A night on the river with Vasse Felix

Last Wednesday I attended a night with Vasse Felix  – the wines and the winemaker, Mick Langridge. It was held at Mosmans in Peppermint Grove. Such a wonderful setting but pity the sun didn’t set a bit later so we could admire the view a bit more as we wined and dined. I’ll need to go back for an earlier meal!

I always enjoy attending wine tastings where the winemaker is present. He or she can tell us so much more about the vintage, the work that carried on after picking and their descriptive words of the wine, well, are so precise – of course they would be!

We started the night with a Vasse Felix Blanc de Blancs 2013 and a brief history of Margaret River and Vasse Felix. The sparkling was wonderfully light and crisp yet with a lovely depth to it with notes of citrus peel and a hint of brioche. I felt it danced on my palate and I happily said ‘yes’ to a second glass when the waitress came round again.

Mick told us the heroes of Margaret River are Cabernets and Chardonnays so it was great to taste two of their Chardonnays and Cabernets tonight along with such tantalizing food.

The Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2014 was served to match the twice baked mushroom soufflé, mixed citrus salad. As Mick explained, they want the fruit to speak for itself and there is minimal intervention. So only natural yeasts are used, those that are on the vine. The Chardonnay was fruit driven yet with a touch of toast leaving a clean long finish.

With the second course, the apple smoked salmon, white peach waldorf we had the Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2013. This was a step up and delivered at every level. Such finesse to this wine, I could have finished off the bottle. So much character and so much going on in this wine.

Then we had the coffee and sweet onion short rib with beetroot alongside the Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. As Mick explained the variety works well with protein rich food and so the pairing really was spot on. The wine spent 18 months in oak from which I found there were notes of spice and toast that intermingled well with the fruit. The first Cabernet vintage was 1972 and Mick talked about the gravel loam soils in Wilyabrup with the sea breeze taking the heat out of the vineyard in the hot summer days of January to March. It can get rather hot down south! In this wine there is also 13% Malbec. As Mick explained, it is this that gives the fleshy fruit and that background spice. At $45 RRP ($36 on the night), wonderful

Then there was the seared lamb fillet, cauliflower, raspberry balsamic, shortcrust crumbs with Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. The food was so beautifully presented, it was a shame to eat it! The lamb melted in your mouth coupled with the Heytesbury. The grapes for this wine come from the best parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot (15%) and Malbec (12%). Usually available for $90 RRP, it was $72 on the night.

To end the evening was a citrus tart, double cream, meringue with Vasse Felix Cane Cut Semillon 2013. As Mick described, the canes on which the vines were growing are cut so the grapes then stay on the cut cane and dry for 6- 8 weeks. This leads the resulting wine to not only be high in acidity but with a lot of concentration due to dehydration (and sugar in the wine). Then followed fermentation and ageing in oak barrels.

It really was a wonderful evening but I would have preferred if the winemaker had come round to see us all at the table so we could have asked him questions. The layout of the restaurant with the separating walls and doors didn’t help create an inclusive environment. I’ll know for next time that if I want to ask the winemaker questions and learn more about the vintage and wines as well as ask loads of geeky questions, a smaller venue with less people would be more suitable. Realistically being able to answer all of our questions at the restaurant probably would require a five hour dinner….. there’s an idea!

Still the discount of about 20% on the wines was very attractive. And there was the chance to win a magnum of the 2012 Heytesbury Magnum with a RRP of $190. We all put our business cards in the bowl and my friend’s was picked out. I was very excited for her as she never wins prizes. Plus she has a wine fridge that could do with a magnum!