I’ve been digging in the notebook this week and discovered a choice tasting from last year that didn’t get a run here on site – the 2018 Voyager Estate Masterclass.
For some context, Voyager hold these masterclasses every year, and they’re often the highlights of the tasting calendar. Typically they pitch Voyager wines up against the best from around the world in a blind tasting.
But in 2018 the Masterclass was a celebration of Voyager’s 4oth anniversary, so we were treated to verticals of Chardonnay and Cabernet Merlot (plus some assorted tidbits).
As ever, notes are as written on the day and some extra bits in Italics. Very few bad wines in this collection.
Flight 1: Chardonnay
Truly impressive to see how the older wines in this flight look. Ageing much better than me. No shortage of acidity helps stylistically, but let’s not discount the quality.
Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2006
Some toast creeping in and butter, but a core of green melon fruit. There’s some fatty, bacon edges to hint at the bottle age, but no shortage of grapefruit acidity. More bottle aged decay on the finish but otherwise very fresh still. In good shape and lively, even if the fruit is somewhat on the decline, leaving the rampant acidity. Drink now. 17.7/20, 92/100.
Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2007
Very clean, very little bunches this harvest. Made with a commercial yeast.
A little more yellow, but you wouldn’t pick this as 11 years old. Lanolin, lemon balm, white peach. Maybe too acidic if anything and very backward despite the peach fruit trying to come through. It’s not quite congruent. Crazy for the age, but perhaps too singular to be great. I’m intrigued that this looks more youthful than the 06, but is it a more interesting wine? In an odd phase perhaps? Drink over the next 2-3yrs as a start. 17.5/20/91/100
Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2010
More wild ferment this year and more whole bunch press.
Green melon, citrus, a little yellow peach. Acid and oak in a congruent package. It’s still so young! Balance of flavour vs acid is the best of the line. Rather delicious and in its prime. Drink now to at least five years. 18.5/20, 94/100.
Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2013
The first wine to show some funk and it makes for an even more comprehensive wine. Oatmeal, grapefruit, lemon tang. A much more expressive wine and you can actually taste the fruit here (and alcohol). Well weighted. Quality, even if a little blunter than the ’10. Drink now to seven years. 18/20, 93/100.
Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2015
A little aftershave here. Cinnamon, proud grapefruit acidity, faint white peach. Is it a little too lean? Perhaps the artifice sits on top of the fruit, but classy underneath. Great acid drive to this. Maybe a little too firm acidity to finish. Hold for another 2-3yrs methinks then drink over 10. 18/20, 93/100.
Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2016
Soft cheese, butterscotch, lemon. It’s like looking into a prism for now, as the acid is very fresh, almost raw. Perhaps it will be a greater wine in time (I think it has the edge over the 15) but nascent now. There’s definitely more winemaking here – more layers of phenolics and texture too. Promise. I think this is the best of the young wines. Drink from 2yrs to ten easy. 18.5/20, 94/100.
Flight 2: Mixed Varietal
A mixed bag.
Voyager Estate VOC Chenin Blanc 2013
Cellar door only. Wild ferment, some new oak, some older and some tank. Spent 15 months in barrel.
Immediately varietal. Stony, but with an oak edge too. It’s almost fumè like with waxy edge and a sulphide funk. Prominent acidity interlocked with mealy oak, oak tannins to finish and firm, grapefrut juice acidity. Intriguing, but the predominant flavour is oak and stern acid. Drink now I guess. 17.5/20, 91/100.
Voyager Estate Project Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2015
I like the varietal definition here in this white Bordeaux style. Strident herbal aromatics and a powerful, bone-dry palate. It’s almost too severe but I actually really like the flavour here! It’s powerful and that precise firm form is impressive. A divisive wine even if it’s not easy I like it. Drink now or even wait a year and then for at least five after that. 18/20, 93/100.
Voyager Estate VOC Semillon 2006
Maturing gently, the palate becoming wide and gently grassy appley. It’s a soft and easy sort of a wine initially, but with a drying acid finish too. Interesting, but I don’t find this an easy drink – the finish is a bit raw for that. Drink now. 17.5/20, 91/100.
Voyager Estate Project Syrah 2016
Handpicked, lots of carbonic from whole berries.
Super bright and very different to the Voyager style. Seductive nose – bright purple fruit with boysnberry aplenty, and a lick of oak sweetness. A mid weight style with swish purple fruit and grippy tannins. Stylish wine this, even if the plum skins and tannins are just coming together. Pretty and approachable, with light extraction. The fine tannins are the winner here though. Wait 2 years then up to 15. 18/20, 93/100.
Voyager Estate Project W5 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Single clone Cabernet. Light coloured and elegant, there’s a certain lightness about this – it’s a Margaret River luncheon claret attempt. Fine powdery tannins to match the light and pretty fruit. Approachable and quite fine tannins. A beautiful light touch to this wine – great tannins. Drink now or in 15 years. 18.5/20, 94/100.
Voyager Estate VOC Petit Verdot 2012
Smoky, meaty, sweet and sour wine with ironstone tannins and a firm grip. Tannins tend towards astringency too. A blending wine, but that’s about it. Drink now. 16.5/20, 88/100.
Flight 3: Cabernet Merlot
50% new oak on average. Up until 2012 it includes Wilyabrup grower fruit. Such impressive consistency throughout this flight. Here’s more evidence of a professional estate, making high quality wine.
Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot 2002
Cork issues means very small pours. Boo cork! Cool vintage. Leaf litter and a little tobacco in a classic Cab nose, elegant palate is just starting to dry out leaving beef stock to compete with the dark berry fruit and lingering tannins. Drink up as the fruit is on the way out. Would likely have been a better wine under screwcap. Rough acidity too. 17/20, 90/100.
Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot 2005
Screwcap. Dark and faintly herbal aromatics with a decent leafiness, tannic and still tight palate is dry and just a bit severe. Lovely length of flavour, if just a little bitter. For mine this is still not ready. But will the fruit hold out for the tannins to resolve? Drink in another 2-3 perhaps. 18/20, 93/100.
Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot 2009
Much more youthful – there’s genuine briary fruit here and still very primary. Tannins are immediately softer and this is very well balanced – exuberant red and black berries and gentle tannins. Quality and feels much more balanced in context. A jubey and open wine. Maybe not as serious but plenty ripe fruit and attractive. Drink now to 10yrs. 18/20, 93/100.
Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot 2010
A more comprehensive wine. I notice the oak here. It’s a much more fleshy wine compared to the sterner wines before (except the 09). The balance between fine powder tannins and then juicy fruit is about right. A step up. I’d like to see a few more years. Drink after five then 15yrs. 18.5/20, 94/100.
Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot 2012
More nutty oak, but also much more concentration compared to the almost simple wines of 09 and 10. You feel like the weight of flavour vs tannins are about right here – the wine grew up a lot between 10 and 12. If anything this is more like the 2005 (but more precise). Drink now to 15 plus. 18.5/20, 94/100.
Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot 2014
The circle goes around again. A more moderate and mid weight wine. Bay leaf, menthol. Dark berries. Plush but with enough grip and tannins that it feels much more perfect. A complete wine here, even if it’s too young and a a bit raw. Better tannic balance too. Will probably be the pick of the line in time. 18.7/20, 95/100.