The Vasse Felix flagship chardonnay is made from the most striking parcels available each vintage. It is a Margaret River chardonnay icon. Selected batches are kept separate through the winemaking and maturation process, which involves natural fermentation with solids inclusion. These yeast lees are stirred regularly during the nine months the wine spends in French oak, about 50:50 new and second or third use. Importantly, with bright, natural acidity a priority, the wine is not put through malolactic fermentation. As James Halliday said (2009): ‘The mouthfeel and balance are flawless, supple yet focused, all the ingredients – fruit, oak, acidity – in perfect harmony and balance’.
Located three hours south of Perth, Margaret River is Western Australia’s most prestigious wine-growing region. Serious vineyard development began only in the late 1960’s following the publication of a report by John Gladstones in 1965 stating that the area had a similar climate to Pomerol or St Emilion, with low frost risk, plenty of sunshine and equable temperatures within the growing season promoting even ripening. Margaret River’s climate is warm and maritime, with some cooling influence provided by southeast trade winds. The soils derive from granitic and a gneissic rock over which laterite has formed. The region can be divided in three sub-regions: the cooler south between Yallingup and Karridale with predominantly lateritic gravelly loamy sands and sandy loams; the warm and sunnier Willyabrup in the centre with predominantly gravelly loams, but some gritty sandy loams and granitic gravels; and Margaret River in the north with similar soils, but slightly cooler temperatures. This is entirely consistent with style; the wines from Willyabrup being more generous than the highly structured wines of the north and the elegant styles of the south. Margaret River is best known for high quality Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blends and top notch Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends. Over the years, the region has established an astonishing reputation illustrating a consistency in quality and a strongly focused winemaking culture.