Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2012

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2012

Sale price$155.00
Multi Sub Regions, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia

Style: White Wine

Variety: Chardonnay

Closure: Screwcap

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Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2012

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Burke Road
Camberwell VIC 3124

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Producer: Vasse Felix

Country: Australia

Region: Margaret River

Vintage: 2012

Critic Score: 97

Alcohol: 13.0%

Size: 750 ml

Drink by: 2025

To say I am impressed, overwhelmed and ecstatic is an understatement - Tony Keys

The Sydney Morning Herald Top 20 Wines of 2014
James Halliday Top 100 Wines of 2013
Matthew Jukes Top 100 Wines of 2013

Vasse Felix, Margaret River’s founding wine estate, is one of the heavyweights of Australian wine. The first Chardonnay under the flagship Heytesbury label was made in 1996, but it was the arrival of Virginia Willcock as Chief Winemaker in 2006 that helped it become a benchmark Australian Chardonnay. The wine quickly became a sensation on the wine show circuit; the 2009 vintage was a triple trophy winner at the 2010 Australian National Wine Show, followed by the 2010 which won 11 trophies in total, to become one of the most awarded Chardonnays in Australian history. 

"Breathtaking focus and purity, capturing exquisite fruit and presenting it unashamedly with all the complexity of skillful craftsmanship. Delightful refinement and grace, yet still inimitably concentrated Margaret River Chardonnay."  Wine Business Monthly (WBM)

"Light golden straw. Displays a typically powerful and engaging Heytesbury perfume. Infused with fresh lemon, white peach, river stone and bees wax at the top end of the spectrum, while wild ferment derived lamb fat and smokey struck match notes permeate up from the depths. A juicy acid line combined with a fine, powdery texture sets a taut canvas for complex, elevated peach, lemon, lime and baby pineapple flavours that build and hit their stride in the long finish. Vibrant and inviting in its youth, this wine promises enhanced volume and savoury richness as it matures in bottle.

A barrel selection of the very best Chardonnay parcels from the vintage. It was fermented entirely with wild yeasts and matured in French oak barriques with battonage for nine months. Our style of Chardonnay has developed significantly over recent years with complex vineyard character coming from less clarified juice and natural yeast."  Vasse Felix 

Expert reviews

"The pale bright green hue is a come-hither start, amplified by the complex bouquet and even more complex palate, with all the hallmark Margaret River DNA multilayered depth to its cavalcade of stone fruits and barrel ferment inputs. Despite all this, there is a bell-clear line of high tensile acidity refreshing the finish. Drink by 2025."  James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion - 97 points and Top 100 Wines of 2013

"Another outstanding chardonnay under this label which is now firmly among the region's elite chardonnays. It continues the fine and leaner style established a few years ago, with slightly more richness than the 2011. Love the restrained minerally grapefruit characters with its cashew and brioche influences. The palate builds beautifully to the finish. Outstanding."  Ray Jordan, The WA Wine Guide - 97 points

"In 2012 this is a wine that has thrown away its corset in favour of a more natural feel. The fruit is pliable, curvy, tender and heaving with yearning. It seems like its scarlet days are long gone and this eager wine has blossomed into a full blown A-list heroine. You will never forget this flavour - it is a fulcrum moment for Vasse Felix."  Matthew Jukes – Top 100 Australian Wines of 2013

"Breathtaking focus and purity, capturing exquisite fruit and presenting it unashamedly with all the complexity of skillful craftsmanship. Delightful refinement and grace, yet still inimitably concentrated Margaret River Chardonnay."  Wine Business Monthly (WBM) - 97 points

"This is the best-value chardonnay in Australia. Super-fine, precise and flawless, with complex layers of stone fruits preceding a fresh finish."  David Prestipino, The Sydney Morning Herald - 97 points and Top 20 Wines of 2014

"This is a wine that sits at the peak of Australian chardonnay. There are few at this level but many thousands below. It's pure magic even at this early stage in life. To say I am impressed, overwhelmed and ecstatic is an understatement. 96 points and very good value at $65."  Tony Keys, The Key Review of Wine – 96 points

"Bright, medium yellow colour. Restrained but grapefruity, slightly tropical aromas with tightness and reticence. This is intense and alive, with a tautness and tension on the palate that promises more in the future if it's cellared. Extremely long, tightly furled finish. Impressive wine. Drink 2014-2022."  Huon Hooke, The Real Review – 96 points


The Sydney Morning Herald Top 20 Wines of 2014
James Halliday Top 100 Wines of 2013
Matthew Jukes Top 100 Wines of 2013

Virginia Willcock

Virginia Willcock, Chief Winemaker at Vasse Felix

Virginia Willcock is a prodigious talent who has been instrumental in taking the fortunes of Vasse Felix, a heavyweight in Australian wine and Margaret River’s founding wine estate, to the next level. Willcock joined Vasse Felix as Chief Winemaker in October 2006, is still there today, and believes her best wine is still to come.

To date Virginia has completed over 30 vintages in Margaret River, which makes her a respected authority on Margaret River and its terroir. In addition, she has also spent time abroad doing international vintages in Albania, Italy (Trentino, Sicily and Abruzzo) and New Zealand.

