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: Vasse Felix

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Vasse Felix

www.vassefelix.com.au

Cnr. Caves Rd and Harmans Rd South, Wilyabrup, 3284

Cellar Door: Daily 10-5

Ph: (08) 9755 1011

The founding winery of the loamy soils of Margaret River (1967). When Dr. Tom Cullity’s 1972 vintage, despite a plague of silver-tails, hit the Perth Wine show, the Margaret River legend was born, and led to a flood of new vineyards in the area.

Most famous of all were the early Cabernet Sauvignons with their delicious fragrance of crushed mulberries and strawberries. The wines are now made from two new sites - the old winery is now just devoted to tasting rooms and a restaurant.

Vasse Felix
Vasse Felix cellar door is about 5 km from Cowaramup where I was staying in a B&B (an easy riding distance)

The vineyard took its unusual name from an early event in the district. Vasse was a French seaman who drowned last century when his longboat overturned near the site of Busselton while exploring the coastline on the ship "Geographe" under Captain Freycinet.

Paradoxically, Felix is the Latin word for fortunate or luck. Thus the name refers to a favoured place in Australia discovered by the French. The bird depicted on the label is a peregrine falcon. The native birds were an immense problem at harvest, so Dr Cullity used trained falcons to deter the silver eyes and parrots.

Virginia Willcox is now the senior wine-maker. She has worked previously at Hayshed Hill, Chestnut Grove and Alexandra Bridge Wines.

Principal red varieties planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot while Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc comprise are the main white varieties.

The standouts are the Heytesbury Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are rich and complex examples of their respective regional styles.

Vasse Felix Cellar
Vasse Felix Cellar is underground - which is a good idea for a wine cellar
virginia
Winemaker Virginia Willock taking barrel samples (photo courtesy Vasse Felix)
Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2014

Purchased: Not ($75)

Drink: 2023

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2016, perfumed, complex and powerful melon. white peach and lemon curd with strong leesy complexity, yellow flowers and some natural malo, smoky and dusty with the firm grapefruit acidity providing the drive, savoury oak brings smoky bacon and clove to the finish  (*****)

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Blend 2012

Purchased: Not ($90)

Drink: 2030+

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2016, a firm blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with some Malbec and Petit Verdot, the Malbec provides the juicy core, perfumed cassis, blueberry and boysenberry with violet and sage votes, long and earthy with drying grainy tannins and the cedar/vanilla oak pitched at a long cellaring style (*****)

Vasse Felix Filius Cabernet Merlot 2014

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2022

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2016, a juicy blend of Cabernet and Merlot with small dashes of Malbec and Petit Verdot, , savoury cassis and redcurrant with a touch of cranberry, medium bodied, earthy with sage and bay leaf notes, fine tannins, mainly seasoned French oak (****)

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2013

Purchased: Not ($38)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2015, this is a long awaited debut release based on the cooler, southern Karridale vineyard that was purchased and developed for premium Chardonnay production, 9 months on lees, no malo, perfumed and succulent and fleshy white peach, white flowers, flint and honeydew melon with yeast and savoury mushroom undertones, tauter shape than typical for the Margaret River, racy malic green apple acidity, the spicy clove/vanilla French oak (45% new) is well integrated for a wine that has just been released (****1/2)

Vasse Felix Can Cut Semillon 2011

Purchased: Not ($23)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2015, bright yellow-golden colour, vibrant and waxy lemon barley, peach, honey, vanilla and lime marmalade with a modest dusting of cinnamon and ginger, well judged acidity cleans up the finish, fresh and good example of this rare style that generally lacks the complexity of botrytis sweet wines but in this case the judicious use of oak brings some toasty spiciness. (****1/2)

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Blend 2011

Purchased: Not ($90)

Drink: 2025+

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2014, the Cabernet Sauvignon is supported by some Petit Verdot and Malbec, pure, slightly leafy and medium-full bodied boysenberry and cassis with violet, mint and sage notes, quite dry, earthy and powerful with some spiciness from the Petit Verdot, finishes with firm, grainy tannin and crunchy acidity, the cedary oak has been pulled back in recent vintages but is assertive, long cellaring style (****1/2)

Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013

Purchased: Not ($24)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2014, partial barrel ferment, aromatic and creamy lemon grass, melon, lime and passionfruit with flint and light berbal notes, long and focussed with a lemon rind spine and chalky, briny phenolics (****1/2)

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2012

Purchased: Not ($60)

Drink: 2022

(GXY) Tasting: June 2014, aromatic and richly flavoured lime, melon and peach with mealy/lees complexity, long and well structured with a dusty phenolic spine, crunchy grapefruit acidity cuts through the richness, finishes with savoury oak with smoky bacon aspects (*****)

