Firstly, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Christmas at my house was slightly more raucous this year, as we had a (welcome) influx of English and Irish orphans to ramp up the festivities just a tad.
While that probably meant I drank even more beer than usual (plenty of these were consumed), it also served as a great excuse to open even more of the tastiest looking wines in the fridge.
Enter this Chardonnay pair from Voyager.
I’ve tasted various Voyager Project Wines range (which typically focus on Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon) over the years, typically during Voyager’s superb annual benchmarking masterclass. This is the first time I’ve sat down for a full ‘bottle test’ with them though.
The premise behind this range is to show different components that go into Voyager’s Estate wines. But it’s more than that, as these do feel like premium parcels (and priced accordingly). With this pair of white wines the aim is to highlight how different clones influence the Voyager Estate Chardonnay – and what fun that is.
I tasted both these alongside each other and went back and forward over about an hour.
For a little context, both wines come from handpicked (4th February for the Gin Gin clone and 5th February for the 95 Clone) fruit, sourced from two blocks alongside each other planted at similar times.
If there is one key difference between these two closely matched wines it is that the Clone 95 wine went through malolactic fermentation, while the Gin Gin didn’t, a reflection of the notorious hen and chicken fruit set of this Dijon clone, which typically produces wines with much more acidity. The alcohol is also lower on the 95 (12.4%) vs the Gin Gin (13.2%), and both wines spent 11 months in 40% new oak. RRP is $55.
Voyager Estate Project 95 Chardonnay 2012
Voyager Estate Project Gin Gin Chardonnay 2012
What a joy it was to taste these two together. A delicious face of modern Chardonnay, showing a precision and detail that is admirable. Indeed quality-wise these wines are on a par, with preferences largely down to personal tastes (I wavered between both). Picking differences I did see more more golden buttercup flavours (which could well be influences by the malolactic fermentation) in the 95, but also more milk bottle sulphides. What is interesting is how modern the Project 95 looks, the Gin Gin more classic white peach Margs and a bit more generous, which may also be an attribute of the extra alcohol. If I do have a criticism it is that both wines may be just a little lean, but you’d imagine that should sort itself out in time.
Ultimately, if I have to choose sides, I think I prefer the delicacy of Project 95, compared to the grapefruit acid of the Gin Gin. But I wavered so many times. Such intrigue! The acid balance here is impressive – bone dry and minimal malo, there’s an extra thump of flavour in the Gin Gin, but I do prefer the balance of the more acidic 95. I’d drink either wine regardless – a very enjoyable experience. 18.5/20, 94/100 for both, pushing 95/100 with another 6 months in bottle. Big yes.