Getting to Know Margaret River through Vasse Felix #WorldWineTravel

Australia wine map courtesy of

World Wine Travel Writers Dream of Australia and New Zealand for 2022
It’s 2022, and our World Wine Travel group is off to a new geography for the year: Australia and New Zealand. We’ll be spending the next 12 months studying the wines of these two countries from afar. Along the way, we hope to learn a bit and hopefully share a bit of that knowledge with our readers. First up is Western Australia. Take a look further down in this post for links to fellow World Wine Travel writers’ posts on this remote region.

Western Australia wine regions courtesy of

Western Australia and Margaret River
Located in the far southwest corner of Australia, the wine regions are a full 5 hour flight from Syndey and up to a 3 hour drive from Perth! Margaret River is the best known of the designated regions in Western Australia. Initially planted in 1967 (around the same time as Oregon’s wine pioneers started planting there), the region quickly established itself as an excellent place for growing grapes. Margaret River is often compared to Bordeaux due to its proximity to the ocean and gravel soils. However, it’s at a much lower latitude and it has a Mediterranean climate with maritime influence, meaning it enjoys dry summers. Bordeaux gets rain all through the growing season.

In 1967, Vasse Felix was one of the original wineries established in Margaret River

Vasse Felix
Vasse Felix was founded by a Western Australia cardiologist, Dr. Tom Cullity. Dr. Cullity loved the classic wines of Europe and wondered if Australia could produce wines of that class. He set about exploring the region, settling on a plot of land in Margaret River in 1967. Over the next several years he established the home vineyard and built the first winery. Today at Vasse Felix, they farm using traditional and organic practices, and use minimal intervention practices including native yeast fermentations in the winery.

Vasse Felix Margaret River “Filius” Chardonnay 2020 ($25 locally at France 44) 13.0% abv
The Filius wines are Vasse Felix’s second wines, more affordable and immediately enjoyable versions of their flagship wines. They are still estate grown, vinified and bottled, with minimum intervention. The Chardonnay spends 8 months aging in oak, 13% new with the remainder in 1 to 5 years prior use.
Eye: Pale gold
Nose: Medium plus intensity aromas of flint, wet stones, fresh lemon pith, lemon curd, green apple, underripe pear, hints of fresh thyme, vanilla and smoke.
Mouth: Dry, high acid, medium minus body with a spare lean texture, medium alcohol, medium plus flavor intensity, medium plus finish. On the palate, the citrus and herbs are more prominent.
Observations: A lean, refreshing, elegant Chardonnay. Very enjoyable and excellent value in this price range.

Vasse Felix Margaret River “Filius” Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($26 locally at France 44) 14.5% abv
86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot. The Cabernet Sauvignon is estate grown, vinified and bottled, with minimum intervention. It is aged in oak for 11 months with 7% new barrels and the remainder 1-5 years prior use.
Eye: Deep ruby
Nose: Medium plus intensity aromas of violets, fresh just-ripe blueberries, black plums, blackberries, rosemary, green pepper, sawn wood, light vanilla, leather. Alcohol is a bit noticeable.
Mouth: Dry, medium plus acidity, medium plus fine grained tannins, medium plus body but not plush, high alcohol, medium plus flavor intensity, medium plus finish. The dark fruit and herbs are most noticeable on the palate.
Observations: Excellent fruit intensity with a light hand on the oak. The just ripe fruit and fairly lean texture suggest this wine comes from a cooler climate.

Vasse Felix Wines paired with New York Steak and Chimichurri Sauce
Tonight’s dinner provided a bit of a wine pairing surprise. Starting with a nice Cabernet Sauvignon meant that grilled steak should be on the menu. We love the chimichurri sauce recipe from our friends Mary and Sean at Vindulge for all its’ bright green herbal flavors with a strong garlic kick. Perfect for a cold, snowy night in Minnesota. The surprise came in trying both wines with dinner. All that bright herbal flavor of the sauce made the whole meal sing with the Chardonnay. Not that the Cabernet Sauvignon was bad, but the lean, bright Chardonnay was just so natural with the sauce.

World Wine Travel Writers Explore Western Australia
Take a look at our posts below, then join our chat on Twitter at #worldwinetravel! We chat on Saturday January 22 from 10-11am CST. We hope to see you there!

Australian Wine Resources

15 Responses to “Getting to Know Margaret River through Vasse Felix #WorldWineTravel”
  1. robincgc says:

    I love that the Chardonnay went best due to the sauce. It’s a reminder that you are not just pairing with your protein.
    Thank you for the information on Vasse Felix! I had read just a bit about them being founding members of the region. I did also appreciate you pointing out that they were planting at the same time as original plantings were happening in the Willamette Valley. That is a great bit of perspective!

  2. terristeffes says:

    This whole pairing fascinates me and my husband. We are eager to give it a go. I love your detailed Australian wine map, too.

  3. Sounds like my kind of Chardonnay – lean, citrusy and with just a hint of oak. Definitely need to try that chimichurri sauce recipe!

  4. wendyklik says:

    I, too, opened a bottle of the Vasse Felix red and loved it. Now I need to try the Chard. Thanks.

  5. Beautiful photographs and great information! I’m a fan of these wines and their sustainable practices as well.

  6. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    This steak and chimichurri dinner is calling to me right now – YUM! Thanks for the background on Vasse Felix.

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