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2011

Purchased: Not ($60)

Drink: 2021

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2013, powerful but tightly composed white peach, melon and lemon curd with brioche, gun flint and pineapple notes, very long with savoury and smoked bacon and creamy lees aspects on the finish, crunchy spine of racy lime rind acidity and some dusty phenolics (*****)

Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012

Purchased: Not ($26)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: June 2013, 67% Sauvignon Blanc, 33% Semillon, 15% barrel ferment in French oak, focused and precise lime, lemon and passionfruit with light grassiness, struck match and a dusting of herbs, modestly creamy mid-palate, minerally with crunchy citric rind acidity, light snowpea aspects on the briny, savoury finish, as usual this is one of the regional benchmarks, delightful drive and purity (*****)

Vasse Felix Classic Dry White 2012

Purchased: Vintage Cellars, Toorak ($19)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: June 2013, this is a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blend, rounded and creamy lemon sherbert, cut grass, lime and passionfruit with some dried herb complexity and a touch of lanolin, chalky minerals with crunchy grapefruit acidity cutting through the richness, good value for the price point but rather overshadowed by the SBS blend for a few dollars more (***1/2)

Vasse Felix  Chardonnay 2012

Purchased: Not ($29)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: May 2013, fragrant, fresh and vibrant lime, green apple and pineapple with lemon meringue with toasted almond biscuit complexity, crunchy green apple edged acidity, touches of clove and ginger on the finish (****)

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2010

Purchased: Not ($55)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2012, more funky and concentrated than the standard, rich white peach, melon and lemon curd with brioche and apricot kernel notes, very long with savoury and smoked bacon aspects on the finish, elegant with racy acidity and some briny phenolics (*****)

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2010

Purchased: Not ($27)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2012, partial barrel fermented style showing focussed white peach, lime and melon with toasty honeysuckle and creamy lees notes, some modestly charry vanilla/clove/cashew oak, smooth with crisp lemony acids although the finish seems a little stale (***1/2)

Vasse Felix Classic Dry Red 2003

Drink: 2008

(GXY): Dec 2010, Blend of 58% Shiraz, 19% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot, this one definitely lifted in intensity when I had the second half of the bottle a day after opening, flavoursome medium bodied mulberry, blackcurrant and blackberry with eucalypt and pepper notes, glycerolly mid-palate with mellow tannins and generous creamy sweet cedar-coffee-chocolate oak, not particularly complex (***)

Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2010, Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc or SSB blend at Royal Melbourne Wine Show 2010, small barrel ferment input with 1% of the Sauvignon Blanc fermented on skins to increase savouriness and texture, 59% Sauvignon Blanc, 41% Semillon, fresh and vibrant lychee, lemon and passionfruit with light grassiness, tobacco and a touch of savoury herbs, minerally with well focussed citric rind acidity that builds intensity to a crescendo on the spicy capsicum/lime sherbert finish, precise line and length has lifted this above most other SSBs, the vintage condions kept the Semillon from showing excessive herbaceousness (*****)

Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot 2001

Purchased: King and Godfreys, Carlton, Vic

Drink: 2009

(GXY): Oct 2010, something I pulled out from cellar, 53% Cab Sav, 44% Merlot, 3% Cab Franc, warm harvest with fruit coming in with higher sugar levels and lower acid levels, smooth, earthy and medium bodied with aromas of blueberry, black cherry and warm brown spices, creamy mocha-choc oak with rather soft rounding tannins, probably drunk just past its peak (***1/2)

Vasse Felix Shiraz 2007

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: June 2010, a rich medium-full bodied wine showing spicy and ripe blackberry and mulberry with some sour cherry and tomato nuances, backbone of dusty tannins, the creamy and spicy mocha-chocolate oak nearly masks some slight uneveness in the ripeness but is generally an attractive wine (***1/2)

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2008

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: June 2009, creamy, partial barrel fermented and leesy style showing sweet tropical fruit, nectarine and melon and honeysuckle, seamless integration with the clove, cashew and vanilla from the French oak, some stonefruit and lemon acids but not enough to stop it from feeling a bit cloying and heavy (***1/2)

Vasse Felix Dry Red 2006

Purchased: Vintage Cellars, South Melbourne ($20)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: June 2009, blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot, smooth drink soon style showing plum and redcurrant with some mid-palate fruitcake richness along with some black pepper and aniseed spiciness, there is some of regional minerality shining through, creamy mocha oak, rather gentle tannins and acids (***)

