Voyager Estate, Margaret River

It’s exactly a decade since I visited Margaret River in Western Australia, and I long to get back there. It’s a beautiful destination for its land and seascapes, white sandy beaches and fabulous Mediterranean climate. Add in the charming town of Margaret River with its tremendous foodie scene and friendly locals, then the icing on the cake is that Margaret River is home to some of the country’s finest wine estates.

Steve JamesI had visited Voyager Estate back on that 2009 trip through the region, and reported estate manager Steve James telling me he was working towards a “more organic based vineyard.” That ambition has been fully realised, as Voyager is now 100% organically farmed and in the process of the entire estate being certified organic. Steve is still at the helm as he has been for two decades, working closely with owner Michael Wright, who recognised the viticultural value of the land surrounding the cellar door, first planted in 1978.

There are now five separate but adjoining vineyard sites, all planted on well drained gravel soils. Off-setting has allowed a carbon-neutral operation, but this and environmentally sustainable practices are close to Michael and Steve’s hearts, especially as they report that the grape harvest is 3-4 weeks earlier than 15 years ago.

Voyager EstateCabernet Sauvignon is widely regarded as the Margaret River region’s best grape variety, and is a mainstay of the portfolio here too. But Chardonnay also exels on this terroir, and is a variety causing excitement across the region and world-wide as I reported last year.

Below are my notes on the latest releases of Voyager Estate’s Cabernet and Chardonnay for sale in the UK, though they also produces oak-aged, Graves-style Sauvignon-Semillon blends (which are also synonymous with Margaret River), as well as Chenin Blanc and Syrah.

An intriguing range appears under the ‘Project Wines’ banner, featuring wines made in concrete eggs, ‘Pet Nat’ styles of undisgorged sparkling wines, ‘Cane cut’ late-harvest sweet wines, and several other small batches of more experimental wines. It’s a fine estate producing beautifully pitched wines, and worthy of attention.

The Wines

(2019) Voyager Estate's 2016 Chardonnay is a class act, matured in French oak for 11 months (only 36% new barrels), and a complex blend of nine Chardonnay clones, naturally fermented with native yeasts. In many ways it is an exemplar of modern Australian Chardonnay, not over-ripe or over-oaked, with earlier picking lowering the alcohol and increasing the flinty, mineral-etched character of the wine. Some toasty and coffee-ish oak sets against stony, salty notes and lemon fruit, before the palate punches through, bright star fruit and Asian pear against more tropical fruits, the dazzle of pithy, zesty acidity, and all the time a lightly spicy and tobacco-infused infill from the time in barrel. A lovely Chardonnay, drinking well and it's savoury character bringing broad food-friendliness. Note: stockist at time of review is for an earlier vintage.
(2019) Just 6% merlot and 4% Petit Verdot qualify this as a Bordeaux blend, the 90% Cabernet Sauvignon hand harvested from the best vineyard plots and matured in fine grained French oak barrels for 20 months, 50% of the barrels new. A particularly dry and fine ripening season for the fruit, from 1978- and 1995-planted blocks. The colour is a deep crimson, and the nose is fragrant with a plush black berry fruitiness, intense cassis and lift of violet, and just a sheen of chocolaty oak. In the mouth the wine is concentrated, refined and juicy, there is a big backbone here, tight, fine tannins and crisp-edged acidity, as well as the tobacco and exotic spice of the barrel, but pure black fruit drives through the mid-palate. A wine that drinks beautifully now, but which will cellar for a decade and more. Note, stockist quoted at time of review is on a previous vintage.

Voyager Estate
Stevens Road
Margaret River
Western Australia 6285
Phone +61 8 9757 6354

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