Virginia is one of the most awarded female winemakers in Australia, having been named 'Gourmet Traveller WINE Australian Winemaker of the Year' in 2012, 'Winemaker of the Year' by The West Australian Good Wine Guide 2013, and 'Winemaker of the Year' in the 2017 Australian Women in Wine Awards. Virginia was also nominated as 'Winemaker of the Year' in Wine Enthusiast Magazine 2014 Awards and 'Winemaker of the Year' in the ASVO (Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology) Award for Excellence 2016.

Despite her success, Virginia’s not taking her foot off the accelerator. And she’s constantly learning about the region she loves. "My winemaking has become more about a natural expression from a piece of ground," she says, "and every tiny piece of ground with every [grape] clone and variety behave differently. There’s amazing little personalities that come through that I’ve been able to discover."

Virginia Willcock, Chief Winemaker at Vasse Felix

Click on image to play video

The article below by Alana House appeared in

Virginia Willcock, winner of Winemaker of the Year at the 2017 Australian Women in Wine Awards (AWIWA), talks to Ray Ruano about following her passion and the challenges of winemaking.

For more than a decade, Virginia Willcock has been spreading the word about the unique, thriving Margaret River region, which has helped shape Vasse Felix into the thriving, global wine estate it is today.

Vasse Felix is celebrating its 50th birthday this year (2017) and was recently rated the best new world winery in the world by US wine publication Wine Enthusiast.

As a respected authority on Margaret River winemaking, Wilcock has represented the unique region through media and trade conventions and as a wine show judge, while completing almost 25 vintages in Margaret River.

Her journey to becoming a winemaker

From the age of 15, Willcock knew the world of winemaking was for her.

"My parents had a little vineyard, north of Perth and one day my dad came home one day and said 'You can study winemaking' and I went 'Wow! That’s exactly what I want to do'," Willcock recalls.

She went on to study winemaking at Roseworthy Agricultural College, which is now a part of the University of Adelaide.

"I loved the idea of growing fruit, and then turning it into something that could be more beautiful and would give people a lot of enjoyment," Willcock noted in a Vasse Felix’s biography.

Throughout her career, Willcock has gained extensive knowledge and experience from her travels on winemaking and the importance of wine regions in regards to the history of the land, soil and air.

She told Wine Australia: "My grape and wine philosophy is a beautiful natural expression of a place… When I smell the forest, smell the ocean, smell the beautiful dirt, I want to see some of that come through in the wine in a natural, earthy, rustic sense."

During her travels through vineyards, she has developed a passion for Cabernet Sauvignon, which is Margaret River’s best performing wine varietal.

Her love of Margaret River, home to Vasse Felix

Located south of Perth, the Margaret River provides a Mediterranean climate that makes it an ideal region for growing grapes and fine wine.

"I am blessed because Margaret River is such a great place to grow grapes, so that makes my job easier," Willcock admits with delight.

She believes that the Margaret River region is one of the greatest in the world as the wines continue to strive to reach their full potential.

"I wouldn’t want to be making wine anywhere else!"

Her passion and best advice

Willcock shared that it is important to have passion for what you do in life.

"You gotta be driven by your passion," she said: I think that if you’re passionate about something, you will always do really well because you love it. I think it’s the love for [winemaking] that has given me that drive to work as hard as you have to as a winemaker."

When asked what advice she would have given herself at the start of her career in wine, she said: "Get some practical experience before you study."

Although her family owned a vineyard, she admits she never participated in any of the winemaking

"Operating pumps, winery equipment, and just understanding what the processes are, from start to finish [is important]."

Life as a winemaker and the challenges of winemaking

As for the most rewarding part of being a winemaker, Willcock simply said: "I think it’s creating something new every year, something that is new and beautiful that represents that year, the conditions, and the place that you’re from."

She makes it clear that because you only get one chance every year, so you cannot "stuff it up".

"There’s an immense satisfaction in finding the best of what you can do on an annual basis," she said.

The winemaking process is a very important one as several decisions go into perfecting a bottle. For Willcock, the decision-making is a special aspect of winemaking.

"A number of decisions are made for every grape batch, when to harvest them, [and] how they will flow in the winery and eventually in the bottle." Willcock said. "Two hundred decisions are made for every little batch of wine. The decision not to do something is just as important as the decision to do something."

Willcock shared that having an intimate understanding of the land and where the grapes are grown is a challenge.

"Understanding the things that make [the land] different and being able to respond to that [is key] because it’s all about nature." Willcock said. "Nature delivers, and you just have to nurture it."

About the winery

Vasse Felix Winery

Vasse Felix was the first commercial vineyard and winery to be established in the Margaret River region of Western Australia. In 1965 Dr John Gladstones emphasised the region's suitability in his report ‘The Climate and Soils of Southern WA in relation to Vine Growing’. Two years later Dr Tom Cullity planted vines and Vasse Felix was born..

