Tag: Vasse Felix

Jul 07 2012

Fraser Gallop: Margaret River’s Most Talked About Winery!

Posted on July 07, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

For an estate that is only 12 years old, Fraser Gallop has certainly attracted a good deal of attention. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon won two trophies at the Margaret River Wine Show – Best Red Wine of Show and Best Single Vineyard Estate Red, and winemaker Clive Otto was named a finalist in last year’s Gourmet Traveller’s Wine Winemaker of the Year Awards.

Given the pedigree and experience of the team behind the brand, the growing list of accolades for its relatively young wines is probably not surprising.

Founder Nigel Gallop was on a mission to produce premium Bordeaux style cabernets when in 1998 he settled on 17 hectares of land in the Wilyabrup region. The potential of this Bordeaux-like terroir to produce great cabernet had already been proven by the likes of Moss Wood, Cullen, Pierro and Vasse Felix. From the beginning Gallop decided against irrigation, because he wanted to keep yields low and quality high. Today, this intensive, hands-on approach to vineyard management is overseen by vineyard manager Paul Pavlinovich.

As luck or good fortune would have it, in 2006 Gallop secured the services of experienced winemaker Clive Otto. Discussing Otto’s many achievements, wine critic Peter Forrestal observed, “With a hands-on approach to winemaking and a wealth of experience here and abroad, Clive Otto has been crucial to the rise and rise of Margaret River.” (Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year 2011 finalist: Clive Otto, Fraser Gallop by Peter Forrestal, August/September 2011)

Otto joined Fraser Gallop after a long and stellar career at Vasse Felix, where he oversaw the introduction of the flagship Heytesbury wines and insured that the Vasse Felix range was a perennial winner at leading wine shows.

Otto was attracted to Fraser Gallop because it offered … Read the rest

Jun 06 2012

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2010 – “A New Wave of Chardonnay”

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In a recent article on Australian chardonnay, the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman commented that when it comes to a preferred style of chardonnay, most people “want grace and elegance, but they want it to come with plenty of flavor and real charm.” (Action in Australian Chardonnay: New styles modeled on Burgundy make it the buzz of the country now by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 2 December 2011)

The multi-award winning Vasse Felix Heystesbury Chardonnay 2010 is certainly a very fine example of the style of chardonnay Steiman so succinctly describes. In the tasting notes, Vasse Felix’s Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock remarked that the palate of the 2010 vintage “exhibits that wonderful and rare quality: power with restraint.” In other words, it delivers what most people would consider the hallmarks of a great chardonnay:

A dramatic and powerful nose that is constantly evolving in the glass. Amongst the descriptors are sublime fragrant citron and baby pineapple, while wild notes of lamb’s fat and struck flint provide a beguiling complexity that lift the floral and spice fruit perfume and frame a stunning Heytesbury Chardonnay nose.

Palate. Super fine, textured and succulent with impeccable balance and poise driven by seamless natural acidity. Juicy white nectarine and preserved lemon puree form a strong fruit core which is embellished with flavours of spicy oak, lanolin and flint. (Vasse Felix tasting notes)

The 2010 Heytesbury Chardonnay is in fact Vasse Felix’s most awarded wine to date. The wine has picked up an unprecedented eight trophies from the top wine shows in the country, including the Royal Adelaide Wine Show, where it won the coveted top prize, “Most Outstanding Red or White Wine in Show.”

In many respects the 2010 vintage represents the most recent incarnation of a style of chardonnay that Willcock has been developing and … Read the rest

Feb 02 2011

Vasse Felix Heytesbury: In the Style of the Finest Bordeaux Blends

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

As I mentioned in my previous post, Vasse Felix, established in 1967, is the oldest commercial winery in the Margaret River. Interestingly, Kevin and Diana Cullen, who planted their experimental vineyards a year earlier than Vasse Felix, helped Tom Cullity acquire the 8 acre Wilyabrup estate that forms the core of the Vasse Felix holdings today. The site, with its gravelly loam, well drained soil and cool sea breezes (Vasse Felix is only 4 km from the coast) is considered ideal for growing cabernet sauvignon grapes in particular.

The winery was bought by the Holmes a Court family in 1987 and Virginia Willcock has been directing the winemaking operations for the the last four years. The cabernet, malbec and shiraz from the original vineyard planted in 1967 are still producing beautiful and consistent fruit. Dry irrigated, Willcock’s describes these old vines as having a distinctive peppy leaf character. Both the cabernet and malbec are used in the winery’s top wine, the Heytesbury red blend.

