Vasse Felix, Classic Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Margaret River

Virginia Willcock, Vasse Felix chief winemaker

Not just one but two stunningly well-made dry whites, one a whippersnapper, the other rather majestically mature.

Vasse Felix from AU$15.99, £11.50

Find the Vasse Felix

Argyros from €37.90, $62, SG$138

Find the Argyros

Today’s wine of the week, Vasse Felix, Classic Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Margaret River, is an absolute steal of a refreshing white wine with character. But because it’s available only in Australia and the UK (and occasionally sent in small quantities to Indonesia, Vietnam and Fiji, apparently), I’m throwing in a highly recommended, very serious, mature Greek white that is not available in the UK (alas) but can be found in the US, Greece, Cyprus, Belgium and Singapore (one for you, Richard!).

Vasse Felix is one of Margaret River’s most admired producers thanks in no little part to the hard work and enthusiasm of chief winemaker Virginia Willcock, pictured above by Wine Australia. So far they export only their sophisticated Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon to the US, and these are well worth seeking out. But this zesty, refined blend of Sémillon with Sauvignon Blanc should be of enormous interest to British and Australian bargain-hunters.

Vasse Felix Classic Dry White

‘Sem/Sauv’ is a classic blend in Western Australia’s prime wine region Margaret River. And the wine is simply called Vasse Felix, Classic Dry White 2021 in Australia where wine drinkers know just what to expect. The British supermarket Tesco wanted to spell out more precisely what they have been selling for £12 a bottle, hence the varietal labelling for the UK market.

I thoroughly approve of the lightweight bottle, with its handy screwcap, that weighs in at just 1,169 g when full. (Most wine bottles weigh over 1,300 g when full and some are well over 1,500 g.) Here’s my tasting note:

Smells much more Sémillon than Sauvignon – in an interestingly broad but not heavy way. Definitely not just another Sauvignon Blanc. The breadth of the palate here and the vague waxiness would make this a great food wine. But it's lithe rather than fat with convincing structure and a light textural bite on the end. Great balance. Really very nice! GV

This is an unoaked blend with the emphasis on fruit, and Vasse Felix have been making it since the late 1980s. Such is the reputation of both Margaret River and Vasse Felix that it comes as some surprise that The Wine Society are able to sell it for just £11.50 a bottle.

My Greek white, Argyros, Cuvée Monsignori 2017 Santorini, is considerably more expensive, but then it is made from vines that may be two centuries old, has benefited from bottle age and was scored a fine 17 out of 20 by Julia in early 2020 and a massive 18 by me when I tasted it last month.

Argyros Monsignori

My tasting note:

Full bottle 1,420 g. pH 2.85 is on the front label! This cuvée is, according to the producer, 'Argyros' vision of what Santorini Assyrtiko can actually be. Excessively old Assyrtiko vineyards, at least 200 years old, giving minute yields. Fermented, partially uninoculated, in stainless steel, at cool temperatures and aged for ten months in stainless-steel tanks on fine lees. A wine of breed, extract and length, that needs about four years in bottle to unfold and can be confidently kept for more than a decade after vintage.'
The first bottle I tasted seemed to have been matured, dulled and robbed of fruit, perhaps by this summer’s punishing heat during transport. But a second bottle was a revelation. So intense with steel, minerals, citrus in great concentration with real structure and bite but no shortage of enticing fruit. Like essence of Assyrtiko. Really wonderful.

Either of these wines would be superb in the current northern hemisphere heatwave but they are very fine, beautifully made wines that could be enjoyed wherever you are.

See Vasse Felix goes historical about the history of the estate and see Julia's profile of Argyros in her 2019 Santorini tasting notes part 1.