Stay in touch with the latest news and happenings at Vasse Felix, in Margaret River and on tour around the world.
Last week's morning sunrise harvest at our Darch E Block in our Boodjidup Vineyard. Some of our "Grand Cru" plots, this block unearths immaculate parcels of Gingin clone Chardonnay, with these fruit parcels finding their way time and again into our Heytesbury Chardonnay given their striking character, phenolic tension and palette weight, which are unique to this site.
We look forward to the 2022 Heytesbury expression, with some snippets of this pick below, as well as Chief Winemaker, Virginia Willcock's update on vintage 2022.
The week just gone saw the arrival of our 2022 vintage crew to the Estate, which includes some specialist winemakers who were able to join us from interstate, alongside our longstanding winemaking and viticulture teams.
Our annual welcome breakfast of bacon and egg rolls set the perfect tone for the crew to settle in, meet the broader Vasse Felix team and share stories of vintages past and present, from wine regions around the world.
The excitement for vintage 2022 has been palpable, with scenes below from the first harvest of Gingin clone Chardonnay from the Gibraltar blocks in our Home Vineyard, with fruit looking pristine. Catch Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock's recap on the first week of vintage below.
A huge thank you to everyone who has signed up for the all-important job to help us handpick the grapes this season, we look forward to sharing more behind the scenes stories from vintage soon.
Follow @vassefelixwines on Instagram for more.
Our vineyard teams remain busy preparing for vintage 2022. Some recent scenes from Tom's Blocks in our Home Vineyard depict Bart Molony our Chief Viticulturist, undertaking the important and sentimental job of restoring a couple of rows that were grafted to Shiraz in previous decades, back to Cabernet Sauvignon.
These canes are now at a stage where they need to be tied to wire to encourage desired vine structure and promote future growth and yields. We are looking forward to seeing the expressions these vines will unearth on our original heritage Cabernet rootstocks.
We are also starting to see our Gibraltar Block, Home Vineyard Chardonnay moving through veraison after a slightly slower start to the growing season - a result of cooler spring conditions.
Our vineyard team will be keenly monitoring these parcels and their soil health, as they continue to ripen and develop their distinct flavours and we look forward to unearthing these expressions that are so crucial to our Icon and Premier wines.
Discover more below.
The Viticulture team have been busy preparing our vineyards for the coming Vintage as they turn their attention to under-vine weeding and composting.
Scenes from the Home Vineyard below detail mechanical under-vine weeding, a process that helps to eliminate undergrowth competing for nutrients and incorporate organic matter into the soil.
The team have been turning compost, a mix of leftover grape marc, cow manure and woodchips to ensure aeration so that material can break down quickly and evenly. Turning over compost also acts as a way to control the temperature so that vital microbes do not burn out. This high-value compost is then applied to weaker areas to deliver nutrients that help strengthen struggling vines ahead of Vintage. It also acts as a mulch helping soil retain moisture in the warmer months.
After a cooler Spring, the vines have been enjoying the sunshine over the last weeks, timed beautifully to help with their development. Keep scrolling for more highlights.
We are thrilled with the reviews of vintages from the past year as featured in The West Australian Wine Guide 2022 by Ray Jordan.
We are particularly excited to see our icon wines, the 2019 Heytesbury Chardonnay and 2017 TOM CULLITY, receiving stellar reviews. For us these reviews reflect our commitment to making 'the best possible wine' with the two varietals Margaret River is known for, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Full reviews can be found below.
"There’s a crunchy purity about this entry-level chardonnay. Vibrant acidity lifts the citrus tang and grapefruit character with the light touch of oak just adding a little to the palate without compromising what is designed as an early-drinking wine. A joy to drink.
Cellar: 5 years "
"A wonderful expression of this cool vintage, displaying more restraint and delicacy than the marvellous 2018. Wild yeast and some malolactic fermentation have contributed to the beautifully textured mouthfeel. Minerally with a fine citrus edge cuts through a palate of intensity and depth that explodes through to a very long finish.
Cellar: 7 years"
"Refined and so elegantly crafted chardie. Has more new oak than the standard chardie, but the power and intensity of the fruit handles it easily. Without a hint of excessiveness. Only natural yeasts are used and it gets nine months in oak with some battonage. Has a slightly charry character that augments the intense grapefruit and pear characters on the palate. Long and defined palate. One of the finest yet under this label.
Cellar: 12 years"
"This great-value cabernet has become a winner for Vasse Felix. Blackcurrant varietal fruit with a bay leaf and perfumed red berry lift on the nose. A trace of dusty oyster shell on the palate. So well balanced and focused to a long finish.
Cellar: 10 years"
"Oh, my. What a stunning wine, made more stunning when you can get it for less than $50. Deep and concentrated power delivered with integrated elegance and poise. This is classically structured cabernet displaying all the power and purpose you get from this variety in a great year from Margaret River. Chalky tannins, powerhouse middle core with a great lingering finish. Deep, leafy, oyster shell cabernet minerality. You simply must get some of this.
Cellar: 15 years"
"This is an 82 per cent cabernet-dominant blend, making it the highest percentage of cabernet of any of the release to date. Immediately strikes as the most restrained, elegant and medium bodied of any of the vintages. Now, there is a deal of tannin astringency evident on the palate but it sits snuggly within. Fine, silky tannins and what appears to be about an average amount of new French oak consistent with the rest of the wines, with 2016 being an exception. This to me is another wine that strongly reflects the vintage, which tends more towards medium body and restraint- elegance. To me this is a wine you will drink earlier before the others are ready, but it is still a very good wine.
