Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia

Voyager Estate Annual Masterclass 2015

There are many wines we hold in high esteem and inspire us, and each year, we select some of the best examples of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon blends, sourced from around the world, for our annual comparative tasting.

A fixture on the Voyager Estate calendar, this is the seventh consecutive year of the Masterclass Series, providing us with the opportunity to share and discuss the developments occurring in our own vineyards and winery. Steve James, Manager of Winemaking and Viticulture, Travis Lemm, Winemaker and Winery Manager and James (Jimmy) Penton, Assistant Winemaker all relish the opportunity to both reflect on the past year and talk about some of our initiatives that have given them inspiration and excitement, whilst looking at highlights and challenges faced by other winegrowing regions.

Our Chardonnay bracket featured wines from the outstanding 2012 vintage with excellent Australian examples such as Tolpuddle from Tasmania, Giaconda from Beechworth, Seville Estate Reserve from Yarra Valley and, of course, Voyager Estate from Margaret River. These were presented alongside new world Chardonnays from Neudorf Moutere in New Zealand and Littorai from California, and representing the old world, a wonderful white Burgundy from cult producer Coche Dury from Meursault.

The Cabernet bracket was from the more challenging 2011 vintage and was all about international exploration, visiting Chile, with a wine made in partnership with the Rothschild family called Almaviva, Tuscany with new producer Dulcamara, Pauillac featuring Chateau Pontet Canet and California with the famous Ridge Montebello.

We also included two aged Cabernets, the 2004 Chateau Cos d’Estournel from Saint Estèphe, which certainly created some robust discussion and our own 2004 Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot to show the longevity of great Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon.

Included in the two brackets were four of the Voyager Estate Project wines which are a deconstruction of our Estate Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. They are all single block wines, with the Chardonnays also being single clone wines, namely our Project 95 Broadvale Block 6 and Project Gin Gin Broadvale Block 5. The two Cabernets were our Project Old Block and Project North Block, both blocks being the key elements in the Estate wine.

The roadshow took us all around the country beginning with The Trustee in Perth and moving on to The Botanical in Melbourne, Hotel Hotel in Canberra, Otto in Sydney and finishing at the Stokehouse in Brisbane ten days later. Across eight fascinating sessions the wines were all tasted blind in two brackets of nine wines. The participants knew which wines were included in each bracket but not the order they were tasted in. It is always great fun as we reveal the wines one by one and see who in the room managed to pick the wines correctly – it is certainly a great leveller for all tasters!

The Chardonnay bracket was exceptional and consistently wowed the room especially as the opportunity to taste the famous Coche Dury is very rare and it didn’t disappoint, showing huge depth and complexity. Given that all the Cabernet based wines were from international producers, with the exception of the Voyager wines, and most of the world had a very difficult vintage in 2011, there were some disappointments in the bracket it has to be said. Whilst some of the highly rated producers really struggled with the vintage, it also proved to us why following a great producer is so important, because even in difficult vintages, good producers can still make great wines.

For Margaret River, 2011 was a terrific vintage and we were able to show wines with beautiful structure and tannin development and, although we didn’t take a structured vote, we were thrilled that in most sessions our wines were universally acclaimed as favourites in the bracket, and, in fact, all our wines in both brackets looked very much at home in such esteemed company.

Our Cellar Door in Margaret River has a range of tasting opportunities, including the Project wines on offer. To see what wine experiences we have available or to purchase any wines, visit www.voyagerestate.com.au.