Voyager Estate
30 August 2022 | Voyager Estate


You’ve probably heard the old adage, ‘Cabernet is king’ and globally, this definitely rings true. Cabernet is the most widely planted grape variety in the world, crafting some of our most revered and long-lived red wines.

In Australia however, the story is a little different. Shiraz is our key red grape variety, and we’re home to the world’s oldest Shiraz vines believed to date back to 1843! This is largely due to the wine boom of the '80s and '90s, which saw it planted in nearly every wine region across the nation. Initially, the Shiraz that emerged was rich, structured, oak-driven, and packing a flavour punch – a wildly popular style, and one that Australia would become famous for.

In Margaret River, this thirst for big, bold Shiraz threw winemakers a bit of a curve ball. Situated in a climate with cooling coastal sea breezes, we struggled to achieve the dominant ripe fruit characters that fans had come to expect when they picked up a bottle of ‘Australian Shiraz’.

Thankfully, as our so called ‘classic style’ continued to grow impossibly big through the early 2000s, a quiet revolution began; one that favoured a lighter touch in the vineyard and winery to allow the elegance and perfume of the variety to shine through. This new expression bore more resemblance to the French style of Shiraz known as ‘Syrah’ – a wine that was more medium-bodied and savoury, produced in a much cooler climate.

It was about this time, when conversations about the potential of Syrah in Margaret River were just beginning, that the Voyager team identified a section of our U11 vineyard that was special.

“This particular section had the perfect aspect with that slight north face. At the top of the ridge, the soils were harder, bonier and a bit more gravelly and free-draining” recalls Winemaker James Penton.

“We wanted to pick it as an individual section, so we did complete hands-on viticulture – reducing fruit loads to only one bunch per shoot to increase flavour intensity and removal of lateral shoot growth to increase airflow and sun exposure. Different to the rest of the block, purely because we wanted to see just how good a quality of fruit we could produce.”

The Project U11 Syrah was born. Today, the spirit of innovation continues as we launch our certified organic 2020 vintage – fresh, bright, silky and bursting with red berries, mocha and sage. A culmination of many years of gentle exploration, reducing oak influence and experimenting with concrete. It grows more exciting with every release.

Over the years, our Cellar Supervisor Richard Bramston has played a driving role in the creation of our Syrah and its evolution. “We’re loving what concrete does with the wine to really finish it off and round out any rough edges. The 2020 had three months’ maturation in concrete at the end. It did an amazing job and it’s definitely a go-to now! I love that Shiraz is like the Chardonnay of reds – it allows us to play with technique. That’s the exciting part of working with it” he says.

There’s no doubt that Syrah is very much at home here in Australia, with so many delicious and nuanced expressions hitting the shelves. At Voyager, the team will be looking to evolve our version to let the fruit do even more of the talking.

“We’ll identify new techniques in the winery that allow us to work more with stalks to fine-tune those beautiful aromatics and build better tannins in the berries, rather than acquiring them from oak” continues James. “The more work we do in the vineyard, the better and more expressive our wines will be.”



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