Cellar: 25 years"
We are thrilled to share that the 2019 Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc was included in Ray Jordan's Top 100 Whites today in The West Australian.
Awarded 95 Points "Winemaker Virginia Willcock has pushed into exotic areas with this little beauty... Has a delightful savoury, primary lemony combination, with a slightly nutty, creamy texture. Finishes with a dry savouriness. Lovely wine"
The 2021 Classic Dry White was also selected in the Top 100 wines scoring 90pts, as well as Idée Fixe Premier Brut scoring 93pts, from a tasting of over 750 wines. Full reviews can be found below
"Always nails this style of blended white wine. It’s a 62/38 split of semillon and sauvignon blanc. Plenty of crunchy celery and racy fruit characters. The palate is tight and lively with a zesty fruit character. Best for drinking in the short term."
"Winemaker Virginia Willcock has pushed into exotic areas with this little beauty. It’s mostly savvy with about 11 per cent semillon. It was wild fermented in French oak foudres. It also has some time in puncheons and barriques and there’s quite a high percentage of new oak. I suspect Virginia has had a bit of fun mucking about with this. Has a delightful savoury, primary lemony combination, with a slightly nutty, creamy texture. Finishes with a dry savouriness. Lovely wine."
"This is a newer one from Vasse Felix as part of a major commitment to sparkling wine from Margaret River. It is sourced from the cool-climate fruit of Karridale to the south and is one of the most promising wines released in WA in the past 12 months."
You can find the full 2021 top list here
Decanting allows oxygen to mingle with the various aroma, tannin and alcohol components in a wine, bringing to life these complex elements that have been ‘trapped’ in the bottle. All things need oxygen to breathe and wines with layers of flavour, complex structural elements and real depth are no different.
Aged wines (10 years and older) in particular tend to accumulate sediment over time. Whilst it’s an important piece of a good aged wine, sediment is not something you want in your glass when enjoying a cellar selection. Here’s a guide to help you to best enjoy your favourite wine, young or old, when you next choose.
Vasse Felix Head Chef, Brendan Pratt spoke to John Lethlean on the sustainable practices of Australia's leading restaurants, and how using 'waste' from one dish can be used to enhance another, adding layers of intrigue and unexpected dimensions of flavour and texture.
"Being in a remote location, where suppliers need to be managed carefully, Brendan Pratt in Margaret River takes some fairly innovative ideas to the concept of utilising as much of his raw produce as possible.
In the Vasse Felix kitchen, Pratt takes whole eels, for example, using the flesh to make a sauce and the skin, bones and head to make a garum, or fish sauce, which he uses to season dashi.
With whole Patagonian Toothfish, caught in the sub-Antarctic by Perth seafood company Austral, Pratt dry-ages, and then smokes the frames before breaking them down to cook with Japanese ingredients to make a tare, or dipping sauce. Beef fat, rather than being discarded, is used to make various butters and sauces.
“Quite often this process opens our minds up to new ideas of luxury,” Pratt says, “as well as adding more incredible flavours and textural elements to our dishes.
“Often the so-called ‘waste’ from preparation of one dish feeds into another.”
Restaurant customers, he says, need to ask more questions about where and how what they are eating has been sourced, prepared and treated.
“Knowledge is power,” he says. “And if more customers demanded better and were understanding of the costs to a business to exercise an environmental conscience, we might be able to effect change a lot faster.”
Full article is available HERE
Earlier this week our Winery team, Charline Sautour and Tim Fearon, led by Chief Winemaker Virginia Wilcock, began making blending and grading decisions for our 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon.
An incredibly important time where each and every barrel will be tasted to ensure that select parcels possess the elegance and generosity to make it into our premier wine.
From the time we harvest, right through to maturation and fermentation each little parcel of fruit is kept separate to enable traceability back to each vineyard block.
“A bright, rich and deep enhancement for fatty fish (such as Patagonian Toothfish, Swordfish, or Dhufish), lobster or poultry dishes. The subtle kombu and anchovy nuances add beautiful complexities and umami, for the perfect Chardonnay pairing.”
350ml white wine vinegar
150g sliced shallot
5g black peppercorns
30ml vinegar reduction
10ml lemon juice
3x egg yolks
500g clarified butter (slightly warmed Ghee butter)
20g anchovy extract
15g kombu extract
25g seaweed paste
NB. Though we make our own extracts at Vasse Felix, you can find quality alternatives at The Grocer online or any good Asian grocer.
Place vinegar, shallots, and peppercorns in a saucepan, bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until reduced by two-thirds (this should take two to three minutes). Strain through a fine sieve and set aside to cool, discarding the strained solids.
NB. I like to make a little extra so it’s ready for the next time you want to make the sauce. The reduction will keep in a jar for three to four weeks in the fridge.
Combine the egg yolks and reduction in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water (water shouldn’t be touching the bowl).
Whisk the mixture, rotating bowl occasionally, until pale and thick (approximately two minutes), then remove from the heat and place on a wet tea towel to hold it steady.
Add the clarified butter in a thin steady stream while whisking continuously until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is slightly thickened.
Add in the anchovy extract, kombu extract and seaweed paste, whisk to combine and set aside in a warm location. This sauce can be made two to three hours in advance, as long as it can be stored in an airtight container, at around 35-40 degrees. If the sauce cools, it cannot be reheated as it will split.
Serve with your favourite white flesh fish or a barbequed Western Rock Lobster for a luxurious festive pairing!
Best enjoyed with the 2020 Vasse Felix Chardonnay.