Stay in touch with the latest news and happenings at Vasse Felix, in Margaret River and on tour around the world.
Vasse Felix has won two gold medals at the TEXSOM International Wine Awards, and the 2014 TOM CULLITY was named as the ‘Judges’ Selection’ for the Australian Red category.
The gold medal winning wines by Vasse Felix were the 2014 TOM CULLITY and 2016 Chardonnay. Both the 2017 Heytesbury Chardonnay and 2015 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon received Silver in their respective Varietal categories.
258 gold medals were awarded, placing these Vasse Felix wines in the top 8% of total entries, globally.
TEXSOM is one of the world’s most respected wine awards competitions. Entries are blind-tasted and judged by 66 internationally renowned tastemakers from five countries including 16 Sommeliers and 17 Masters of Wine. Entries from all over the world included wines priced from USD $2.99 to $700 and vintages spanning 36 years, with the oldest red being 1983.
The results can be viewed online here.
Now widely recognised for premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River wines have won prestigious awards and accolades around the world. Cabernet in Western Australia was originally founded on ‘Houghton clone’ selections, which is the predominant clone of Cabernet grown in Margaret River. Many of Margaret River’s greatest Cabernets (including the TOM CULLITY) have been made with a focus on this clone.
In Western Australia the introduction of Cabernet Sauvignon grapevine material is thought to have occurred between the years of 1836 to 1895 (Ward and Cameron, 2013). The direct origin of the material is unknown, however its likely origins are thought to be from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa in 1836, where Tomas Waters brought grape vine cuttings from a Constantia vineyard near Cape Town.
In 1911, a catalogue by J.Hawter listed Cabernet Sauvignon among 111 varieties of grapes, describing it as “the choicest red wine grape of the Bordeaux class, but a shy bearer.” Cabernet Sauvignon remained an insignificant variety in Western Australia until the 1930s due to the low bearing nature of the variety.
West Australian cuttings are believed to have come from the original bush vines at Houghton Vineyard near the Swan River, which was driven by Jack Mann in the 1930s. All cuttings derived from this original source are now known in Western Australia as the ‘Houghton clone’ as this is its only ‘known’ origin. These eventually became the source for the first Cabernet Sauvignon planted in Margaret River in 1967 at Vasse Felix and most of the region’s vineyards planted up until the 1990s.
‘Houghton clone’ Cabernet often displays lower vigor vines with lower yields, and offers a lovely density, displaying both power and elegance. This clone is now a focus for premium Cabernet Sauvignon in Margaret River due to its clearer, finer distinction.
Much of this historical information was taken from “Cabernet Sauvignon in Western Australia”, compiled by Glynn Ward and Ian Cameron, Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia.
Summer in Margaret River means beach mornings, stunning (albeit breezy) sunsets and the palpable feeling of anticipation as the region’s viticulturists and winemakers study the weather night and day to nurture their grapes through their ripening.
In addition to the wine tours, long lunches, caves, lighthouses, ancient forests and beaches, the Vasse Felix Cellar Door team have put together a selection of their favourite places and activities to help you make the most of your next visit.
In town? Grab a coffee or breakfast at the boho meets shabby chic, Margaret River Bakery. Also find great coffee at Sidekick or Witchcliffe's Yardbyrd.
Stroll from Prevelly to White Elephant Cafe for breakfast with unrivalled beach views.
Not a surfer? Hire a SUP board or kayak and explore Margaret River from the Rivermouth or head to the sheltered waters of Castle Bay.
Have a morning swim, then a coffee and pie at Gracies General Store or Yallingup Coffee Van.
Saturday AM, visit Margaret River Farmer’s Market to grab farm-fresh produce for a picnic.
Hike along Conto’s Clifftop Walk, part of the Cape to Cape Track. Sunscreen, water and sneakers essential! Image @capetocapeexplorertours
Stock up on biodynamic bread, baked daily by Yallingup / Margaret River Woodfired Bread.
Hike or bike the Wadandi track, part of the international Rails to Trails collection that runs along the former Busselton to Flinders Bay Railway.
Buy gourmet, local meat from The Farmhouse for a BBQ at Surfer’s Point to catch the sunset. (Top with condiments from Providore and Vasse Felix wine!)
Check out local and Australian art at Jah Roc Gallery, such as their bespoke wooden furniture.
Walk the Southern Hemisphere’s longest wooden plank jetty; Busselton Jetty. Fun fact, its original beams are used in the Vasse Felix Restaurant.
Play it cool at new-generation concept stores like Sugarman or Margaret River Collaborative.
