Margaret River Winery Vasse Felix has released the highly anticipated 2018 Tom Cullity Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec. The wine has achieved iconic status and is only in its sixth release.
Erin Larkin, a member of the tasting team, gave the new version 99 points. She describes it as the reference wine of the inspiring 2018 vintage in Margaret River. Its predecessor, the 2017 Tom Cullity, had Erin score 97 points last year.
Vasse Felix was the founding winery of Margaret River, established by Dr Thomas Brendan Cullity in 1967. Western Australian cardiologist Tom Cullity fell in love with wine in the 1950s while working in Europe. When he returned home to WA, he made it his mission to make great wine out west. After finding the perfect eight acres at Cowaramup, he launched the first commercial Margaret River wines.
Some of the first plantings were Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Tom Cullity wine is a celebration of these vines and the pioneer who planted them. It is an expression of place and history, and it is the pinnacle of Vasse Felix wine.
Margaret River’s 2018 vintage will go down in history as one of the greatest. We spoke to head winemaker Virginia Willcock about the “holy grail of Margaret River Cabernet ‘even years'” and, of course, Tom Cullity.
The Vasse Felix vineyard.
H What do you think makes Tom Cullity Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec a truly iconic wine?
V The most important attributes of this wine – in our eyes – are its intellectual beauty, its provenance and its rarity.
H How does the 2018 differ from previous vintages?
V 2018 is an exceptional Margaret River vintage, and our approach to winemaking allows the wine to tell the story of how the original Margaret River vines felt during the season.
The 2018 vintage really clarifies what a superb growing season means in our region. Heavy winter rains have recharged soil moisture levels which is ideal for our dry grown vines and a modest spring allowed for moderate harvest levels. Harvest timing was average with minor rainfall refreshing the Cabernet vines ahead of a long, dry and hot Indian summer. Followed by no peak heat events, perfect for extended ripening of grapes and preservation of darker berry characters.
H What do you like about Tom Cullity?
V Its elegance, its finesse, its transparency and its power of levitation.
H How has the winemaking process evolved over the six vintages?
V Over the years of working so intrinsically with Tom’s blocks – from vine to wine – we have come to understand the fruit better and better. We also realized how little we have to do for these blocks to express themselves in their truest and most miraculous form as wine.
H Are there any particular techniques or winemaking processes that help make this wine so special?
V Wine is a transparent expression of place. Organically grown, it is hand-harvested in small batches, fermented from whole berries with only wild yeasts, basket pressed, straight to barrel and unsupported and back to compilation for bottling.
H How does the Tom Cullity honor Dr. Thomas Brendan Cullity?
V The wine comes from Tom’s original plantations of Cabernet and Malbec which were the beginnings of the Margaret River wine region. Tom was a brave visionary and planted them in an extremely remote area with limited access to resources. His hard work, determination and pioneering spirit are celebrated and live on every year in this wine.
2018 Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec
This wine is the benchmark for the latent power, grace and inherent balance of the 2018 vintage at Margaret River. Similar in texture to the classically sophisticated 2014 vintage, but with much greater density and weight. Here, the savory tannins are already embedded in the fruit: shapely, firm, chewy, malleable – everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Waves of blood plum, cassis, blackberry, pomegranate, juniper, raspberry, salt shaker, bay leaf and salty red licorice crash against the rocks, while kelp, nori, iodine, red gravel and brine overlap the smaller sets at the back. Sensational. Amazing. A wine for the ages. Halliday Wine Companion, Erin Larkin, 99 points.
MSRP $190 | Drink until 2052 | Learn more
For more information, visit vassefelix.com.au.