us well protected and the fruit has ripened beautifully - some spectacular batches in house.
This year is a cool vintage of elegant, perhaps slightly lighter bodied wines. The Summer temperatures were cooler than normal and we began the of harvest for our white varieties three weeks later than average over the last ten years, with picking commencing on 22 February.
Chardonnay is looking crisp – slightly coiled in its relatively young phase but with its balance we are comfortable it will be another great white vintage. Sauvignon Blanc has excellent flavour and structure and a good natural balance of acidity and sugar. We harvested Semillon in a very healthy condition too. With healthy fruit and confidence in our natural microflora we have extended our wild fermentation program across to more of the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon this year, and that wine will now show more of its natural attributes from tank and barrel. (Meaning all Premier and Icon wines are fermented with natural yeast).
We have harvested the first blocks of Shiraz which is really interesting in this cooler year. It is quite spicy, more cool climate looking and very vibrant.
The Cabernet received a couple of consistent, warm weeks during its veraison period and the fruit is coloured beautifully. We expect we will be picking as patches reach their peak any day now. Watch this space!
We are excited to announce that the newly decked out museum space 'The Vault' - home to the most historic museum wine collection in Margaret River - is now open to visitors.
In the 1970s Dr Tom Cullity had an idea to sink the concrete shell of a water tank into the earth to store Vasse Felix wines. Unfortunately, in the early days it wasn't fit for purpose as the temperature varied too much. The space evolved over the years, eventually housing the Vasse Felix Cellar Door from 1979 up until 2009.
These days the cellar is temperature controlled. It has been the home of our museum wine collection since 2010, and most recently received a spectacular new fit-out to become 'The Vault'.
The Vault houses all of our historical wines; including the last remaining bottle of the 1972 Cabernet Sauvignon, alongside a new historical exhibition of the early years in the region and at Vasse Felix.
It is now available for selected tours, including 'The Cellar Experience', which operates on weekends.
The Vault was developed working with Melbourne-based interior designers Hecker Guthrie with whom we have worked for numerous Cellar Door projects including the Restaurant refurbishment of 2014, development of our Wine Lounge, and the design of Bar Felix.
These projects have been nominated for the Commercial and Interiors chapter of the WA Architecture Awards to be announced later this year.
Summer in wine paradise; friends, family, sunshine, good food and fine wine.
It was wonderful having so many visitors over the holidays, in what has been a mild Summer here in Margaret River. Between the Restaurant, Wine Lounge and front lawn, the Estate was certainly a bustling hub of activity - and this feeling has continued through January.
We spotted some great images on social media from visitors sharing their VF experience by tagging @vassefelixwines and #vassefelix.
Vasse Felix once again hosted the revered Australian Chamber Orchestra for the annual Sound & Sense Festival.
FRIDAY: THE CLASSICAL SESSION
Guests were greeted with a glass of Vasse Felix Blanc de Blancs sparkling on arrival, accompanied by cheese and charcuterie before assembling in the tranquil surrounds of the Vasse Felix Art Gallery, for a Classical performance by the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Following the performance, guests joined Janet Holmes à Court, Richard Tognetti and members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra for an intimate dining experience held upstairs in the Vasse Felix Restaurant. This tantalising five course degustation menu by award winning Executive Chef Aaron Carr included perfectly matched wines by Vasse Felix Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock.
SATURDAY: BARRIQUE, BAROQUE
Following an exquisite repertoire of much loved favourites combined with new engaging works by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, guests enjoyed a gentle evening stroll through the old vines to the spectacular Red Barrell Hall for an unforgettable grand long table dinner hosted by Vasse Felix Winemakers.
SUNDAY: SUNDAY SOUNDS
Guests enjoyed an accesible and engaging program at a special family friendly morning performance, followed by gourmet bites picnicking on the lawn or a special lunch in the Vasse Felix Restaurant with friends and family, ACO newcomers and die-hard fans alike.
Vasse Felix's top food and wine picks for the festive season, including recipes from Executive Chef Aaron Carr.
Scallops are easy to prepare and great for entertaining. First, remove the abductor msucle then sear in a very hot pan, turning only once and allow to rest before serving. Dress with Sweet Ginger dressing and pair with Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon.
