Andrew Caillard MW discovers our ‘Perfect Fixation’
We were delighted with the recent words and reviews from Andrew Caillard MW in The Vintage Journal following a recent visit to the Idée Fixe winery, where Chief Winemaker Mick Langridge delved into the precision and intricacies of our Blanc de Blanc obsession. Read on to discover more.
Paul Holmes à Court has big ideas for Margaret River. Since taking over the helm at Vasse Felix he has progressed plans at a cracking pace. Enlightened and ambitious, he belongs to an army of visionaries who have taken the wine region from sleepy dairying country to one of Australia’s premier wine regions in just 60 years. Although Vasse Felix has been making sparkling wine since the mid-1980s, a new project has recently emerged which promises to become a significant destination for wine lovers. The Idée Fixe winery, located just to the South of the Margaret River township, sits adjacent to the main road down to Albany. The perfectly manicured vineyards sprawl into the distance and last week the golden autumn colours and blotted blue skies evoked the kind of dreamy longing of advertising shoots. The winery, previously known as Watershed, is undergoing significant reconstruction into a ultra-premium Sparkling Wine House, cellar door and restaurant. But the source of fruit for the venture comes from further afield.
Margaret River is best known for its wonderful Gin Gin clone. Most people would agree that the region makes some of Australia’s finest chardonnays, but when it comes to sparkling wine the needs are very different as grapes are generally picked earlier to preserve natural acidities. Significant phenolics, a feature of the Gin Gin clone, are also not so welcome. By chance, Vasse Felix was sold a vineyard in Karridale at the southern end of Margaret River in 2012. The plantings were advertised by the agent as being all Gin Gin clone Chardonnay; ideal for the growing demand of Vasse Felix Chardonnay. But after the dust had settled, it was discovered that the vineyard’s Block D was planted with Champagne clones. This began the journey of starting a bespoke sparkling wine project based on Chardonnay. These types of sparkling wines are called “Blanc de Blancs” and are a favourite among wine drinkers who like refinement, flavour complexity and precision. Very recent soil mapping, completed only last week, has revealed the site has a high level of shattered quartz which is unusual in Margaret River and from this tasting appears to be well suited to the production of high quality sparkling wines.
The humid conditions, very low elevations, regular cloud cover and sea breezes make it hard going to grow grapes for table wine, but the conditions are ideal for making Sparkling wines in the traditional method. Recently I tasted a whole lot of bottlings earmarked for release with the venture’s chief winemaker Mick Langridge and marketing manager Emily Sharland. I was extremely impressed by the quality and fidelity of Idée Fixe’s current offerings. Possessing freshness and complexity, they reflect a magnificent obsession and promise a flourishing future.
Pale colour. Fresh nougat, yeasty, hint marmite, sourdough, grapefruit, waxy aromas. Lovely creamy textured wine with grapefruit, lemon curd, yeasty, sourdough, nougat flavours, fine bittersweet textures, lovely mid-palate volume and fresh long persistent fine bubbles. Lovely freshness, superb tension, texture and energy. (Disgorgement batch Feb 2022).
Pale onion skin colour. Intense grapefruit, marzipan, yeasty, grilled nut aromas. Generous grapefruit, tonic water, nougat, sourdough, grilled nut, yeasty complexity, superb lemon glacé, hint red cherry notes and fine chalky textures. Lovely pure indelible acidity and long fresh persistent fine bead. Beautiful. (Disgorgement batch Dec 2021).