Tom Cullity 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon - The man behind this wine

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This wine is perhaps the best Cabernet to have ever come out of Australia and the pinnacle of Vasse's Cabernet Sauvignons, taken off the vines originally planted 51 years ago by Dr Tom Culity.

Heralded as 'A Cab Sauv vintage for the ages' by Ray Jordan, Vasse's Tom Cullity 2014 was made in honour of the great man who started the whole thing down in Margaret River by planting the first vines in the region. This year sadly marks the tenth anniversary of his passing away following on from Margaret River's and Vasse's 50th anniversary last year. 

But who was Tom Cullity?

Thomas Brendan Cullity was born in Adelaide and attended school here in Perth where he was the Dux of Aquinas College and enjoyed typical past times of footy and cricket. He went on to study medicine, graduating Adelaide University in 1947 and eventually becoming a practicing doctor in Perth.

 Tom Cullity, 1969. Image courtesy:  Holiday Margaret River

Tom Cullity, 1969. Image courtesy: Holiday Margaret River

By 1967, Cullity was already referring to himself as an 'embryo wine maker' and was making moves to purchase his first eight acres near Cowaramup in the newly established Margaret River farming area. It turns out that not all the locals were too excited about this city slicker coming down and buying up the land. According to Cullity, the area was poor back then. 

 
 Old photos of the main street in Margaret River.  Image courtesy:  Margaret River Mail

Old photos of the main street in Margaret River.  Image courtesy: Margaret River Mail

 

"There was hardly anybody there. It was a closed community." 
Rumours in this closed community quickly circulated about this rich fancy doctor. Cullity used to recall them saying behind his back that he must've been setting up a nudist colony or some sort of wife-swapping cult. All he really wanted to do however was grow some good wine.

He named the property Vasse Felix planting Riesling, Shiraz, Cabernet and Malbec vines and cementing himself as Margaret River's wine pioneer. By 1972, Cullity won a gold medal at the Perth Royal show for small wine makers in WA and a silver nationally - some of the winery's first of many accolades to come.

 The original Vasse Felix sign post in the 60's.

The original Vasse Felix sign post in the 60's.

Vasse Felix was the first wine growing estate in the entire area and is still in operation today as a industry and regional leader. Over the last 50 years, Margaret River has gone onto intentional notoriety and a surge in the economic prosperity of the area through its winemaking and tourism opportunities. All the wineries you pass on your drive down Caves Road all owe it all to Dr Cullity and Vasse the real Margaret River Wine OGs.

 
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The Tom Cullity 2014 descends from these original vines and represents the pinnacle of Vasse Felix. The inaugural release will be in May 2017, coinciding with Vasse Felix's 50th Anniversary.

Today, this special block, Margaret River's original vines, remains at the heart of the Vasse Felix estate. Their highly guarded and most valuable living treasure.

Despite Vasse Felix progressing considerably since 1967, the winery has always remaining true to Dr Cullity's simple founding aim, 'to make the best possible wine.' Not such a useless bastard after all...

 
 
 Image courtesy:  Erin Larkin

Image courtesy: Erin Larkin

 

This wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Malbec and 4% Petit Verdot. 

“The red fruits shine here. This is incredible. Raspberry, pomegranate, red apple skins, pink peppercorns, hints of strawberry, blackcurrant, mulberry, seaweed/nori (an injection of iodine, beetroot). The tannins are polished, like whipped egg white: chewy and sumptuous. The flavours extend through the palate and into the length. Very very long. I can write long after it is gone. Alive. Energy. Doesn’t want to finish, it doesn’t want to let go. It lingers. Great depth of flavour. Effortlessly long. In fact… it needs the extra linger time just to make sure its covered all of its flavours and textures. Super fine, powerful, long, structured and delicate. Perfect. If this represents where Margaret River has come to, then we are indeed in a magnificent place,” - Erin Larkin, local West Australian Wine Blogger