Shiraz was never really meant to grow in Margaret River, but Vasse Felix has been growing it there for a very long time. Shiraz typically wants to cover itself with foliage in this, WA’s signature wine region, so unless it is nurtured and drilled like a Sergeant-Major dealing with a company of young child cadets, it will surely disappoint. Disappointment can indeed occur in many different ways, but when it comes to ordinary Margaret River shiraz, look out for these indicators: green bell pepper, tomato stalk, menthol, mint, tomato stalk and even more tomato stalk.
So, if you’re starting to think that there might indeed be a shortfall in the discipline department when it comes to the majority of shiraz vineyards in Margaret River, you’d be right. Not to mention that in day’s cold, hard light, many would have indeed been better planted to something else. Tomatoes, perhaps, which their wines so often resemble.
Therefore, when I find a truly joyful, ripe and thoroughly drinkable, shiraz-like shiraz from Margaret River, you can now perhaps excuse my excitement. This weeks’ Wine of the Week is one of those – and it’s perhaps the finest ever from Vasse Felix, which as mentioned earlier, has been working on its shiraz for quite some time.
Laced with pepper, black fruits, dark cherries and blueberries, it’s long, shapely and earthy, with a wonderful length of fruit knit with assertive chocolatey, cedary oak and underpinned by the kind of gravelly backbone that I’m always pleased by. Medium to fullish in weight, it finishes with a juicy core of fruit, a fine slatey note and the sort of balance that suggests you can keep it for ages.
It’s made by Virginia Willcock, so I should hardly be surprised. Virginia is one of the region’s elite winemakers and under her guidance, Vasse Felix has more than maintained its position as one of Margaret River’s benchmarks.