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2007 Vasse Felix Shiraz
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- Cellar 4 - 5 years (2014-2015)
- ABV 14.5%
- Closure: Screw Cap
When you start to feel lost in a world of designer wine brands with no real core values, no bricks and mortar, no faces and places behind them, no regional expressions or romance, try to remember Tom Cullity. Here is a man with no practical bent, who has never changed a car tyre and who knows nothing about vines or wine-making except for what he's read in text books. At 3 am on a Saturday morning he's leaving Perth, driving down dirt roads in a Peugeot 403 to his little vineyard. From 8am he'll work all weekend, sleeping in a galvanised shed, returning home by midnight on Sunday, ready for another week in his day job as a cardiologist. Over the next few years, Cullity averages this 600 kilometre return journey more than once a fortnight. He even holidays at the vineyard (usually alone) wandering the landscape boring holes with an auger, looking for red gravel in redgum country; looking for the perfect vineyard site. The local farmers think he's a bit of a joke. It's the late 1960's, and Cullity doesn't yet realise it, but he's one of the pioneers of a new Australian wine region - 'Margaret River.'
It was the Cullen's (also medicos, but not then into wine), who led Cullity to his first eight acres which he named 'Vasse Felix' ("Happy Vasse") though there were times when he was far from joyful about its prospects. The first vintage in 1971 was a disaster. Grape bunches that didn't rot were damaged by the beaks of silvereyes. (In fact, the falcon on the Vasse Felix label represents one of Cullity's inspirations to deter these grape thieving birds. Immediately after it was released, the falcon disappeared from sight, flying in the direction of the neighbour's chook shed never to be seen again.) Cullity's situation was compounded by isolation and a lack of infrastructure. Supply problems were endemic. On more than one occasion, he would adapt medical technology to winemaking devices. An entire vintage of Cabernet was fermented in a beer keg to which he'd attached an airlock fashioned from an intravenous drip. When it blocked, pressure from fermentation gases grew to astronomic levels and when the cap of the keg was removed, the entire contents sprayed onto a galvanised iron wall.
Despite the early tribulations, Margaret River's wines were rapidly recognised as something different and special. Here were wines not only with strong varietal character, but with a length and palate structure that was more European rather than typically South-East- Australian. Since then, Australian's have realised the potential of other cool climate regions. Cullity emerged triumphant, though it's hard now to fully appreciate the starkness of the situation during the early 1970's. Looking back affords reflections apropros to many of today's vignerons and marketing departments. Cullity attributes much of his success to his attention to detail, "The best manure is the owner's foot-print" and has always believed that "...blatant publicity is to be avoided. Premium wines create their own aura if they deserve it". Vasse Felix has certainly proven his point. If you’ve sworn off South Australian Shiraz due to their overpowering richness, this may well be the wine to rekindle your enjoyment of the variety.
While we're generally hesitant when it comes to definitive proclamations regarding a vintage before extensive tastings, this wine settles any doubts we might have had - 2007 is a new Margaret River benchmark, with Vasse Felix now leading the value stakes. Any cellar aimed at securing a comprehensive picture of the decade in Australian wine needs a selection of red varietals from this vintage. Vasse Felix will be one of the most astute purchases you will make.
This Shiraz contains an 11.5% Malbec component and was matured for 18 months in a combination of new American, French and Hungarian oak barriques. Opaque saturated black dark red colour with very deep dark red black hue – outstanding colour. The nose leaps out of the glass delivering a powerful aromatic profile of blackberry, dark plum, confectionary, blackpepper and spice. The palate is equally impressive displaying a rich and generous flavour profile but at the same time possesses a degree of refinement that’s rarely present in many South East Australian counterparts. Flavours of ripe blackberry, plum and liquorice are all seamlessly integrated and are followed by some blackpepper and spicy cedar characteristics on the back palate. Super fine tannin structure with very long (bordering on exceptional) aftertaste of liquorice, blackberry, blackpepper and spice.
Cellar 4-5 years (2014-2015)