Voyager in WA’s Margaret River held an outstanding world styles tasting across all Australian states this year.

And their visit to Queensland was an eye opener for quite a few young sommeliers as the wines were served scrambled.

But Aussies are trained to become quite special at recognising style without obvious bias, and no doubt this accounts for the ongoing wine pre-eminence in the country, irrespective of origin.

Voyager Estate’s wines showed up very well; from my humble scores, equal top in chardonnay, equal fourth in shiraz, third in cabernet merlot, pointing the way for such outstanding wine examples grown in Margaret River, irrespective of variety.

The six chardonnays from the 2007 vintage went:

Bonneau du Martray (it is grand cru from Corton Charlemagne, Burgundy); pale, linear nose, closed, taut, lees, tight, very, very, restrained, 95 (USD 259),13.5%; Voyager Estate Margaret River; pale, linear, lot of oak, barrel-ferment, fruit weight, taut, good solids funk, 95 (USD 74 ),13.2%; Leeuwin Art Series Margaret River; pale, linear, sweet lemon oak nose, lemon curd fruit, linear, powerful, taut, 95 (USD 106) 14.5%; Craggy Range Les Beaux Cailloux Hawkes Bay NZ; pale, linear, lot of oak, lemon, barrel ferment, aromatic, agro acidity says NZ, 95 (USD 72),14.5%; Giaconda Estate and Nantua Vineyards Beechworth; straw, bacony, clumsy, lot of funk, lot of flavour, some botrytis, complex, 91, (USD 72),13.9%; Kistler Vine Hill Vineyard, Sonoma, straw, advanced age, bacony, forward, clumsy, plenty of everything, 89, (USD 110),14.1%. The latter was clearly not in sync, and was from a much warmer growing region.

There were six shiraz from 2008 vintage, and one Rhone 2007, were:

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier Canberra; light purple, red fruits, cedary-sweet oak, brute flavour, fine soft tannin, 95, (USD 72), 14%; Dalwhinnie Moonambel, Pyrenees, cherry, red fruits, aromatic oak, spicy red fruits, juicy, 94 (USD 67), 13.5%; Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah, Gimblett Gravels, NZ, purple, smells of extract, cold soak, power and pepper, lot of spice, fine, 93, (USD 120), 14.5%; Cote Rotie (Rene Rostaing) La Cuvee Classique, Rhone, pale, dull, whole berry ferment, plump and ripe, pepper, funk, tannic and chewy, black fruits, warmer area, 92, (USD 120), 13%; Shaw and Smith Adelaide Hills; deep purple, shavings, aromatic fruit, sweet and juicy, lot of tannin, some of it hard, 92, (USD 36), 14%; Voyager Estate, Margaret River, deep purple, funky fruit, brambles, juicy, oyster shell oak, very fine and soft, 92, (AUD 33) 14%.The Voyager has made using 40% new oak, 80/20 French to American, has lots of anise oak and blueberry fruit.

The seven cabernet and merlot blends from 2005 were:

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, Bolgheri, Tuscany; great colour, ripe and juicy, tannic/dry, a rush of plush fruit and lasting red flavours, 95, (USD 250), 14.5%; Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Napa; medium colour, aging purples, earth, brett, bonox, juicy, very dry, power, 94, (USD 63),13.9%; Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot; medium purple red, smells tannic, brett, drying tannins, currants, could have more flesh, 92, (USD 58), 14%; Balnaves The Tally, Coonawarra, good purple-red, Italianesque, feral, earthy/aged, mint, sweet oak, quite tannic, greener fruit and acids, 91, (USD 95),14.5%; Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot, Margaret River, light cherry, cedar, leafy, cool region, good backbone, powdery tannin, 90 (USD 115), 14%; Te Mata Estate Coleraine cabernet, merlot, franc, Hawkes Bay, NZ, medium red, earth, plums, spice, restrained nose, cedar, very powerful, tannins, a bit square, needs time, 90, (USD 92), 13.5%; Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac, Bordeaux; cherry, red, mint, leaf, fruity, very high acid, bonox fruit development, only fair, 90, (USD 337), 13%; Mount Mary Quintet, Yarra, cabernet, merlot, franc, malbec, verdot, browning and fading, spicy, ripe, old and aged, angular now, dried out to oak, 87, (USD 154), 13%.Voyager is made from 32 year-old cabernet and 17 year-old merlot, is 79% cabernet, 15% merlot, 5% malbec and 1% verdot.

It was quite clear that the Mount Mary was suffering from an exhausted cork, allowing oxidation. Voyager winemaker Travis Lemm said that the Bordeaux had shown awful bottle variation out of the 36 purchased, to the extent that it was difficult to get a fix on what exactly was the wine. There was a high incidence of cork taint where bottles were tipped down the drain, and others either oxidised or cork-modified. On the day in Brisbane Travis indicated the bottle to be quite a typical Pichon-hurrah, but how disappointing for Bordeaux buyers of this Chateau.

As a benchmark tasting Voyager Estate wines figured very well, and no doubt the production team can workshop some ideas towards making their wines more elite to taste.




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