Unearthing A New Chapter
A serendipitous discovery in Margaret River’s south unearths champagne clones of Chardonnay and a new chapter begins.
Vasse Felix has made méthode traditionelle wine since 1985. It was an obsession that began with David Gregg and sat quietly behind the scenes. That was until a serendipitous discovery at our Karridale Vineyard, an established property acquired by Vasse Felix in late 2010.
Within it was a block of vines expected to be suitable for still wine. They were discovered to be anything but. ‘D Block’ fruit retained the natural acidity and lean character of a champagne base, rather than the desired elegance and power of a Margaret River Chardonnay. It was a strange, but exciting surprise. What was going on at this site in Margaret River’s south?
In 2012, a Blanc de Blanc was made. It was an experiment, of sorts, that proved the start of something very special.
D Block appears to be planted to a mix of Champagne clones that we later added to other blocks on the property. These clones grow well in the south due to the soil and unique climate, which differs from other Vasse Felix vineyards.
For a start, biting cold wind influence is predominantly, south-easterly, coming off the Southern Ocean, rather than the Indian Ocean. At a low altitude (25-40m) the vineyard is tucked behind the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge for protection from the westerly, while persistent cloud cover is also a feature of the south. Cape Leeuwin averages around 17.1 cloudy days per month, compared to 10.3 days at Busselton in the north.
The site’s soils differ too – substantial calcareous deposits lend themselves to the leaner, racier style of Chardonnay, as compared to the gravel loams over clay of the Ridge.
With all this promise and the continually improving quality of Vasse Felix Blanc de Blancs, it became impossible to ignore the untapped potential to pursue a new kind of Chardonnay from Margaret River south. Could this unique terroir become a new world Blanc de Blanc hero? An obsession became a vision, and Idée Fixe – an exciting new venture – was bore. We invite you to join the journey…