The kids will LOVE Simmos Ice Creamery, Dunsborough or Candy Cow fudge, Cowaramup.
Capture the ultimate sunset photo or selfie at Sugarloaf Rock, Cape Naturaliste or at Redgate Beach.
Explore local studios like Sensei Pots (makers of Vasse Felix tablewear) or visit in April for Margaret River’s Open Studios to meet esteemed local artists.
“It’s hard to top the taste of fresh, line-caught fish, cooked to perfection with minimal additions. This recipe does just that, including some baking tips you can apply to any fish, plus a funky chilli, miso sauce to pair perfectly with the crisp acidity and wild ferment characters of the Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc Semillon.”
CHEF BRENDAN PRATT
1 Honeycomb Cod approx. 1kg (scaled and gutted)
200g butter, at room temperature
1 tbl spoon loganma brand chilli paste in oil
1 tbl spoon gochujang (Korean fermented chilli paste)
1 tbl spoon white miso paste
1 tbl spoon white wine vinegar 1 tsp sea salt
Oil for pan frying
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
Using sharp scissors, trim off the fish’s wings and fins.
In a stand mixer, add the softened butter and whip with the paddle attachment until slightly white and fluffy. Add the chilli paste, gochujang, miso, white wine vinegar and salt. Whip to combine and set aside.
In a large cast iron pan (or similar) add a tablespoon of oil and heat until it starts to shimmer. Season each side of the fish with sea salt and gently place the fish into the hot pan, sear first side for 1 minute on a medium heat, flip over and place into the oven for 5 minutes.
Remove the fish from the oven and gently flip the fish onto the other side, being careful to release the skin from the pan so it doesn’t stick. Return the pan to oven for approximately 12-15 minutes.
Gently heat half of the butter in a small pan on a low heat.
Using a metal skewer, gently test the thickest part of the fish’s fillet. If the skewer penetrates the flesh with no resistance, the fish is ready, if not return for a few more minutes and test again.
Remove the fish from the oven, add the cold butter to the pan and let it foam. Using a big spoon, baste the fish with the foaming chilli butter, being sure to evenly coat the fish in foaming butter. This will help to finish cooking the fish, trap in the moisture and also impart flavour on the flesh.
To finish, plate the fish on a large plate and dress it with some of the warm melted chilli butter.
Margaret River hosted it's seventh annual Gourmet Escape food and wine festival from 16 - 18 November 2018.
A highlight was Friday night's Cabernet Society event at the Estate, which saw the 'Inaugural 52' members gather for a night of Cabernet cult worship.
Guests enjoyed small-make project wines, museum vintage Vasse Felix Cabernet and pre-release barrel samples, all of which were paired with dishes by Head Chef Brendan Pratt, specially created to make the King of all Grape Varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon) sing.
The night concluded with a mysterious induction into the Society - topping up a barrel of ageing Cabernet - and a very interesting after-party in the Red Barrel Hall.
Saturday night saw the tricolour come to Vasse Felix for a unique tasting of both iconic French and Margaret River wine and food. Guests were treated to some incredible wines throughout the evening, including Grand Cru Burgundy and White Bordeaux, as well as Vasse Felix Icons - Heytesbury Chardonnay and TOM CULLITY.
To complete this line-up, Head Chef Brendan Pratt was joined by Laetitia Rouabah, the revered French-born Head Chef of Alain Ducasse’s flagship New York bistro Benoit, to combine the finest local produce with elements of Paris and the Big Apple, creating an exclusive modern feast in Wine Paradise.
Our travelling food and wine refuge known as Bar Felix returned to Gourmet Village this year with two new Wine Schools exploring our black market range - Pretty 1 (Petit Verdot) and Blanc VI (Sauvignon Blanc Semillon).
Following heavy demand on Saturday, our Specialty Label Blanc de Blancs was made available (much to the delight of festival-goers), while we also poured Classic Dry White on tap, Filius Chardonnay and Filius Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Bar Felix food offerings were again a hit, with the Chefs barely keeping up with the demand for our Smoked Brisket Sliders!
Think you qualify as a cult worshipper of Cabernet Sauvignon? Read our rules below to see if you could make the cut for the Cabernet Society...
1. The first rule of Cabernet Society is you don't talk about the Cabernet Society.
2. When we meet, we eat. The food matches the wine, not the other way around.
3. If you have to be seen to be ordering Pinot to keep up appearances or for your own safety, that's fine, but you may not swallow.
4. While Cabernet can be serious, the Society never is.
We were thrilled to again receive Two Hats at the 2019 Australian Good Food Guide Awards in Melbourne this October. The Vasse Felix Restaurant was one of only four WA Restaurants, all from the Margaret River Region, to receive this prestigious accolade.
