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2016 Tom Cullity

Vasse Felix, Margaret River's founding wine estate, was established by Dr Thomas Brendan Cullity in 1967. Among his first plantings were Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec vines, from which he produced the estate’s first red wine. The Tom Cullity descends from these original vines and represents the pinnacle of Vasse Felix.

Dr Tom Cullity

Dr Tom Cullity was a respected Cardiologist from Western Australia. He discovered the great table wines of Europe in the 1950s while in Britain working at the National Heart Hospital. Upon returning home, Tom set himself a mission to make fine wines in WA. He searched extensively for the perfect plot of land, taking guidance from the research of Professor Harold Olmo (1955) and Dr John Gladstones (1965) before establishing an 8 acre vineyard in Cowaramup called Vasse Felix.

His exhaustive work and persistence led to the successful creation of Margaret River’s first commercial wines. He is remembered for his pioneering role in establishing Margaret River.


Tasting Notes
COLOUR Ruby with a purple hue. NOSE A deep perfume of wild berries reveals distinctive savoury characters, woodsy Margaret River Forest and briny ocean breeze. Intense and powerful with dried rose petal and violet paired with earthy aromas of mushrooms, the spice of fresh cedar, and linseed oil. Hints of peppermint tree leaves are complemented by enticing notes of a canelé pastry and dark chocolate. PALATE Incredibly luscious, rich fruit builds into a long, fine, powdery tannin structure. Refreshing floral notes are expressed throughout the palate with lingering blackcurrant and blackberry. Medium bodied, the complexity of ocean and nori influence pairs beautifully with notes of chocolate, polished leather and exotic spices. An elegant, palpable and clean dry finish with earthy power and wild berry custard tart rounding out this complex palate.
Winemaker Notes
WINEMAKERS NOTES All blocks destemmed only without crushing and then allowed to ferment naturally. The Cabernet Sauvignon (making up 78%) was static fermented, gently pumped over through a splash tub and then left on skins for up to 30 days. This was a particularly brilliant year for tannin ripeness and the time on the skins allowed for the wine to become structurally sound and stabilised. The Malbec and Petit Verdot (making up 22%) were open fermented, hand plunged and pressed dry. The small sections were basket pressed to fine French oak and matured for 19 months. The strength of the fruit in this vintage resulted in a greater contribution from new oak compared to previous vintages.
Production Notes
78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot
Alcohol %
Cellaring Potential:
Now until 2038
Harvest Date
March-April 2016
French Oak Barrique, 80% new, 20% 1-4 year old, 19 months
Residual Sugar:
Residual Sugar
Bottling Date
December 2017
Vintage Notes

Dry warm spring conditions at the end of 2015 helped establish a healthy fruit set and better yields than the previous two seasons. January temperatures were warm, interrupted by one rainfall event late in the month, great viticulture management, clean, well-trimmed canopies and subsequent warm weather prevented disease risk. White varieties were harvested throughout February with elegant flavours and bright natural acidity. January rain gave red varieties a timely drink and moderate long, dry conditions finished them with bright fruit and ripe tannins.

2016 Tom Cullity
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  • Outstanding - Langton's Classification VII

    Langton's Classification VII

    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.

  • 99 points

    Ray Jordan - West Australian

    The best Cullity yet released, confirmed in my own mind at a vertical tasting of the previous vintages. Lifted scents of cedar and subtle bay leaf with crushed rose petal nuances. The palate is deep and powerful with controlled structure of chalky, slightly powdery fine tannins and fine-grained oak. There is a minerally almost sea spray like character cutting through the dark fruits and chocolate richness. Compelling and just magnificent.

  • 97 points (Best of the Best by Variety)

    Jane Faulkner - 2021 Halliday Wine Companion

    It’s a pleasure to spend time with Tom Cullity. This is all about refinement. It has a presence and a whole lot of detail. The fruit savoury and sweet, the iodine and graphite character of the malbec infused into the DNA. There are also finely chiselled tannins, lively acidity and a length like no tomorrow. Sure there’s a power and energy, but the wine’s defining feature is elegance.

  • 98 points-Top 12 Australian Wines 2020

    Tyson Stelzer

    The fragrance of Cabernet and savoury detail of Malbec unite to distinguished effect in this long-ripening season, giving birth to one of the greatest blends in the lauded history of this legendary estate. Intricately scaffolded with ethereal fruit, enduring, powder fine tannins and sensitive oak interlocking seamlessly, this is a masterfully crafted creation. It is impeccably polished from the outset, yet possessing of staggering longevity.

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