Know what the only problem with the revised Vasse Felix Cabernet range? I can’t keep up with the repositioning and relabelling. Heytesbury, from what I can gather, is now just released as a Chardonnay, leaving the new Tom Cullity Cabernet Malbec as the top of the tree. The Estate Cabernet sits above the Filius, leaving the Classic Dry Red at the entry level. Where is the Cabernet Merlot? Apparently the ’15 Filius will be a Cab Merlot again, so it’s likely just labelling.
What’s not confusing, thankfully, is the quality. These are fine Margaret River wines with style and detail. I’m a fan.
This lot were opened for a trade tasting and I scored the dregs. More please.
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Blend 1996
Cork sealed. Interestingly, this apparently includes some Great Southern fruit in the mix. Terracotta creeping in at the edges. The nose is faintly baked but retains its leaf litter and whiff of herbs. Roast beef, blood and bone. It’s evolved, but still retains freshness. Lovely palate richness – a real dense palate that is still packing faintly chocolatey oak edges, the palate full of ripe, bolognese flavours, the finish very long and now heading towards silk. It’s slightly warm to finish, but great length. Arguably not getting any better, but a lovely rich style with fine tannins. Best drinking: 2017-2025. 14.2%. 18/20, 93/100. Would I buy it? I’d drink some.
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Blend 2008
Screw cap. Still full red. Really quite closed and reductive. A jangle of sweet and sour fruit on the palate, tannins trying to force their way onto the palate. Such odd jumble of flavours, the glory hinted at underneath but struggling on the balance. A bad bottle? Would be good to look at to see if it changes. Best drinking: 2020+? 14.5%. 16.5/20, 88/100. Would I buy it? I’d go the vintages either side personally.
Vasse Felix Filius Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
85% Cabernet, 13% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot. Very dark red with plenty of mulberry purple on the edges. Very full blackberry fruit on the luscious nose, sleek and fine flavours on the palate, they’re all juicy and plump. Still more like a barrel sample than a complete wine. Sleek and polished, if not quite the tannins of the other releases. Perhaps lacking a little varietal definition, the ripeness slightly rubbing out some of the finer edges. Nice wine though, if barrel sample-esque and overshadowed here. Best drinking: 2019-2028. 14%, $28. 17.7/20, 92/100+. Would I buy it? I’d go for the older brother for sure.
Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Merlot. More of a varietal signature here – Cassis and pencil shavings. Drying, finely shaped tannins look initially look just a little raw but then start humming along, the finish long and with plenty of juiciness. Pangs of the ’96 here in that red berry richness, and the long finish suggests a fine future. It’s an even less approachable as the Cabernet, but it also feels rather more defined too. Classy wine for the future. Best drinking: 2020-2033. 14.5%, $45. 18/20, 93/100+. Would I buy it? Would be tempted by a bottle.
Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2013
76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec and 4% Petit Verdot. More verbose wine on the nose here (more new oak?) and a little mint. A different beast on the palate – closed, compact and dense. Mouth shutting tannins too. It’s a bruiser of a wine, hulking power beneath the surface, hints of red and black fruits pushing in through the oak. Such power! It’s just a little raw on the finish still, and you do notice the alcohol a little – though not enough to ruin things. Lovely long wine though, even if it is still a bunch of paint trying to be a painting. Best drinking: 2021-2035+. 14.5%, $160. 18.5+, 94/100. Would I buy it? I’d like to have some in the cellar, but not quite sure I can justify the price.