Vasse Felix Estate Shiraz 2006

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: May 2009, bright up front fruits showing black cherry and blackberry with violet and menthol notes, spicy and medium bodied, a bit extractive at first but not very deep, some slight green edges that are overlain by the creamy mocha oak, a bed rock of dusty tannins adds to the finesse (***1/2)

Vasse Felix Semillon 2007

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: June 2008, classy example of what is passible with Semillon as a stand alone in the WA, a real step up from recent vintages, tangy lemon, melon and cut grass, creamy mid-palate with herbal notes, a backbone of chalky lemon acids has infused through the palate, discrete toasty vanilla fills out the dry finish, lovely focus and length (****1/2)

Vasse Felix Classic Dry White 2007

Purchased: Safeways, St. Kilda, Vic ($20)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting: Jan 2008, Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc blend, forward citrus, passionfruit and lemon sherbert with a touch of snowpea on the finish, quite dry with soft barrel ferment mouth feel, lacking in freshness and length, only aspires to be a retail chain quaffer (**1/2)

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2005

Purchased: Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, complex and mouth-filling showing intense white peach, grapefruit, green apple and melon features, vibrant and savoury creamy palate with some nutty lees character, lemon citrus acids with some steely minerality, toasty vanilla oak, great length and balance (****1/2)

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Purchased: Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, supple multi-layered palate with blackberry, black cherry and dark plum with violet and dried herb complexity, medium bodied and earthy with ripe savoury tannins, cedar-vanilla oak in a support role with varietal mintiness (****)

Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

Purchased: Purchased: Not

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, 5% Merlot, cassis and redcurrant nose with anise, spice and mint, palate is a bit mor eto the plum end with chocolate and regional dusty savouriness, sweet vanilla oak and lots of varietal mintiness, archetypical Margaret River Cab Sav (****)

Vasse Felix Shiraz 2002

Purchased: Not

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, blend of 92% Shiraz, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Malbec, 1% Merlot, 16 months in new French and American oak, elegant, perfumed nose of cassis and blueberry flavours with anise, violet and spice, dusty herbal medium bodied palate shows chocolate and lots of mint, fine tannins without the greeness common to this problematic vintage for the region (****)

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2004

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, stylish nose showing intense white peach, grapefruit, apple and vanilla nose, bright palate with some nutty lees character, slight steeliness on finish along with lots of savoury toasty vanilla oak (****1/2)

Vasse Felix Limited Release Viognier 2005

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, just released when tasted at the cellar door, floral nose showing musc, peach and apricot, lively mid-palate with herbal and ginger finish underpinned by well balanced acid, excellent varietal example (****)

Vasse Felix Semillon 2005

Purchased: Not ($24)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, taut and quite intense and zesty flavours of lime and lemon with a minerally finish, crisp finish, should cellar well for those who like their Semillon toasty (***1/2)

Vasse Felix Growers Estate Late Harvest Verdelho 2005

Purchased: Not

Drink: 2006

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, medium dry style, citrus and pineapple flavours with ginger hints, surprisingly taut acid for the variety and style (***1/2)

Vasse Felix Limited Release Tempranillo 2005

Purchased: Not

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, cellar door only,cherry and bramble nose with aniseed and savoury notes, light-medium palate with some chocolate hints, powdery tannins (***)

Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot 2003

Purchased: Not

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 6% Cabernet Franc, blueberry and red currant nose with mocha, vanilla and cedar notes, medium bodied slightly jammy palate with supple tannins and firm acid (***)

VVasse Felix labelasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

Purchased: 2004 ($30)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: April 2004, subtle bouquet with blackcurrant and chocolate, palate shows savoury raspberry at first, morphing into sweet blackberry and mulberry, and finishing off with chocolate and mocha, elegant structure and medium bodied, should peak in about three years (****)

Vasse Felix Shiraz 2000

Purchased: safeways, Smith St, Collingwood, Vic ($39)

Drink: 2006

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2003, blended with small amounts of Cab Sav, Merlot and Malbec, sweet blackcurrant, violets and savoury pepper combine with a slightly sour and slightly green nutty finish, toasty American oak, reasonably well-made but nothing special for the price (***)

Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

(W) Contains 7% Malbec and 5% Merlot, 2002 was coolest vintage since 1993, attractive floral, cassis nose with a minerally nuance and some typical Willyabrup herbal dustiness onthe finish, palate follows with flavours of cassis and flecks of mint with the higher percentage of Merlot giving a rich, fleshy nuance, the tannin structure is tight

Purchased: King and Godfreys, Carlton, Vic

Drink: 2009

(GXY): Not Reviewed Yet