The tasting of the year: Voyager Estate Masterclass 2014
Each year the team from Voyager Estate do a lap of the country, putting on masterclasses involving pitting their own wines against the best of the world in single blind brackets. It is, typically, the tasting of the year.
Seriously, the whole year.
What makes this masterclass so good is threefold. Firstly, the wines are always top-class international examples. Secondly, the notes on each wine and the presentation is painstakingly detailed and accurate. Third, the Voyager Estate wines typically look good blind, which only makes it that much more rewarding for Voyager themselves.
This 2014 of the Voyager Estate Masterclass iteration sees the range of 2011 Voyager Estate Chardonnays placed in a bracket with various 2011 Chardonnay from around the world, and the same with the 2010 Voyager Estate Cabernet wines paired with various 2010 Cabs and blends.
As you can see by the list of wines, there was no shortage of glory here, with differences often a case of personal preferences (and how individual bottles looked) rather than pure quality. In turn, my scores look rather conservative in the scheme of things and I think most of these I’d appreciate just by themselves.
Anyway, on with the show.
These were served in two single blind brackets in great glassware, under good conditions. Background info in italics and notes as written on the day.
Bracket 1 – Chardonnay
1. Moreau-Naudet Forets 1er Cru Chablis 2011 $76 12.5%
‘The unmistakeable marmalade of botrytis’ according to Steve James. Forets is a lieu-dit in the Montmains cru. Spends 24 months in a mix of 1/3 old barrels and 2/3 in tank.
White peach. Very fine nose. Almost milky yeast and oak yet there is a white nectarine ripeness too. New world. Classy and long with a great balance between oak and yeast. Maybe a fraction warm to finish, with just a little figgy ripeness. Classy though. 18.1/20, 93/100
From a single block of clone 95 vines planted in 2004. 11 months in 60% new, 40% one year old oak. pH 3.22, TA 6.95.
From close planted vines planted in 1989. Fermentation in 20% new oak and lasts as long as 90 days. Bottled after 17 months.
Spicy and quite oak drawn nose. The palate looks quite lean, with an acid attenuation that suggests limited malo. Just a bit to sharp edged at present. Classy wine to come though. 17.7/20, 92/100
Whole bunch pressed, barrel fermented, and all wild yeast. Full malo. 12 months in barrel. pH 3.23. TA 7.1. I normally love this wine and unusual to see it show up looking only good. Retaste required.
20% botrytis in the fruit (which shows). Wild ferment in six year old plus oak. 12 months on full solids. pH 3.32. TA 7.4.
Classy nose. Full but contained, with pineapple fruit richness on a creamy palate. A leap back to the top step and such a complete wine. Burgundian. Has excellent weight. though might be a bit OTT. Wine of the day. 18.7/20, 95/100
From a very cold summer. Half the crop lost to rot and declassified barrels. Whole bunch pressed. Wild ferment with regular lees stirring and full malo. 11 months on full lees on 24% new oak. pH 3.37. TA 6.7.
Cabernet + blends
Succulent. A quite transparent and pretty nose with a fine, subdued palate. Straight Cabernet? Very linear but also has some warm season confection. Yeringberg? Has a Cab Franc like liveliness. This will make ethereal old bones. On second look this looked almost Pinot like. Long haul glory. 18.5/20, 94/100+
Gravelly notes. Overt leafy varietal character. For all that tobacco and mint, however, it’s nicely ripe and doesn’t look herbal or overripe. For a classic Cabernet style this is really quite beautiful, if somewhat of a caricature – big and bold. Maybe just a little raw and drying. Length is very impressive though. 18/20, 93/100+
58% Cabernet. 36% Merlot. 6% Cab Franc. Warm ferment with extended maceration on skins. 19 months in predominantly new French oak. Herbal as always. But I’d drink it.
96% Cabernet. 4% Petit Verdot. From a block planted in 1978. pH 3.74 TA 6.56. I honestly thought this was Bordeaux.
77% Cabernet. 10% Merlot. 6% Petit Verdot. 4% Malbec. 3% Cab Franc. Wild ferment. No acid addition. 19 months in French oak. 51% new. pH 3.61. TA 5.56.
97% Cabernet. 3% Petit Verdot. 16 months in 76% new and 24% one year old oak. pH 3.67. TA 6.5.