Sweet ginger dressing
½ cup tamari
2 teaspoons ginger – chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 stalk lemon grass – finely chopped
juice and zest of 2 limes
2 teaspoons palm sugar
salt and pepper
1 chilli chopped – no seeds
1. Whisk together all ingredients and serve with lightly seared scallops.
Vasse Felix Executive Chef Aaron Carr's simple vegetarian gnocchi dish is versatile as a main or side. The grilled fig and vincotto makes this gnocchi dish light and punchy for Summer. Matched with the 2015 Chardonnay, the creamy flavours of the pumpkin and goats cheese are perfectly balanced by the wine's citrus power and hazlenut and wafer notes.
Pan-fried potato gnocchi with roasted pumpkin, pepitas, grilled figs & goats cheese
Ingredients (serves four)
2 large red potatoes
4 figs (quartered & roasted)
1 butternut pumpkin (peeled, roughly diced & roasted)
200g rocket leaves
120g goats cheese
salt + pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1. Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold water & bring to the boil, simmer gently until cooked. Remove from the water & place on a tea towel & allow to stand for 5 mins (if the potatoes seem a little moist you can place them in a slow oven for 5 mins to dry them out).
2. Remove skins from the potatoes & use a mouli to pass them into a large stainless steel bowl. Add the plain flour a little at a time to form a dough. Divide dough into 3 and roll each into long cigar shapes. Using a scraper cut into 3cm pieces. Place into a pot of boiling water & simmer until gnocchi floats to the top. Remove & place on a tray. Place the tray in the fridge to cool. Repeat the process until you have finished all the dough.
3. Place a heavy based fry pan on high heat with a little olive oil & sea salt, add the gnocchi & pumpkin & cook on a high heat stirring constantly until gnocchi is evenly browned. Add pepitas & rocket & toss for 2 mins. Remove gnocchi from the pan & place into a serving bowl. Place the pan back onto the heat & add the butter & sage leaves & cook until butter is nut brown. Spoon the butter & sage leaves over the gnocchi.
4. Place 4 pieces of fig & some goats cheese on top of the gnocchi, drizzle with the fig vincotto. Serve.
Shaved fennel and green bean salad with sprouting lentils and goats cheese
The real reward of making this salad comes from growing your own sprouting lentils! Simply blanch beans and toss with sprouting lentils and thinly sliced fennel. Top with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and sumac.
200g stringless green beans (tails removed)
2 fennel bulbs, tops removed
100g goats cheese
salt & pepper
150ml olive oil
1 lemon (juiced)
1. Firstly to make the sprouting lentils, lay a cloth on a flat tray & pour the lentils onto this, cover with another cloth & pour enough water onto the cloth to moisten. Leave the tray in a warm spot making sure it doesn’t dry out for 2 days or until the lentils have sprouted. Remove & store in the fridge until needed.
2. Place a pot of water on the stove big enough to blanch the beans, add a teaspoon of salt & when boiling blanch the beans for 1 minute, remove & place immediately into iced water to refresh, remove, drain & reserve until required.
3. Cut the fennel bulbs in half & using a mandolin shave as thinly as possible, wash, drain & reserve until required.
4. In a large stainless steel bowl mix the fennel, beans, goats cheese, salt & pepper, olive oil & lemon juice & toss. Place onto a large platter & top with the lentils & a little sprinkle of sumac.
Pickled carrot salad with quinoa, walnuts, feta & pomegranate
This salad makes a great accompaniment to lamb or grilled chicken for a Moroccan vibe. The pickled carrots can be prepared a day prior and kept chilled in the fridge in the pickling liquid to absorb the beautiful cinnamon and star anise flavours.
125ml chardonnay vinegar
1 cinnamon quill
1 star anise
2 large carrots, cut into julienne
100g walnuts (roasted)
200g Persian feta
salt & pepper
1 pomegranate (seeds removed)
mint & coriander for garnish
1. In a pot bring the vinegar, water & sugar to the boil with the cinnamon quill and star anise included for flavouring, allow the pickling liquid to cool for 15 minutes then pour over the carrots & place into the fridge until cold.
2. For the quinoa place a pot on the stove with a little olive oil, toast the quinoa for 1 minute stirring constantly. Add the water & bring to the boil, cover & allow simmer for 12 minutes or until water has evaporated. Stir quinoa, drain & place onto absorbent paper to cool in the refrigerator.
