Cullen Wines

Vasse Felix Celebrates 50 Years in Margaret River: A Colossal Celebration

Tasting in full swing at Vasse on Friday 5th May

Tasting in full swing at Vasse on Friday 5th May

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2017 marks 50 years since the first of the modern-era vineyards was planted in Margaret River, on the Vasse Felix property, by Dr Tom Cullity.  There is no doubt that there were vineyards planted in and around Margaret River prior to 1967 (as early as the 1830's), however none survived to be included in what we now class as the Margaret River wine industry.

To celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the region, Vasse Felix hosted a party on the lawn by the original vines.  Each person who attended (thought to be around 350) brought a bottle of wine that was produced in Margaret River in the past 50 years.    

The view from here... straight down the line - this is what 350 wines from Margaret River's last 50 years looks like.

The view from here... straight down the line - this is what 350 wines from Margaret River's last 50 years looks like.

What is good for Vasse Felix, is good for Margaret River. And what is good for Margaret River is good for Vasse Felix
— Paul Holmes a Court, Owner

This attitude of team work, and unification of the region was a strong theme running through the panel discussion on the day.  Paul Holmes A Court addressed the crowd by saying, "Friends, family and neighbours - welcome". 

Wine celebrities on the panel were: Denis Horgan (owner/founder Leeuwin Estate); Nic Peterkin (owner/winemaker L.A.S. Vino, and son of Dr Mike Peterkin - Pierro); Robert Hill-Smith (owner Yalumba Wine Company and Samuel Smith & Sons - distribution partner Vasse Felix); Virginia Willcock (winemaker Vasse Felix) and Andrew Caillard MW (winemaker Caillard Wine, Langtons, filmmaker, MW).

Two of the many premium wines on offer on Friday.  It is perhaps unnecessary to note that both of these wines were in superb form, and illustrated with grace what aged Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon can offer.  Note the interesting watermark running vertically down the bottle on the right - this was the first time Margaret River had been displayed on the label of a Vasse Felix wine.

Two of the many premium wines on offer on Friday.  It is perhaps unnecessary to note that both of these wines were in superb form, and illustrated with grace what aged Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon can offer.  Note the interesting watermark running vertically down the bottle on the right - this was the first time Margaret River had been displayed on the label of a Vasse Felix wine.

Poured here: The 1982 Vasse Felix Hermitage, the tasting table in the background.

Poured here: The 1982 Vasse Felix Hermitage, the tasting table in the background.

SEEN: Veronica Cullity and Dr Mike Peterkin (Pierro); Dan Wegener (Somm, owner of Il Lido Italian Canteen, Cottesloe); Will Berliner (owner Cloudburst wines), Glenn Goodall and Brendan Carr (winemakers at Xanadu); Julian Langworthy (winemaker Deep Woods and current Jimmy Watson trophy holder); Luke Jolieff (winemaker Stella Bella & Len Evans scholar); Ian Parmenter (former writer for Wine Selector magazine; Peter Forrestal (wine writer); fine wine retailers John Jens (Lamonts),  Moreno Berti (RE Store) and Mike Tambouri (La Vigne); Tricia Horgan, Shelley Cullen, Janet and Zara Holmes A Court, Danielle and Jeremy Gordon (owners and winemaker Amelia Park) and many many more... 

Cullen Chardonnay Tasting

This weekend marked my first attendance at the annual Cullen Chardonnay Tasting.

The tasting originated with founder Kevin Cullen and his desire to benchmark his own chardonnays with other chardonnays from around Australia and the world. The tasting is conducted totally masked, meaning that the assessment is absolutely unbiased, and helps to put the current status of the wine into an international and national context.

These days, the tasting consists of 21 wines from 21 different wineries from around the world. In 2016 we looked through New Zealand, Australia, France and America. 90 people attended the tasting held at Cullen’s Winery in Margaret River on Saturday the 15th of October, which was held in the barrel hall.

Vanya Cullen led the mixed group of retailers, winemakers and wine lovers through the formal tasting, and at the end of each bracket a commentator took the group through the wines and their thoughts on them. It wasn’t until the very end of the tasting that the identities of the wines were revealed.

My top pointed wines in the tasting were all Australian, 4 out of 5 of which were from WA. My top five (ok six – I had an equal top):

  • the Penfolds Yattarna (19.5/20 $150 RRP) and the Vasse Felix Heytesbury (19.5/20, $75 RRP).
  • In second place the inimitable Leeuwin Estate Art Series (19/20, $95 RRP),
  • the Xanadu Reserve (18.7/20, $85 RRP) in third,
  • in fourth was the Voyager Project 95 (18.6/20, $55 RRP) and
  • fifth place was the extraordinarily well priced Fraser Gallop Parterre (18.5/20, $39 RRP).

An astounding snapshot of 2012 chardonnay, and followed up by a long lunch at the Cullen restaurant with matched Cullen wines with each course. Guests were lucky enough to be poured the 2010 Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot from magnum – a wonderful way to sit through a rainy weekend. Tickets to the 2017 Chardonnay tasting can be purchased by joining the Cullen mailing list online.