I’m sure there is no real surprise at this revelation but I love to eat out. I can honestly say that heading out for a meal is one of my favourite things. As I cast my mind back over the last few years and I would say it’s been the time I’ve been with GG (so the last 8 odd years now), that our shared love of food has seen us venture here, there and everywhere for some amazing meals. Those that firmly remain in my mind are the ones where all the key elements align to create a perfect culinary experience. My focus first and foremost is on the food, enjoying the talented creativity of chefs and their kitchen teams to showcase beautiful produce, but I am partial to nice wines, service is important and general ambiance also plays a role. For me, it is when each of these has been considered that I find I have the best time.
As soon as you arrive at Voyager Estate you are struck by the beauty of the place. Surrounded by rolling vineyards, vine after vine just springing to life with green buds, the stark white Cape Dutch style cellar door and restaurant building appears resplendent against the blue skies and perfectly manicured gardens.
From the flawless Cape Dutch architecture and stunning gardens to the spectacular Wine Room and award-winning Restaurant, every feature of the Estate is designed to give you an inspirational experience.
Michael Wright (Founder), 1937 – 2012
At Voyager Estate you can enjoy a range of different wine tasting options. Keep things casual and rock up to the cellar door for a cheeky taste or two, or perhaps book in for something slightly more formal with a seated guided tasting. They actually have iPads set up on the tables which provide all the tasting notes in an app! An app you can also download onto your phone. Talk about tech savvy! Or if you are quite the wine buff and really want to soak up the experience then visit Michael’s Room. This beautiful space pays homage to the winery’s founder and is the perfect setting to be taken through a range of Voyager’s wines, whether that is the Estate Range, their creative Project Wines or for something flashy then the Museum Release wines are very special drops.
We began our visit to Voyager with a tour of the grounds, which was a wonderful introduction to the story of the Estate and also gave us a sneak peak at the production process. From looking at the vineyards to breathing in that distinct aroma of oak from the wine barrels, it was both interesting and informative. Plus, all that fresh air meant that our appetite was well and truly piqued by the time we returned to the restaurant.
The dining room is a decent size with generous spacing between tables. It extends its European stylings into the décor with wooden tones throughout, complimented with bright fresh, floral bouquets and interesting pictures and other artistic displays. It is elegant and refined, with plenty of vast windows to enjoy the views of the vineyards and lavish surrounding gardens. The chairs are cushioned and high backed and without a doubt the most comfortable I’ve sat on in a dining setting. It’s as though they know the Discovery Menu is a leisurely affair and they want you relaxed so you can fully immerse yourself in the three hour odd culinary experience.
The Discovery Menu is unique and while a few of the courses may always make an appearance, it does vary as a whole, with a focus on seasonal ingredients and what they have growing in the beautiful kitchen garden. In my opinion seasonal changes are the best. It means that what you are eating is at its peak. Colours and flavours are at their brightest and most vibrant and their natural wonder is being showcased. The added benefit is that you can call into Voyager Estate at different times of the year and enjoy a Discovery Menu with different dishes and ingredients! They’ll keep you on your toes with their creativity!
So with a glass of Voyager Estate Blanc de Blancs in hand our discovery began. The sparkling had a pleasingly crisp flavour and the right amount of effervescence to signal something celebratory, as I was sure this meal would be.
Bread and butter can be considered a fairly standard offering, but done well it can be entirely memorable, as it was here at Voyager Esate. A sliced mini loaf of freshly baked sourdough, still warm and nestled in a white napkin, it came served with two small jars of truffle butter. You could see the flecks of black gold dotted through the butter and as soon as you took the lid off there was an intense aroma of truffle. It was heady and it is times like this that I truly appreciate the wonder of the truffle. There’s a real indulgence to it, especially when mixed through butter and generously spread onto slices of warm bread. It was a situation which called for a high butter to bread ratio and we were all in. It was a heavenly introduction to the expertise of the kitchen team and it was ‘just’ bread and butter! Simple things, done very well.
The amuse bouche was a delicate ribbon of colour, the white rice crispy decorated with bursts of colour and flavor from the pink salmon mousses, zesty green yuzo gel and sprigs of fresh herbs and dots of roe. A mere whisper of a mouthful, but those beautiful flavours lingered and the taste buds were sparked into action and ready to go.