3. Drain carrots & reserve the pickling liquid. In a large stainless steel bowl mix the carrots, quinoa, walnuts & feta, place this into a serving bowl. Drizzle with a little of the pickling liquid, the pomegranate seeds & sprinkle of the mint & coriander. Serve.
Tip: To remove the seeds from your pomegranate, cut in half, twist open and hold in your palm with the seeds facing toward it. Hit the top of the shell with a wooden spoon and the seeds will fall into your palm.
MADE, the creative hub from New York, launched its inaugural fashion, music and art event at Carriageworks in Sydney in November 2016.
MADE is a year-round, dynamic platform that connects emerging talent in fashion, music, art and culture with visionary brand partners. Started in 2009 to counter the impact of economic recession on fashion designers who could no longer afford the cost of runway shows during New York Fashion Week, MADE has grown into a global, vibrant community that lives at the intersection of fashion, music, art, and youth culture.
MADE SYDNEY was a 2 day festival-like one-of-a-kind event celebrating the best of Sydney's fashion, skate, music and film scenes. Programming included a fashion event by Mercedes Benz, a skateable installation by Faith Connexion, and retail pop-ups featuring exclusive pieces from MADE designers.
Vasse Felix was the official wine sponsor, serving Classic Dry Red and Classic Dry White alongside beverages from The Cider Lab, Absolut and Perrier.
James Halliday muses on the past, present and future of Vasse Felix including his review of the yet to be released 2013 Tom Cullity.
AUSSIE WINE'S SOUTHERN STAR - Vasse Felix is among equals in the wine world, James Halliday explains why.
"Perth cardiologist Dr Tom Cullity was first out of the blocks in Margaret River when he established Vasse Felix in 1967, initially planting cabernet sauvignon and malbec, and making its first commercial quantity of wine in 1972. Today there are 165 wineries in what is one of Australia's most highly regarded regions.
Indeed, if you simply look at cabernet sauvignon (and its associated varieties of merlot, malbec, cabernet franc and petit verdot) it stands alone as the foremost producer of such styles.
Vasse Felix is first among equals, its 150,000-case production with a logical four-tier structure, most of the volume coming from the Classic Dry White and Classic Dry Red, then Filius, next varietal, and two icon wines at the top.
Paul Holmes a Court, involved since the family purchased Vasse Felix in 1987, became the sole owner in 2008. Virginia Willcock became chief winemaker in 2006 and has been central to the increasing quality of the wines, working closely with Paul. Its two icon wines were first made in 1995, named Heytesbury after the Holmes a Court family company. One was (and is) a chardonnay of sublime quality, the other a cabernet-dominant blend, until now simply called Heytesbury.
It is the latter wine that has been the focus of attention in recent years. The first wine made by Cullity was a cabernet malbec, then over the decades the emphasis changed to a Bordeaux blend of multiple varieties. But since 2008, largely elbowing petit verdot out of the way, malbec has made a progressive comeback.
So when the 2013 is released next May, it will be a very different wine. Called Tom Cullity, the front label will also read "cabernet sauvignon malbec". This is not simply a rebadged Heytesbury:
30 per cent less has been made, and the malbec component has increased to 20 per cent. It makes its statement effortlessly, leaving Tom content."
2013 Tom Cullity - 98 Points
Wild fermented, 28-35 days on skins; matured in French oak (61% new) for 18 months. Slightly light colour; gloriously fragrant bouquet; intense cassis-accentd palate. 76% cabernet sauvignon, 20% malbec, 4% petit verdot; exceptional texture, length and aftertaste.
2015 Heytesbury Chardonnay - 97 Points
One of the icons of Margaret River a chardonnay that has had spectacular success in shows over the past 5+ years. The mouthfeel and balance are flawless, supple yet focused, all the ingredients - fruit, oak, acidity - in perfect harmony.
Included in James Halliday's Top 100 Wines for The Weekend Australian Magazine.
2015 Vasse Felix Chardonnay - 96 Points
From the premier Wilyabrup vineyards; barrel fermented, matured in french oak (42% new) for 9 months. The bouquet is still developing but the palate gurantees a medium to long-term future. Exceptional length and intensity; pear, white peach and grapefruit make light work of the oak. Restrained like a lion on a leash.
