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 purest expression of our history, place and vintage; 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.
Tom’s tenacious and enduring persistence led to the successful creation of Margaret River’s first commercial wines. He is remembered for his pioneering role in establishing the Margaret River Wine Region. The TOM CULLITY is a fitting tribute to this extraordinary legacy.
2017 was a cooler and later vintage than the previous 10 years; a year of elegant, structural, slightly lighter bodied wines; though ripe in flavour, vibrant and very perfumed. Higher than average yields in combination with a cooler season contributed to delayed ripening of the fruit and good retention of acidity. Some timely warmth and sunshine occurred throughout January, although February temperatures remained moderate with some rainfall. With the cooler weather, canopy management and fruit thinning was imperative to mitigate disease pressures and allow for even, persistent ripening. There was a warm start to March to finish the white harvest, followed by the driest April since 1982, allowing the reds to ripen beautifully.
Deep red/purple colour with a very fresh, nuanced, aromatic bouquet loaded with blue and red fruits, cedar and high-toned flowers, violets to the fore. A totally gorgeous bouquet, very fresh and primary but also complex and detailed. Very fine tannins; extremely long carry. A supremely elegant, sublime wine that finishes right out with impressive extension. Clearly, the best Tom Cullity to date.
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. A deal of tannin astringency is 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. To me, this is a wine you will drink earlier before the others are ready, but it is still a very good wine. 97/100 (Best Drinking: Now to 2046)
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.
I was struck from the outset by its elegance. It’s 14.5% alcohol but it’s medium in weight at most. There’s tension here but it’s in a context of calmness; confidence. Bay leaf notes, boysenberry and plum, mint, a creaminess, a cool blackcurrant, liquorice. There’s an ‘aussie bush spice’ aspect to the nose in particular but it’s there on the palate too. You can pretty much read peppercorn/eucalypt into that. Tannin is fine and generally even. I sat down with this over two consecutive nights and enjoyed it thoroughly without ever really being bowled over, though clearly it’s more about the future than the now. In short, it’s a classy, confident, medium-weight wine with a lovely future ahead of it.