2008 Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot, Margaret River - Great Wine Estate of Western Australia - Release Date – Around April 2011
Voyager Estate is one of the most beautiful properties in the region. Proprietor Michael Wright has a reputation for fastidious attention to detail. He is a renowned teetotaller, but this does not stop him from running one of the most incredible winery operations in Australia. He loves farming and machinery. Every aspect of the estate is run like a well oiled piece of clockwork. Fabulous is probably the best word to describe the Cape Dutch Architecture, landscaped grounds, rose gardens and perfectly situated vineyards. The wine business is run by Alexandra (Alex) Wright a highly engaging and smart wine professional who has been able to translate her father’s outwardly eccentric vision into something tangible and meaningful. Winemaker Cliff Royle and Viticulturalist Steve James are both very motivated and ambitious. The wines across the board are spectacularly brilliant and bloody good value. Like the enormous flag pole that greets Voyager Estate’s visitors, these wines possess an authoritative house style and a compelling stamp of deliciousness. Technical mastery, winemaking panache and marketing flair all combine to make this one of Margaret River’s landmark producers.
The 2008s are looking marvellous. Indeed a vintage picture is beginning to form. The barrel samples show lovely fragrance and buoyancy of fruit. The cabernet sauvignons showed pure cassis/ fruit pastille/ herb garden/ violet aromas, lovely concentration and fine grainy loose knit tannins. Others displayed intense dark chocolate/ espresso/ mulberry notes and firmer/ slinkier structures; new oak always in the background and in perfect cahoots with the fruit. Merlot, which will only comprise somewhere between 5% and 10% of the blend was quite floral with fruit generosity and supple tannins. Voyager Estate has also been sourcing fruit from Wilyabrup – in central Margaret River – to add texture and richness. The 2008 Voyager Estate Cabernet is going to be a very classical wine if not a benchmark for the region.
The Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with some Merlot and Petit Verdot and vinification focuses on tannin management. All components are fermented in open or upright fermenters with regular pump-overs or plunging. Fermentation is conducted with small amounts of the 796 Bordeaux yeast strain at temperatures kept below 30ºC. Ferments take as long as 14 days before the wine is either pressed or left on skins for further texture and tannin modification. All the wine is inoculated for malo-lactic fermentation in tank and then transferred to barrel. The wood used at Voyager Estate is 100% French oak, tight-grained central forest and by using 50% new and 50% two-year-old barriques, the wine achieves the required balance. The wine spends 24 months in barrel with regular topping and racking before spending approximately 18 – 24 months in bottle prior to release. This is a model of contemporary Western Australian winemaking.
Andrew Caillard, MW
Located three hours south of Perth, Margaret River is Western Australia’s most prestigious wine-growing region. Serious vineyard development began only in the late 1960’s following the publication of a report by John Gladstones in 1965 stating that the area had a similar climate to Pomerol or St Emilion, with low frost risk, plenty of sunshine and equable temperatures within the growing season promoting even ripening. Margaret River’s climate is warm and maritime, with some cooling influence provided by southeast trade winds. The soils derive from granitic and a gneissic rock over which laterite has formed. The region can be divided in three sub-regions: the cooler south between Yallingup and Karridale with predominantly lateritic gravelly loamy sands and sandy loams; the warm and sunnier Willyabrup in the centre with predominantly gravelly loams, but some gritty sandy loams and granitic gravels; and Margaret River in the north with similar soils, but slightly cooler temperatures. This is entirely consistent with style; the wines from Willyabrup being more generous than the highly structured wines of the north and the elegant styles of the south. Margaret River is best known for high quality Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blends and top notch Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends. Over the years, the region has established an astonishing reputation illustrating a consistency in quality and a strongly focused winemaking culture.