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We have often noted just how friendly the wine folk of the world are to each other.

Of course there are some rivalries, and the very occasional unpleasantness, but overall they respect and generously assist each other in a way you would find hard to imagine in any other ‘industry’ such as car making, computers or coffee machines.

That’s why TML was thrilled when the team from the Voyager Estate Masterclass brought their caravan into town as they have done for seven consecutive years.

Voyager flowers

Voyager is in the Margaret River region of Western Australia on the coast a couple of hundred kilometres south of the state capital Perth.

Identified in the 1960s as a promising area for growing premium grapes, the district stretches from Cape Naturaliste in the north to Cape Leeuwin in the south with a Mediterranean climate that has been compared to St Emilion and Pomerol.

Michael Wright, with a successful life in mining and agriculture behind him, bought into the Stevens Valley in the heart of the region in 1991. The property had been planted to grapes in 1978 and he invested in adjoining land to make up the present 110 hectares.

Voyager Estate This Magnificent Life

Before his death in 2012 he had turned the estate into one of the showplaces of the Australian wine industry. Visitors are delighted by the gleaming white Cape Dutch buildings set in beautiful gardens and of course the no-expense-spared wine-making facilities, and a truly spectacular restaurant, in itself worth a day trip down from Perth.

Voyager Estate This Magnificent Life

In Michael’s words “Every feature of the Estate is designed to give you an inspirational experience.”

One of his legacies is that he encouraged his winemaking team to constantly compare their wines not only against their highly rated neighbours, but against the world’s best. And so it continues with the travelling Masterclass.

This year featured nine chardonnays and nine cabernet sauvignon blends … the best of Voyager tasted blind against some of the world’s best.

We were led through the tastings by the happy team pictured here. James Penton, assistant winemaker; Steve James, manager of winemaking and viticulture and Travis Lemm winemaker and winery manager. At each reveal they had copious background information on each wine and led the discussion on vintage variation, techniques employed, differences we noted and why we may have preferred one over another.

Voyager Estate This Magnificent Life

In the chardonnays the familiar Voyager Estate release was put against two of their project wines, one from the Gin Gin clone the other the 95 Clone. These are priced at $45 and $55. Against these three we tasted deservedly famous chardonnays from the Yarra Valley, Tasmania and Beechworth in Australia, one each from New Zealand and California plus a Meursault from Burgundy, all from the 2012 vintage. These were priced from $65 up to $600.

For the cabernets there were four from Voyager including two single block wines, two from Bordeaux, one each from Chile, Tuscany and California. These were all 2011 except for the Cos d’Estournel and an older Voyager Estate both from 2004 to show us how cabernet matures. (Prices $70 to $395).

VGR MC 2015 PPT Slides-25

Generous of them, of course. Fascinating as well, with detectable differences in style, but very few points between them all in quality.

Lesson learned? Margaret River is a long way geographically from the world’s most lauded wineries but is so close in dedication and knowledge and therefore the enjoyment you will find in your glass.

Thanks team. Hope to see you all again next year.

Meanwhile you can pick up some of the attributes of Voyager at


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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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