Margaret River hosted its fifth annual Gourmet Escape food and wine festival from 18-20 November 2016.
A highlight was Friday night's Local Origins at the Vasse Felix Gallery led by a unique gathering of home-grown talent including Vasse Felix Executive Chef Aaron Carr, Jed Gerrard (Wildflower, Perth) and forager Paul Iskov (Fervor Food).
Festival headliner Nigella Lawson was in attendance on the night for a special Q&A, in addition to an unexpected appearance from Rick Stein.
The four course menu showcased the simplicity and flavour of Western Australia’s exceptional produce accompanied by some of Margaret River's finest wines.
Saturday night saw Aaron Carr join Isaac McHale (The Clove Club, London - #26 of the World's Best 50 Restaurants) to produce a sublime degustation dinner held in the Vasse Felix Restaurant.
Bar Felix returned to the Gourmet Village as part of the 2016 Margaret River Gourmet Escape.
Bar Felix, the travelling incarnation of Vasse Felix returned to the Gourmet Village as part of the 2016 Gourmet Escape after its successful debut the previous year.
Classic Dry White was once again pouring on tap, in addition to our sparkling wine Blanc de Blancs and both Filius Chardonnay and Filius Cabernet wines.
This year our food offerings included a beef tortilla with corn, chipotle and tomatillo in addition to a dessert of yuzu tart with coconut, chocolate and nori.
Wine School was held at 12pm, 1pm and 2pm each day, giving festival goers the chance to learn more about wine from the Vasse Felix winemakers themselves.
DJ Mandy B hit the the decks late on Sunday afternoon, giving Bar Felix a relaxed vibe and getting everyone up and dancing - the perfect end to the Margaret River Gourmet Escape weekend!
Ray Jordan (The West Australian Wine Guide) has awarded the 2015 Heytesbury Chardonnay White Wine of the Year for the second consecutive year.
Ray Jordan's annual wine guide released in early November includes reviews on six of our wines including the 2015 Heytesbury Chardonnay receiving the award White Wine of the Year.
"With this exceptional chardonnay Virginia Willcock and the team have taken things to an altogether new plane of excellence. The degree of palate complexity and intensity combined with how it delivers through to a long finish is brilliant. A modern chardonnay with underlying Margaret River power."
2015 Heytesbury Chardonnay - 98 Points
Oh my, this is seriously good. The chardonnays at Vasse Felix have been on the up for a number of years but it's hard to remember a better one. Such intensity, such power and yet such elegance and poise. The fruit is expressed with equisite precision on the palate with the pristine nectarine and crunchy lemony pear and subtle grapefruit a compelling combination. A smidgeon of toasty oak completes a stunning wine.
2015 Chardonnay - 96 Points
Thoroughly beautiful expression of Margaret River that shows the continuing evolution for this variety at Vasse Felix. It's restrained and almost delicate, yet there is still all that underlying Margaret River intensity that drives through to the finish. Great texture and mouthfeel with a lively mix of nectarine and subtler stone fruit all perfectly harnessed with an exquisite touch of oak.
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon - 96 Points
Cabernet, like chardonnay has been a particular focus for Vasse Felix. This is a special wine from a special vintage. Elegance and refinement personified. Leafy floral notes on the nose. But it is the palate that really sings. It's relatively tight with a core of fine oak and firmish silky tannins, but there is sweet fleshy fruit held with focus that extends effortlessly to the finish.
2015 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon - 95 Points
A blend that takes the usual fare for this combo to another plane of excellence. Superb aromatics of honeysuckle, tropical fruit and subtle lemon stone fruit. The palate is just beautiful with deep complexity and flavour. The fruit is still dominant but there are other factors at play which elevate this. Finishes crisp and precise.
2015 Filus Chardonnay - 91 Points
Pure and vibrant expression of chardonnay at what is the entry level for Vasse Felix these days. Crunchy with a vibrant minerality and pristine fruit definition. Such fine delicate lines persistent through to the long finish.
2014 Filius Cabernet Sauvignon - 94 Points
What a stunning cabernet for the price. This is now the third tier behind the Marg cabernet and the Heytesbury, but in some ways that does it a disservice because it is a good wine. Tightly focused and structured in classic cabernet style. Leafy black fruit with a dusty cedary influence. Very good wine.