This is the second year in a row that our Restaurant has received Two Hats since this rating system was extended to the West Coast two years ago. It is a great achievement for our Restaurant team who work hard to consistently showcase the best regional produce to complement our Wine Collection.
"A Margaret River founding winery, still pushing boundaries from vine to plate... Service leads the pack in the region, the dining room is warm and stylish, hewn from wood and stone. But the real draw here is still the meeting of culinary and wine talent." 16/20, Two Hats, Australian Good Food Guide 2019
This is one of a few glowing reviews the Restaurant has received recently, the latest of which was from Max Veenhuyzen in Gourmet Traveller who wrote, "The service remains polished, the dining world-class, and Carr's successor, Brendan Pratt (The Fat Duck, The Ledbury), is a young go-getter who brings both humility and serious kitchen experience to the role. After a year in the hot seat, Pratt has made the menu his own. Grilled marron is paired with bonito cream and crunchy farro, puréed corn with mushroom XO sauce demonstrates respect for vegetarians, and bigoli with hazelnut, pecorino and shavings of truffle exemplifies the kitchen's broad reach."
This is in addition to our recent success in the WA Good Food Guide Awards, where Vasse Felix was named #7 of the Top 50 WA Restaurants. A stellar month for Vasse Felix and the Margaret River dining scene!
More information on the Good Food Guide Awards here.
Pictured: Kingfish, cucumber, shallot, endive.
On Friday 7 September, we delved into the world of Margaret River Chardonnay, tasting unfinished Chardonnay barrel samples from the most recent 2018 vintage. Over 40 producers throughout the region shared 80 samples for the tasting.
The vintage discussion was led by Clive Otto of Fraser Gallop Estate and Vasse Felix Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock, and centred around the Margaret River heritage Gingin clone, as well as key highlights of the 2018 vintage.
What did we learn? The 2018 vintage was once again a cooler vintage, producing more elegant wines with fresh acidity and prominent fragrance. The pristine environment of our Wine Paradise is allowing more producers to embrace wild ferments and create unique site expressive wines.
And the Vasse Felix samples? They looked very complex and true to their individual vineyard character in the large tasting group!
Langton’s Classification of Australian wine is the paramount form guide to Australia’s finest wines. Entry into the Classification is based on a wine’s reputation. Compiled since 1990 and released at approximately four-year intervals, the Classification tracks the leading wines, and documents the dramatic growth and increasing maturity of the Australian fine wine scene over the years.
The latest Classification - VII includes only 136 Australian wines, and of Western Australia’s 12 Classified wines, 10 are from Margaret River - three of which are Vasse Felix wines.
The TOM CULLITY was awarded an ‘Outstanding’ classification while both the Heytesbury Chardonnay (new to the Classification) and the Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon received an ‘Excellent’ classification.
Classification Tier Descriptions
The most highly prized of all Australian fine wines. Representing generations of effort and character of place.
The best of Australian winemaking practices, vineyard provenance and regional voice.
Australian wines of consistent merit. Steadfast, popular and expressive.
Tom Cullity Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec - Outstanding
"Sourced from the original vines planted in 1967 by Doctor Tom Cullity, the Tom Cullity Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec represents a multi-generational journey of innovation based on trial and error. Based on Houghton clone cabernet sauvignon and malbec, refined vinification techniques and maturation for 18 months in French oak, this wine validates and continues the Heytesbury narrative. Vibrant blackcurrant and herb garden aromas, fine-grained tannins, sous-bois (forrest floor) notes, generous concentration and integrated new oak mark the style."
Heytesbury Chardonnay - Excellent
"The glorious and expressive Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay is made up of individual sections of the Gin Gin clone. It evokes an exquisite balance between vineyards, emotional sensibility and technical brilliance. Batch vinification, bâttonage and maturation for nine months in around 60% (barely detectable) new and seasoned French oak results in a benchmark style with superb grapefruit and flinty aromatics, al dente textures and creamy complexity."
Cabernet Sauvignon - Excellent
"The historic, estate-grown Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon is the bellwether champion of the Margaret River region. Vasse Felix made the first cabernet sauvignon in Margaret River in 1972, and this wine has been made every year since. Comprised of cabernet sauvignon (88%) based primarily on Houghton clone material, this blend also often includes merlot, petit verdot or cabernet franc. Traditionally vinified and matured in new (40-55%) and seasoned French barriques for 16 to 18 months, it is an intensely fragrant style with blackcurrant, cedar and herb garden aromas, generous flavours and fine-grained tannins."
Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock was this year invited to present at both the Australia Decanted and TEXSOM events in the US.
Virginia was one of 13 winemakers to present at Australia Decanted from 22-26 July at Lake Tahoe, an event that was attended by over 100 US trade and media. Virginia was part of the panel who hosted the Cabernet Sauvignon Terroirs session, exploring the three great regions for Australian Cabernet Sauvignon: Margaret River, Coonawarra and the Yarra Valley. The Australia Decanted event was an incredible platform for Virginia to share our passion for the Margaret River wine region and the unique style of wine it produces.
Following the very successful Australia Decanted event, Virginia travelled to Las Colinas, Texas for the 2018 TEXSOM Sommelier Conference. It is an incredibly rare opportunity to be invited by the Master Sommeliers to present at the TEXSOM conference. The attendees include some of the most intellectual Sommeliers and Masters of Wine in the US wine market.
Virginia hosted an 'Iconic retrospective vertical tasting' which featured an impressive lineup of Vasse Felix historical wines, including the 1985 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon of which there are only six bottles left at the Estate! For Virginia to be able to present to this market and have them blown away by our wines, the Estate and the Margaret River region was simply phenomenal.
We hope that these efforts will continue to grow the recognition and appreciation of the quality of Margaret River wine.
James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion 2019 has officially been released, with both Vasse Felix Icon wines receiving excellent reviews, both receiving a rating of 97 points.
“The reach and power is something to behold.” (2014 TOM CULLITY)
"The touch is light, the effect dramatic." (2015 Cabernet Sauvignon)
"Has the intensity, complexity and drive expected of Vasse Felix.." (2016 Chardonnay)
The Halliday Wine Companion, recognised as the industry benchmark for Australian wine is eagerly anticipated year after year for winemakers and wine lovers alike.
James Halliday's Reviews:
2014 TOM CULLITY - 97 POINTS
The ship slowly turns and sets sail for the future. It’s not the deepest or darkest of wines at first, but give it time
to breathe and the reach and power is something to behold. It tastes of blackcurrant and camphor, bay leaves
and black olives, smoky oak applied as an infusion rather then anything terribly overt. Flavour - most certainly.
Tannic power - oh yes. Explosive length - most definitely. Screwcap. 14.5% alc. Rating 97. Drink To 2039.
2016 HEYTESBURY CHARDONNAY - 97 POINTS
A wine all about finesse and length - extreme length. The inexorable drive and logic of the bouquet and
(in particular) the palate leaves little room for argument, but plenty for discussion. Pink grapefruit, pear,
nectarine and a satin bow of oak are all as one. Screwcap. 13% alc. Rating 97. Drink to 2030.
2015 SHIRAZ - 96 POINTS
This is a medium to full-bodied shiraz that has such pinpoint clarity it is able to tread lightly. It’s all about high
quality fruit that has been given the oak support it needs, but not one iota more. Its texture and structure are
admirable, the black fruits with a slightly savoury twist by the carefully extracted tannins. Screwcap. 14% alc.
Rating 96. Drink To 2035.
2016 CHARDONNAY - 95 POINTS
Has the intensity, complexity and drive expected of Vasse Felix, with layers of white peach, pear and sotto
voce grapefruit paired with the all-important acidity. There’s an argument to be made - this offers the best
value of the three ‘16 Vasse Felix Chardonnays. Screwcap. 13% alc. Rating 95. Drink To 2027.
2015 CABERNET SAUVIGNON - 95 POINTS
A medium-weight cabernet to show more bulkier renditions a clean set of heels. This is a slashing way to
present cabernet. Energetic and bright, yet fluid and soft. It boasts just enough weight and power to build
good momentum through the palate, but at no point does it press too hard, or for too much. Bay leaf, black
olive and blackcurrant flavours are the main conveyors here. Tannin is a light sheet through the back half of
the wine. The touch is light, the effect dramatic. Screwcap. 14% alc. Rating 95. Drink to 2035.
2017 SAUVIGNON BLANC SEMILLON - 94 POINTS
Stamped with class. The texture, the intensity of flavour, the acceleration of the finish. Indeed it’s difficult - and
pointless - to single out individual flavours because it all seems so unified. It’s an excellent white wine from all
angles, with elegance included. Screwcap. 12.5% alc. Rating 94. Drink To 2023.
2017 CLASSIC DRY WHITE - 93 POINTS
2016 FILIUS CABERNET MERLOT - 92 POINTS
2016 FILIUS CHARDONNAY - 90 POINTS
2016 CLASSIC DRY RED - 90 POINTS