Reviewed: 19th October 2014
Although I have been visiting the Margaret River region for more years than I care to admit, up until now, I had not actually eaten at Voyager Estate. This proved to be the perfect excuse to have lunch with the family, as well as taste my way through much of the current range.
The facilities are some of the most impressive in the country. The stately, manicured grounds are a delight to behold, with various groups of people wondering amongst the flowers or just resting on the manicured lawns.
I was shown through to the private tasting room on arrival, where Voyager’s Sommelier Claire Tonon walked me through the range of wines currently on sale. The wines were uniformly impressive, happily occupying the middle ground stylistically. The wines are not over-ripe fruit bombs, but possess enough flesh to ensure that they do not appear astringent.
Travis Lemm has been in charge of the winemaking since 2009 and has been given the opportunity, not only to make the standard range, but also small parcels of excellent “project” wine under the VOC sub-range. The Merlot in particular was a highlight though production of any wine is limited to 100 – 120 dozen and the composition varies from year to year. This range is limited to cellar-door only.
The restaurant, under head chef Nigel Harvey lived up to its reputation. Each dish was carefully crafted and beautifully presented to showcase the fresh ingredients used. We tried a number of dishes (fish, venison, spatchcock and tofu), and all were delicious.
Of note was the fact that there were a number of back vintages available to drink by the glass. I tried the Chardonnay flight with my fish, which contained the 2011, 2007 and 2006. It was fascinating to see how the two older wines compared, given that they had very similar treatment in the winery (12 months in oak, 40% new, partial malo) The 2006 was still quite firm, with fresh acidity reflecting the cooler year, whilst the 2007 was richer and more viscous. Both worthwhile, but in different ways. The 2006 is likely to last for quite a few more years in a good cellar.
N.B. This was not a blind tasting, so my points are for illustrative purposes only
Voyager Estate – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – 2013 (17). Delicious, grassy nose with a floral lift. The palate is textured and quite complex, reflecting that a small portion wine used in the blend had barrel fermentation and lees contact. As the wine warms, the tropical fruit notes become more apparent. This is a good each way bet as it will work equally well with, or without food. (RRP $24).
Voyager Estate – Chardonnay – 2011 (18). A blend of 50% Gin Gin clone combined with other French clones that were planted in the mid-2000s. This has a very attractive nose that is redolent of peach/stone fruit. The palate leads with white nectarine and peach flavours and evolves into complex minerals and spice. The balance is exemplary. The high-quality fruit has been very well paired with fine, tight grained oak. Excellent length, depth and persistence round out the wine. Now to five years. (RRP $45).
Voyager Estate – Chenin Blanc – 2013 (16.8). The most approachable of the whites on the nose, with bright, floral and tropical notes to the fore. The palate is fresh, but has a surprising degree of depth. Whilst this finishes quite dry, the small amount (4gm/l) of residual sugar combined with a textural viscosity enhance the mouth-feel. Deserves to be popular this summer. (RRP $20).
Voyager Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Girt By Sea – 2011 (17.5) Attractive savoury notes over red fruit characters, with a souring, cherry-like backbone. The palate is succulent, but still has a degree of restraint and elegance. The souring acidity adds depth and life to the finish. The oak sits nicely in the background, allowing the fruit to speak. One of the best wines that I have seen under this label and a decent drink now. (RRP $24).
Voyager Estate – Shiraz – 2011 (18). Aromas of white pepper and spice to the fore on both the nose and palate. The fruit and tannins have been beautifully polished by the oak, making for a lovely drink now, but also allowing for improvement in the cellar. With air the structure builds, the chewy, drying finish allowing this to be paired with a variety of foods. (RRP $38).
Voyager Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – 2009 (18.5). The colour is just starting to turn at the rim, reflecting the extra time that this has had in bottle. The nose has blackcurrant and mulberry components, but there is a lovely savoury component that adds complexity. The palate is still firm, though there is a degree of refinement that is alluring. The finish is deceptively soft, as the power is palpable, lurking beneath the refinement. Long and fine, with dusty, powdery tannins to close, this is a lovely wine that will only get better over the coming decade. (RRP $70).
Voyager Estate – Semillon – VOC – 2013 (17.7). This is the first straight Semillon released by the winery since 2006. In many ways reminiscent of good Chardonnay, with a creamy, complex nose and citrus (orange blossom) notes. The main clue to the variety comes from the lanolin-like characters. The palate has minerals and spice, with complex struck-match characters coming from the winemaker’s inputs. (Cellar Door Only – RRP $38).
Voyager Estate – Merlot – VOC – Wilyabrup – 2012 (18.5). The only wine in the range that is from non-estate vines. Lush red fruits to the fore on the nose with floral highlights. That said, there is a lovely savoury lift here. The palate is dusty and taut, but that lovely red fruit character runs right across the mid palate. The length and persistence are a real highlight with firm but refined tannins. Quite a profound wine. (Cellar Door Only – RRP $55).