Q&A WITH TIM: PART ONE
Get to know our new Chief Winemaker in a two-part series of rapid fire questions, designed to delve a little deeper into Tim's background, passion and vision for Voyager Estate.
Complete the sentence. When you first laid eyes on our cellar door...
I had a lot more hair! It was 2004 and I was in my last year at Curtin University’s Margaret River campus. At the time I was impressed by Michael Wright’s clear ambition for the Estate. My (now) wife and I had one of our best Western Australian dining experiences in the restaurant. Would have been baked beans for a week after that.
What excites you most about joining Voyager as our Chief Winemaker?
I am excited to make wines grown from this ancient spot in Stevens Valley, from old vines managed by Glen Ryan, with decades of accumulated wisdom and the long-term commitment of Alexandra Burt and her family.
What makes the Stevens Valley so special?
Of all the wine-growing areas in Australia, there are just a handful of very special places that make wines that are not only distinctive but also world-class. The Stevens Valley is one such place, with all the known attributes of the wider Margaret River region but through a cooler and more detailed lens.
How do you like to begin the day?
My favourite way to begin the day is to be woken up on the wrong side of 6 am by my three children and our dog clambering over me until I have no choice but to get up and make them breakfast.
When you craft wine, what are you aiming to express?
The important role of patience and attention to detail, as well as the significance of beauty in human existence, even in very small doses.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the people who drink the wines we make. None of this happens without them! It is a privilege when someone is willing to part with their hard-earned to ponder, appreciate and savour the nuances that go into wine.
The proudest moment in your career to date?
In 2015 at Punt Road, when I took my first wines all the way from grape to bottle. Having worked under some remarkable winemakers for over a decade, I led the winery team and made all the independent decisions on harvest, wine style and maturation. I got lucky with the year; 2015 may be the greatest Yarra vintage of all time! We won the trophy for best Shiraz at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show. Whilst trying not to get too carried away, it was a moment of joy and frankly, a great relief.
How does the terroir in the Yarra Valley differ from Margaret River?
Well for starters, the weather seems to hold a personal grudge against vignerons! Without the ocean’s moderating influence, nights are cold, and days can be very warm. The Wurundjeri People identify a fifth season from November to December – “Buath Gurru” in Woiwurrung. It’s an unpredictable time between spring and summer with high winds and hailstorms, which coincides with fruit set. The gap between greatness and catastrophe is always a small one.
Favourite wine region outside Australia?
Predictably, Burgundy! The distinct villages each have their intricate hierarchy of terroir. I also love the humility and generosity of its makers.
What do you love most about Chardonnay as a variety?
It asks questions of the maker, such as the right oak selection and the length of maturation required in barrel and bottle.
What do you love most about Cabernet Sauvignon?
...because of its honesty. Pinot Noir on the other hand is a deceptive minx! If you plant Cabernet in the right spot and make thoughtful decisions in the vineyard and winery, then it inevitably becomes a complex wine with the potential to age for many years.
Stay tuned for part two in the coming weeks...