With the 2007 vintage, the Heytesbury moved towards a more typical Bordeaux style blend: 72 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 15 per cent malbec and 13 per cent petit verdot. The fruit for the Heytesbury is hand picked and after the initial fermentation the wine is drained to oak and basket pressed. All batches are vinified separately and following 18 months maturation in the finest French oak barriques, (92 per cent new) each batch undergoes a rigorous appraisal process to identify the best performing barrels for the final blend.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown of The Wine Advocate awarded the 2007 vintage 92 points:

Possessing a very deep garnet purple color, it’s scented of ripe blackberry and crushed blueberries with some graphite, coffee grounds, cedar and a faint whiff of thyme. Big and fruity in the mouth with refreshing Read the rest

Feb 02 2011

Margaret River: Australia’s Answer to Bordeaux!

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Is Margaret River Australia’s answer to Bordeaux? After spending a week looking at some of the best estates on Bordeaux’s Left Bank, I couldn’t help thinking about the similarities between Bordeaux and Margaret River. Like Bordeaux, Margaret River shines at making cabernet sauvignon blends and one of its signature whites is a typical Bordeaux blend of sauvignon blanc and semillion.

No surprise then to learn that the renowned agronomist Dr. John Gladstones from the University of Western Australia published two reports in 1965 and 1966 respectively that confirmed Margaret River as an ideal region for viticulture and compared the climate to Bordeaux’s Pomeral region.

In fact, Margaret River’s climate is much more sympathetic to grape growing than Bordeaux. Summer rain is almost virtually non-existent, allowing the grapes in most years to fully ripen and avoid problems like mildew and rot that can plague Bordeaux’s vines. Its maritime location – the furthest part of Margaret River is about 7 km from the Indian Ocean – creates a temperate climate that insures a long growing season, while also accommodating earlier ripening varieties such as chardonnay – another variety for which Margaret River has established a great reputation. While Margaret River’s top winemakers can single out the top vintages over the region’s short 40 plus year history, vintage variation is far less of an issue in Margaret River than it is in Bordeaux.

Like Bordeaux, the terroir of Margaret River is ancient. Ranging from 150 to 200 metres above sea level, the best vineyards are on a ridge, which was once a granitic island and considered to be one of the oldest land masses in the world. The weathered, free draining gravel soils over clay subsoils and decomposed granite are not too rich in organic matter, providing the necessary stress that grape vines … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

Showcasing the Margaret River in Sydney

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Neal Martin, eRobertParker.com wine critic, recently said, “Margaret River has already achieved great things, but not as great as what will follow.” (Final Thoughts on Margaret River, June 2010).

In less than 45 years the Margaret River, one of the most geographically isolated wine making regions in the world, has garnered an extraordinary level of recognition both in Australia and overseas.

And as a recent showcase of 25 labels from the region at the MCA in Sydney last week attests, the Margaret River is still an extremely dynamic and emerging wine region. In addition to the icon wineries, which include Vasse Felix, Moss Wood, Leeuwin Estate and Cullen,  a growing number of small, family-run wineries are making wines of distinction, and many new and long-established wineries are successfully experimenting with a range of different varieties and blends.

Margaret River has long been synonymous with Bordeaux style cabernet sauvignon and cabernet blends. Indeed, at the Showcase I overheard a number of guests say that they were restricting their tastings just to the reds. But Margaret River also makes outstanding chardonnay (Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay and Pierro Chardonnay are rated ‘Exceptional’ and ‘Outstanding’ respectively in Langton’s 2010 Classification of Australian Wine), and many of the wineries make excellent sauvignon blanc/semillon and semillon/sauvignon blanc blends.

For such a young wine region Margaret River has an enviable number of celebrated wineries.  Xanadu, Woodlands, Voyager Estate, Fraser Gallop Estate, Lenton Brae, Wise Wine, Cape Mentelle, Brookland Valley, Celestial Bay, Fermoy Estate, Flametree Wines, Juniper Estate were some of the stand-outs from a long list of acclaimed wineries which were represented at the showcase. Yalumba, the famous brand more commonly associated with the Barossa and Coonawarra, showcased its … Read the rest