Tom was a cardiologist working in Perth when he decided to turn his hand to growing grapes. He searched obsessively for the perfect plot of land, taking guidance from the research of John Gladstones (1965), looking for 'red gravel in redgum country, with clay about 18 inches below the surface.' He eventually settled on an 8 acre piece of land near Caves Road by the Wilyabrup Brook which he purchased for the princely sum of $75 an acre! Among his first plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec vines was what we now refer to as Houghton clone Cabernet Sauvignon, the core of Margaret River’s finest Cabernets. This original plot of land now forms part of the Vasse Felix Home Vineyard which has been expanded over time to 52 hectares in size.

Tom used to drive down on the gravel roads from Perth to Margaret River after the working week to nurture his young vine plantings, work all weekend, before heading back to his 'day job' late on Sunday afternoons. Tom is quoted as saying of this period: “Much of the time, in different ways, I was on my own. I knew nothing except what I had read in books. There was no local source of basic equipment. Quite a lot of the local farmers must have thought it was a joke.”

In 1984, not long after retiring as a doctor, Tom Cullity sold Vasse Felix to David and Anne Gregg, who in turn sold to the Holmes Court family in 1987. Paul Holmes à Court is the current owner and Chief Executive Officer.

Vasse Felix’s range of wines includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends, with the major focus on Cabernet and Chardonnay, the strengths of Margaret River. Grapes are sourced from three Margaret River vineyards; the Home vineyard, Gnarawary vineyard and Adams Road vineyard.

Home Vineyard

The original Vasse Felix vineyard planted by Dr Tom Cullity in 1967 and the site of Margaret River’s oldest vines, with careful expansion made over time. The vineyard is home to Vasse Felix’s winemaking facility where all Vasse Felix wines are made and bottled, as well as the Vasse Felix Cellar Door and Restaurant. Located just 4km from the ocean, the Wilyabrup ridge elevation offers enhanced sea breeze exposure and lean, well-draining gravel loam soils suited to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Grows fruit for the Icon and Premier wines.

First Planted: 1967 
Soils: Gravel loam over clay 
Sub-region: Wilyabrup 
Altitude Range: 80 - 110 m
Total Area Under Vine: 52 ha

Gnarawary Vineyard

The Gnarawary blocks of this vineyard became part of the Vasse Felix Estate in 2015. Located centrally within the Margaret River Wine Region and experiencing cooler conditions to the Home Vineyard, this site’s free-draining lateritic gravel and moderate climate create an ideal environment for Chardonnay, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc. Grows fruit for the Icon and Premier wines and Alternative Collection wines.

First Planted: 1997 
Soils: Gravel and sandy loam over clay 
Sub-region: Wallcliffe 
Altitude Range: 75 - 95 m
Total Area Under Vine: 93 ha

Adams Road Vineyard 

The largest of all the Vasse Felix vineyards, this site was planted in 1998 in the warmer, Carbunup area of Margaret River. The vineyard grows fruit with ripeness, approachability and generosity of flavour, ideal for Vasse Felix’s Regional (Filius) wines and all-occasions Classic Collection wines.

First Planted: 1998 
Soils: Deep red to sandy loam, gravel and clay in areas 
Sub-region: Carbunup 
Altitude Range: 35 - 45 m
Total Area Under Vine: 146 ha

Vasse Felix Home Vineyard

The Home Vineyard

The story of the name 'Vasse Felix' and the bird on the label

An expedition was undertaken by the French to map the coast of Australia (New Holland) from 1800-1803. The expedition discovered the south-west coast of Australia but in 1801 disaster struck when nineteen-year-old French seaman, Timothee Vasse, was lost in the surf during a raging storm.

While originally thought to have drowned, nobody is sure what happened to the unlucky and unfortunate Vasse. Tom Cullity was an avid historian and hopeful that his vineyard would enjoy a happier fate, he named it Vasse Felix, meaning 'lucky' Vasse - felix being the Latin word for fortunate or luck. 

Vasse Felix Label, the peregrine falcon

The bird depicted on the label is a peregrine falcon. Most of the fruit for the first Vasse Felix vintage in 1971 was eaten by native birds, so Tom Cullity decided to train a falcon to keep the birds off the fruiting vines. The exercise, however, proved unsuccessful, as the first time the falcon was released to circle the vineyard it flew straight into the surrounding forest, never to return.

wine region map of australia

Western Australia

Western Australia is home to more than 400 wineries across nine vast and extraordinary wine regions which are almost entirely concentrated in the south-west and great southern land divisions of the State. The regions are Blackwood Valley, Geographe, Great Southern, Peel, Pemberton, Manjimup, Margaret River and Swan District.

The oldest region is the Swan Valley, the best known both nationally and internationally is Margaret River and the largest is Great Southern. The Great Southern region is further divided into the five subregions of Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup.

The history of wine production in Western Australia dates back to 1840 with the establishment of Sandalford in the Swan Valley region. The recognition of the fine wine possibilities started to be realised after the establishment of the Margaret River Region in 1967, which has become renowned for its high quality Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The other regions produce a diverse range of regionally distinct wines, from stunning Rieslings and evocative Shiraz, to a range of unique Cabernet Sauvignon blends.