Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot: A “Hall of Fame” Bordeaux Blend
In an article on Australian Bordeaux blends for the May edition of Decanter Magazine, the Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot was among 15 wines to make Huon Hooke’s “Bordeaux Blend Hall of Fame.” (Aussie Bordeaux Blends by Huon Hooke, Decanter May 2012)
Its inclusion on such a prestigious list, which included other Margaret River greats like Cullen Wines Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot, the Vasse Felix Heytesbury and the Brookland Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, should come as no surprise. Since the mid 1990s, the Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot has been one of the most consistently highly rated wines of its style.
Perennial high scores from one vintage to the next is due in part to a winemaking philosophy that believes in leaving nothing to chance. As Voyager Estate states on its website, “We are meticulous in everything we do: from site, varietal and clonal selection to vineyard management and winemaking.”
Indeed, reading about the labour intensive care devoted to each individual block in order to achieve uniformity – meaning “every vine within a specific block will have the same number of buds at pruning, the same number of shoots and the same number of bunches” – reminded me of the approach taken at top Bordeaux estates like Château Haut-Bailly and Château Pape Clément, where everything is done with an eye on perfection.
The goal at Voyager Estate is to give the Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot the absolutely best chance possible of expressing the true essence of its very special terroir.
The original ‘Old Block’ of the Stevens Valley site was first planted with cabernet sauvignon in 1978. Here the terroir of uniform gravelly soils formed from underlying granite and gnessic rock on a stony clay base allows for a slow release of moisture and nutrients to the vines. Coupled with the maritime climate of moderate winter rainfall and warm summers moderated by cool sea breezes, the conditions are ideal for growing Bordeaux varieties.
After Voyager Estate founder Michael Wright purchased the vineyard in 1991, he planted additional cabernet sauvignon on the North Block 12. Today the organically managed blocks produce complex fruit with great purity, superb tannins and a strong ‘sense of place’.
“Polished, complex and impeccably made,” was how the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown described the Voyager Estate’s range.. Here’s her review of the Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2005 vintage:
Blended of 79% Cabernet, 15% Merlot, 5% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot and spending 24 months in French Oak, 50% new and 50% two year, the 2005 Cabernet Merlot is a winner. Deep garnet colored, its aromas have subtly evolved into notes of warm blackberry, black olive, smoked game and a touch of soy sauce. Medium to full bodied, the palate is elegant and still quite youthful with high acidity and a medium to firm level of very finely grained tannins. The finish is very long. Drink it now to 2020+.(Wine Advocate #191, October 2010)
James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion rated the most recent 2008 vintage 96 points. At around $60 to $70 a bottle, this long ageing, top Bordeaux look-a-like is also surprisingly good value!
Photo Credit: Voyager Estate vineyard
Back vintages of Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot are available on the Cellarit Wine Market.