From this point on, each course outlines the story of Voyager Estate and the staff are well versed in the history of the Estate. Everyone who spoke to us, which primarily was the charming and knowledgeable sommelier Claire, told us the story with passion and pride and it is inspiring to listen to. Hard work, persistence, honing their craft and producing wines that best reflect the region’s conditions, the terroir. Now I’m not going to tell you the story. They do have details of it on their website obviously, but if you aren’t overly familiar with it, then the Discovery Menu is a creative and delicious way to hear all about it. The menu is carefully considered to tie in perfectly with all you are hearing about as you progress from course to course. So while I’ll share some photos and musings below on the delicious meal, I want to keep some of the mystery of the experience alive.
The first course was Scallop, abalone, foam, forage and was quite the seaside salute with the foam on the plate somewhat reminiscent of what you’d see crashing along the shore. The scallop was plump and sweet and the foam had a delicate white wine flavour that went perfectly with the Semillon Sauvignon Blanc which accompanied the first dish.
Up next was the Egg, soil, garden vegetables. This is by far and away one of the prettiest dishes I have ever seen, I mean just look at it! All that beautiful colour! It was one of those ‘almost to pretty to eat’ situations, but deep down you know you’ll soon enough be reaching for a fork to see if the flavour is as breathtaking as the appearance. And it was. There’s just something about those slow cooked eggs. The yolk doesn’t spill onto your plate like a poached egg, but instead it is almost molten. It has this incredibly silky texture and it made for such an interesting contrast to the panko and parmesan blended crumb and the crunch from the crisp vegetables. I am also very much pro flowers in dishes, they just up the pretty factor to another level.
Theatre can really enhance a dish, so when the Spatchcock, mushrooms, chardonnay jelly arrived in a cloud of mystical smoke it was entirely delightful. The smoke was there and then it was gone and the dainty dish remained. Just look at the teeny tiny mushrooms! Precious! And fried enokis – what a revelation! Perfect for adding some earthy crunch. Another winning dish, all the more so because it was matched with chardonnay, which I’m currently so enamored with, especially Voyager’s version.
The beauty of the next course, Crisp pressed duck confit, fragrant broth, is the element of interaction. I really enjoy duck and anything cooked confit is generally going to be melt in your mouth amazing, as this was. Quite a generous piece of duck too. I liked seeing the kale in this dish too, having earlier spied some growing in the kitchen garden, really embraces a paddock to plate mantra and highlights the focus on keeping things seasonal.
The divine red wines had started with the previous duck course, but the big guns came out when the Beef, seasonal vegetables, potato tendrils, truffle arrived. I don’t profess to be a wine expert by any means. I’m a wine enthusiast, I’m very enthusiastic about wine and the 2005 Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot is now sitting high on my favourite red wines list. It is just so luscious and still has plenty of fruit, despite the decade of age. It is a wonderful wine and perfectly paired with the tender beef fillet. This dish had the added decadence of sliced truffle. I enjoyed all the dainty vegetables too, lovingly prepared and included to provide texture and contrast. Then there was the potato tendril, like the fanciest curly fry you’ll ever eat.
We then paused to cleanse the palate with some green apple sorbet. The intensity of apple flavour they managed to capture within the dainty green ball amazed me. It was so refreshing and I loved the presentation on the curved silver spoons.
As with the preceding courses, and I had almost come to expect it after more than two hours at the table, the presentation of the dessert was stunning. Vanilla parfait, cremeux, rhubarb, green tea. An artistic sweet vision, which combined vibrant shades of green tea, purple petals and rhubarb rouge against the cream of the parfait and the dramatic splinter of white chocolate. The flavours were very well balanced with the chocolate and the fruit. It was heavenly.
This concluded our edible discovery of the Voyager Estate story. What a delicious adventure it had been. We reflected on this beautiful winery’s history as we further indulged in coffee and precious petite fours. It had been an amazing afternoon, an all-around tremendous dining experience that ticked all the boxes – stunning setting, friendly and attentive staff, perfectly matched wines and delicious food that was rich in both flavour and creativity. So if you are looking to schedule a memorable dining experience at a beautiful winery then book in a lunch at Voyager Estate.
Please Note: I was the guest of Voyager Estate for the tour of the estate, tasting and lunch. My thanks to the whole team for such an incredible invitation. Your winery is stunning and this was the best meal I have eaten in the south west.