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.
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.
Outstanding - 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.
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.
The 2016 fruit has a salivating saltiness about it. Led by red berries and cassis it is pure and concentrated. This is almost shimmering in its power and drive. It is very long through the finish; it is hard to know when it ends. The tannins are fine, crushed powder fine. It speaks of balance and harmony. It manages to convey power without weight, it is medium bodied and silky. A gloriously complex, fine and beautiful cabernet.