We have lift-off!
Will Byron, Kaspar Hermann and Sam Middleton have blasted us into the midst of Mornington Peninsula’s fantastic 2021 harvest.
A white, pink and red have landed in the portfolio in one hit – the third of those being a youthfully exuberant Shiraz raised in a futuristic stainless-steel egg that the boys nickname ‘the rocket’.
The other two wines are both from Pinot Gris: The best rendition yet of the classic peninsula style – fresh, textural and long – plus the skin-contact cult-hit known as ‘The Level’.
These arrive hot on the heels of the Chardonnay’s roll to 2020, while the Pinot Noir recently moved to 2019.
It’s a range on superb form, topped off with three consummate and characterful single-site wines: Tuerong Chardonnay; and Pinot Noir from Red Hill and Leongatha.
The word ‘popular’ springs to mind when you think of Onannon. People love drinking these wines, and always have since their debut from the 2008 harvest. They ooze class and personality but always retain a sense of levity and joy .
And the three men behind them – Will, Kaspar and Sam – are affable blokes whose good-natured modesty belies a fierce talent.
WHITE – REGIONAL
2021 Onannon Mornington Peninsula Pinot Gris $32
The fruit was handpicked and whole bunch-pressed, settled overnight, then racked with some solids into old puncheons. Half of the must was seeded immediately with the CY3079 yeast and the other half was left to ferment naturally. 100% malolactic conversion. The wine saw only minimal SO2 just prior to bottling in July. 12.7% alcohol.
Pear skin, quince and lemon verbena on the nose, and these carry onto the palate with a touch of wood spice. The wine finishes dry with some tonic water bitterness. – Will Byron, Onannon
2020 Onannon Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay $40
A blend of three vineyards; one in Tuerong, one in Flinders and the other in Red Hill. 20% of the wine was fermented and matured in new oak. Plenty of lees stirring early in the piece. 100% malolactic fermentation. Mostly left unsulphured until just before bottling in December 2020.
Invariably lovely wines from Onannon. Nectarine, ripe grapefruit, vanilla wafer biscuit, a little spice and flint. Smooth and even delivery of ripe Chardonnay flavour, a creamy gloss with a ripe citrus tang, a little bit savoury, a little bit fruity, but finds ideal balance for pleasurable drinking. Finish offers watermelon rind and lime zest, and goes pretty long.94 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
AMBER – REGIONAL
2021 Onannon ‘The Level’ Skin-Contact Pinot Gris $32
Pinot Gris grapes picked by hand from our home base in Red Hill. The fruit went straight into a three-tonne stainless-steel open fermenter. There it was saturated in CO2 and sealed up, away from the world for 14 days. The fruit was then pressed and sent straight to two old puncheons.
The wine finished its alcoholic fermentation and malolactic conversion over the next 10 weeks in oak. It was racked off lees into tank at the start of June, then racked again off the remaining lees again a week after and then bottled without fining. 12% alcohol.
This 2021 is very aromatic, with strawberry, guava, plenty of whole-bunch spice and fresh green herbs. The palate is dry with some nuttiness. – Will Byron, Onannon
RED – REGIONAL
2019 Onannon Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir $40
Onannon Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir is grown on three vineyards: Onannon’s original Red Hill site (23-year-old vines, MV6, 777), a site in Shoreham (20-year-old vines, MV6) and another in Balnarring. 10% whole bunches, no new oak. Unfined. In 2019 the fruit really sits in the front seat. It’s darker than the previous couple of releases, blue moving into black fruits with some cardamom/star anise spice notes from the bunches. On the palate the fruit really attacks, again led primarily by darker fruits that at the moment seem to swallow the bunch spices. The wine finishes with sour cherry echoes and fine tannins. – Will Byron, Onannon
2021 Onannon Mornington Peninsula Shiraz $32
From a single site on the Mornington Peninsula, this wine is made using 30% whole bunches. 20 days in total on skins and matured in a stainless-steel egg we call the rocket.
Blue/black fruits, bunch spice and treacle on the nose. The palate has some density and tannin, and finishes brightly with sour red fruits. – Will Byron, Onannon
WHITE – SINGLE VINEYARD
2019 Onannon Single-Site Tuerong Chardonnay $54
The wine comprises Chardonnay clone 95. The fruit was whole bunch-pressed and then sent straight to barrel (33% new oak) to ferment with indigenous yeasts. Of the three barrels, one was sulphured three weeks later after fermentation to prevent MLF; another was sulphured three months later after building some texture on gross lees. And the last barrel was left unsulphured all year to go through malolactic fermentation. All the barrels were stirred monthly. The wine was blended in early December, filtered and bottled in late December 2019.
It has a pronounced nose with very classy oak, nutmeg spice, white flowers and sweet, inviting fruit. Skips along though with plenty of flavour. Spice, zip, and great style. Delicious.
This is pretty spiffy Chardonnay it has to be said. Chardonnay of line and length. It’s funky on opening but it quickly straightens up and settles down. White peach in all its pure glory; flint; the freshness of nectarine; the fibre of cedarwood runs towards nodes of woodsmoke. The finish is a spinnaker in which flavour is held. We are in beautiful territory here.94+ points. Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
RED – SINGLE VINEYARD
2018 Onannon Single-Site Leongatha Pinot Noir $63
The wine is a mix of several clones: D5, MV6 and 777. The grapes were destemmed into an open stainless-steel pot and fermented with indigenous yeasts. The wine was pressed after two weeks on skins to barrels (30% new) with full solids. It went through malolactic fermentation in the spring. After 12 months in barrel the wine was blended into tank where it sat for two months on fine lees. It was given a light filtration and bottled in August 2019.
Smoke, roses and leatherwood honey on the nose with glacé cherry. Bright and focused, grace and poise. Seemingly light frame yet very athletic structure – streamlined, toned acid and silky tannin with subtle authority. Elegant structure and great clarity. Savoury finish.
Fresh, frisky, strawberry and mint, perfumed too, and a modest amount of smoky earthiness. Limpid and fine, cool feeling, with a stroke of emery tannin, sap and spice, and a lively finish of excellent length. Beautifully made and so pleasing to drink. Touch and go for a higher score.94 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
2018 Onannon Single-Site Red Hill Pinot Noir $63
This wine is from the Red Hill vineyard which the Onannon boys manage with the help of their trusty vineyard worker, Martin. The vines are 24 years old now. It’s a warm site, sitting at 90m with a northern exposure. In 2018 Onannon used only the MV6 clone. Half of the block was destemmed, the other half fermented as 100% whole bunches. The components were pressed separately after three weeks on skins. After 12 months in barrel, Will, Kaspar and Sam selected the barrels they felt worked best together, resulting in a blend that is 50% whole bunches and 25% new oak. After two months integrating in tank, the wine was lightly filtered and bottled in August 2019.
Attractive, earthy beetroot note from whole bunches with pot pourri, raspberry, cherry and bitter orange. The stems work well as seasoning on the super-silky red-fruited palate. Nice, toothsome core and a savoury, moreish finish.
Forgive me for putting it this way but I’d describe this as a ‘true Pinot’. It has a sense of in-built complexity that is outside of the norm. It’s like rhubarb and raspberry, beet and strawberry rolled through leaves and spice, but presented as a seamless whole. It has a gentle firmness to the tannin, an undergrowth aspect. It’s complex already but it has the future at its feet.94 points. Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front