The reputation of a wine region can be built in a relatively short period of time. A case in point is Margaret River, in southwest Australia. Credit has to be given to viticultural scientist Dr John Gladstones, for discovering the region's potential. His seminal 1965 paper, The Climate and Soils of South-Western Australia in Relation to Vine Growing, marked a turning point in Australian wine history. Relying on the research, Dr Tom Cullity set up the area's first commercial winery, Vasse Felix, in 1967. Today, Margaret River is home to 200 wineries and is renowned as a top-quality wine-growing region.
According to wine writer James Halliday, "When the first Margaret River reds came out on to the market in the eastern states in the mid-1970s they made a huge impact. There was clarity and a delicacy to their red fruit flavours and elegance in their structure which immediately set them apart … Almost overnight Margaret River became the most fashionable address in Australia, its future assured, its potential unlimited."
The region is perhaps best known for its chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. One winery producing consistently high-quality and value-for-money wines is Voyager Estate, located in Stevens Valley, where the Mediterranean climate, with its warm summers and maritime influences, is perfect for winegrowing. Voyager was founded by mining tycoon Michael Wright. In 1991, he acquired the winery formerly known as Freycinet and continued its expansion. Today, Voyager is under the management of his daughter, Alexandra Burt. The winery is dedicated to vineyard balance and sustainability. The wines are immensely drinkable, offering purity of fruit, and epitomise the best the Margaret River area has to offer.
Voyager Estate Chenin Blanc 2014
As an alternative to the ubiquitous sauvignon blanc, try the often overlooked chenin blanc. The Margaret River version of this wine has evolved a different style to that of the steely, mineral notes of France's Loire Valley chenin blanc.
In keeping with Voyager Estate's Cape Dutch architecture, its chenin blanc vine cuttings are from South Africa.
Vibrant apple, citrus flavours. Medium body with refreshing acidity, a touch of sweetness and a clean finish. Very approachable. HK$148
Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2011
Chardonnay is a winemaker's wine. The grape allows the winemaker to put his or her personal fingerprint on the final product. Voyager's chardonnay comes from nine clones, adding nuance to the wine's personality. Barrel fermentation and partial malolactic fermentation decreases acidity and adds to the creamy, buttery texture of the wine, which is aged in a blend of new and used French oak for 10 months.
Citrus, buttery, nutty notes. Round, with medium acidity, finishing with some creamy, leesy notes. Elegant, complex and beautifully balanced. HK$288
Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2008
A blend of 86 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 12 per cent merlot and 2 per cent petit verdot. Matured in a mix of new and used French oak for 18 months.
Dense black fruit, with some savoury, leathery notes. Elegant, with well-integrated tannins, framed by discreet oak flavours. Finishing very long. HK$365
The wines are available from East Meets West Fine Wines emw-wines.com