Three’s the magic number at Onannon. Of course, this is the number of friends that make up this enterprise, and now we have a third single-site wine added to the top of the Onannon tree.
Will Byron, Kaspar Hermann and Sam Middleton released their first single-site Pinot Noir wines from the 2016 vintage. Named Leongatha and Red Hill, they show off an excellent pair of vineyards in, respectively, Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula. In this offer we bring you the third incarnation of these, from 2018.
The new wine joining those is also from the Mornington Peninsula, this time from a vineyard in Tuerong. It’s a Chardonnay. Those following this venture and the sublime groove it’s got itself into, will know that the boys have a way with both the Burgundy varieties. The Chardonnay is always super stylish – not the kind of tricked up thing that demands you sit back and admire it. It’s the kind you just want to dive into and let the complexities wash over you. This one is shows classy oak, inviting fruit, spice and zip – a step up in definition from the regional rendition.
The Leongatha Pinot Noir has marked itself for its clarity, grace and poise. The 2018 builds on that profile, with smoke, rose petals and bright fruit set on silky, escalating tannins. And then the Red Hill, which also shows great clarity in the context of its bunch influence. The stems sprinkle seasoning on raspberry, cherry and bitter orange, with exceptional silkiness again.
As befits such a classy trio of gentlemen, here’s one classy trio of single-site wines.
From a vineyard in Shoreham, made like Chardonnay – barrel ferment and lees stirring early in the piece. Honey, pear and cream. Bit of sweet stone fruit up front. Ginger. Density and nuttiness, savoury finish. – Ed Merrison, CellarHand
95, 96 clone Chardonnay from two vineyards, one in Red Hill and one in Tuerong. Barrel ferment, lees stirred. 20% MLF. 15% new French oak. 10 months in the barrel. Sam, Kaspar and Will pick the fruit “on the up-curve” (i.e. crux of flavour and freshness) – bearing in mind the warmer side of the Mornington Peninsula is part of the equation here. Good flesh here though; medium-bodied, good weight and sweep of acidity with a crispness to the finish. – Ed Merrison, CellarHand
It’s fresh and brisk, a little bit fruity and creamy, but fine-boned too. Some flint and funk, almond and preserved lemon, good energy and cut, lemon rind and crunch on a pretty long finish. It’ll be better again in a couple of months, like all of us. 94 points.Gary Walsh, The Wine Front March 2020
RED – REGIONAL
From three vineyards: Onannon’s original Red Hill site (23-year-old vines, MV6, 777) and a site in Shoreham (19-year-old vines, MV6) and a site in Merricks North (20 years old, MV6). About 5% new oak. 10% whole bunches. All the 777 and some of the MV6 clone from the Red Hill site used as the whole bunch portion. One week post-ferment maceration. Perfumed, bright nose with cherries and stone fruits. Nice, juicy core with a sense of roundness. Orange peel note and some chew to the tannins, which carry the fruit well. – Ed Merrison, CellarHand
All old barrels. 20% whole bunches, of which 2% is Viognier. The white grape is about 5% of the blend, which lends a beautiful vibrance to the colour. Elegant, transparent, some spice. Immediacy to its impeccable fruit; very pretty tannins. Nice mouth perfume. Stone fruit feel. Cherry-stone tang to the finish. – Ed Merrison, CellarHand
It’s very purple, to taste and to view. Cherry, spice, grilled meat and perfume. It’s sort of like a bigger Shiraz-based Beaujolais in intent, I’d say, and fits the bill in that respect very well. A bit savoury, a bit berry stone fruit juicy, light chalky tannin, peppery and fragrant on a crisp and pleasantly meaty/herbal/pulpy fruit finish. Tasty. Nicely done. 92 points.Gary Walsh, The Wine Front February 2020
WHITE – SINGLE VINEYARD
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.
Pronounced nose with very classy oak, nutmeg spice, white flowers and sweet, inviting fruit. Fleshy nectarine and grapefruit cinched in by crystalline acidity. 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 May 2020
RED – SINGLE VINEYARD
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.
Gippsland light and shade. Very red-fruited wild-berry prettiness and flowers but earthy, too. Smoke, roses and leatherwood honey. Translucent fruit again – something very candid always about this wine – and seemingly light frame yet very athletic structure. Streamlined, toned acid and tannin with subtle authority, but a stamp. Light and shade of aroma, taste and presence.
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 June 2020
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 May 2020
ALSO AVAILABLE, IN LIMITED QUANTITIES…
Delicious, juicy, fresh Pinot Noir of sweet cherry scents and flavours, vitality, slippery-silky texture and general sense of enjoyment at the ready. Not a lot of detail, good light tannin profile, vivacity is en pointe. Simple done well. 92 points.Mike Bennie, The Wine Front April 2019
Savoury detail is good in this wine, char and earth, brambles and sour cherry, pepper and clove. Lots of character and detail in drinking. Fine swish of tannins a feature, as is the amaro-like tang to acidity. Like this. Kinda funky, kinda neat, very drinkable. 93 points.Mike Bennie, The Wine Front April 2019