As much as Voyager Estate’s Project Chardonnay duo impressed me greatly the other night, I think the Cabernet version might be even better again. Big call, I know, but these went down a treat in the Graham house.
For context, I’m definitely a fan of the Voyager Cabernet style, with the structured, occasionally leafy and clearly regional and varietal nature of the wines entirely welcome. They taste exactly how you want classic Margaret River Cabernet based reds to taste like. Fairly priced too.
Like the Project Chardonnnay series, the aim with this Project Cabernet duo is to demonstrate different components that go into the main game – the Estate Cabernet Merlot. The quality of the Project V9 component, in particular, sets these wines on an upper tier. Doesn’t hurt that the singular focus on Cabernet also makes these just that little bit more serious (or at least I think so). Both come from the 2011 vintage, which was warm and dry – ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon.
Voyager Estate Project V9 Old Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Voyager Estate Project U12 North Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
The focus here is to show the differences in vineyard components, with both wines coming from key Voyager Estate blocks. The V9 wine is sourced from the ‘Old Block’ planted in 1978, while U12 is the ‘North Block’ planted in 1995. No clone specified for the Old Block, but the North Block is all Houghton clone and with a slightly higher planting density. Fruit from both vineyards was handpicked (a day apart) and fermented over 21 days with thrice daily pumpovers. Further, both wines spend 18 months in barrel, 50% of which was new oak.
In other words, these two wines share much besides a fruit source. In fact the only other key difference is alcohol, with the North Block weighing in at 14% vs 13.6% for the Old Block (both have an RRP of $90). But that’s a minor difference really, and not enough to really shape the discussion. What I like is that they smell differently, with the Old Block a much more gruff beast, with more cedar and a little leafiness on the nose, immediately less open and ‘fruity’ than the U12. It tastes more condensed too, the palate tasting more like classic ‘flaghsip’ level Margaret River Cabernet, all powerful tannin drive with a little bitter herbs and a forceful finish. Classic, sharply defined, faintly bitter and very long palate. That length? Wow. In comparison, the North Block seems fleshier, more red berries, more open. It’s more inviting, more lush, the oak more cosseting. It’s sexier, in many ways, and it feels like ‘the future’ and I prefer it as a drink now. It is the Old Block, however, that is ultimately the pick, with impressive force and length making it the winner.
Two very fine Margaret River Cabernet, these impress with their detail and form. I’d recommend without hesitation. 18.8/20, 95/100 (Old Block), 18.7/20, 95/100 (North Block).
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