Onannon turned 10 vintages old during the 2017 harvest, and it’s fitting that they’ve marked this milestone with a pair of bold single-site releases that are a statement of intent and a signal of class. James Halliday knows Will Byron, Kaspar Hermann & Sam Middleton well, not least thanks to the time these three close friends spent at Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley. Halliday once commented: “You would have to go a long way to find three more open-hearted and utterly committed winemakers; the world is their oyster, their ambitions unlimited.” Indeed – and their time has come.
2015 Onannon Gippsland Chardonnay RRP $43
This is the third year the Onannon trio have worked with Bill Williams and the team at Tambo Estate. They took the I10 clone from 20-year-old vines, which Bill painstakingly sorted. The fruit was placed straight into a cool room as it was being picked and trucked back in the cool of the night to be processed straight away. Sam, Kaspar and Will crushed the clusters and threw a little whole bunch into the press, settled the juice overnight and then racked it to barrel. They played around with different levels of solids. A combination of yeasts were used to help build some complexity. No MLF. 20% new French oak. Ten months in the barrel.
A stylish chardonnay with the abundant flavour East Gippsland can provide, protected in this instance by the exclusion of mlf. As it is, the flavour spectrum is firmly stone fruit/melon/fig, acidity the key in keeping the fruit under control, and simultaneously providing length. 95 points. James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion March 2016
2016 Onannon Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay RRP $39
Fruit from a single vineyard in Tuerong from 95 clone. Grapes are 80% crushed and 20% whole-bunch pressed to settle in tank. Then racked to barrique with solids for the ferment. A blend of wild and inoculated batches for complexity. No MLF. Gross lees matured till filtered after 11 months. 20% new oak. Savoury oak is key, hence the specific cooperage exclusively used. – Will Byron, Onannon
There’s flavour, texture and length jam-packed into this. The oak adding spice, depth and some structure, a mere component though, the stone fruit is laced with citrussy notes and spice. Nothing else to add. Just drink it. 95 points. Halliday Wine Companion 2018
2015 Onannon Gippsland Pinot Noir RRP $43
This is a blend of two vineyards, one from south Gippsland and the other from east Gippsland. The majority of the blend (70% of the wine; 18-year-old vines) is sourced from respected grower and winemaker John Ellis, in Berrys Creek, South Gippsland. This high-density vineyard is planted to numerous clones of Pinot Noir. In 2015 the team used predominately 114, 115 and MV6 clones. The other vineyard (17 years old, MV6) is Lightfoot & Sons in East Gippsland.
The fruit from both vineyards is 100% destemmed into separate fermenters with minimal SO2. The fruit was cold soaked for six days days, after which fermentation began. Primary fermentation took eight days with temperatures reaching 34 degrees. The wine was immediately pressed and settled overnight before being racked to barrels to sit on gross lees. The wine was racked prior to bottling in late December. Unfined and unfiltered.
From two vineyards, 6 days cold soak, open-fermented, matured in French oak. The light, but bright, colour gives no hint of the intensity and length of the savoury/foresty base to the red fruits of the long, finely structured palate. A wine of considerable finesse. 95 points. James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2017
2015 Onannon Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir RRP $39
A blend of two vineyards. Onannon’s original Red Hill site (23-year-old vines; MV6, 777) and a site in Shoreham (18-year-old vines; MV6). The fruit from both sites was handpicked and then transported back to the winery where it sat in a cool room overnight. The team used the 777 clone as the whole bunch portion (15%) and fermented that separately as a 100% whole bunch ferment to be blended back later. The must soaked for 4-5 days until indigenous fermentation took place. The primary fermentation took between 5-8 days after which both ferments had one week post-ferment maceration. Natural MLF finished within 10 weeks, after which the wine was racked and sulphured. Onannon bottled the wine in late December. Unfined and unfiltered.
Good colour; has the power, line and length of its sibling, and adds a dimension from its plummy fruit. This has all the requisites for a 10+-year future. 96 points. James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2017
2016 Onannon Single Site Leongatha Pinot Noir RRP $71
The vineyard is close planted, dry grown and the Onannon boys use the D5V12, 777 and MV6 clones. Fruit 100% destemmed into separate fermenters with minimal SO2, then cold soaked for six days before fermentation kicks off. Primary fermentation took eight days with temperatures reaching 34 degrees. The wine was kept on skins for an extra two weeks to build and complex the tannins. Once pressed, it was settled overnight before being racked to barrels to sit on gross lees. Racked again prior to bottling late December.
As with its sibling, no information other than 50 dozen made and the single vineyard is somewhere in Leongatha. It’s a shimmering bright garnet with a purple hue, a core of beautiful ripe fruit, subtle with fine tannins, refreshing acidity and a savoury overlay that keeps this in the moreish spectrum. 96 points. Halliday Wine Companion 2018
2016 Onannon Single Site Red Hill Pinot Noir RRP $71
This wine is from the Red Hill vineyard which we manage with the help of our trusty vineyard worker, Martin. The vines are 23 years old now. It’s a warm site, sitting at 90m with a northern exposure. The fruit is handpicked and the portions that made this wine were 100% whole bunch fermented. We used both the clones that the vineyard is planted to: MV6 and 777. We use small one-tonne fermenters and after tipping the fruit carefully in, we wrap them up so no air can get in and no CO2 can escape. After 2 weeks we will open the fermenter to check the ferment and if need be give a very light foot stomp. We kept this wine on skins for four weeks after which it was pressed and a portion sent to barrel for a barrel ferment. The remaining wine is sent to barrel once dry. Natural MLF finished within 10 weeks, after which time the wine was racked and sulphured. We bottled the wine in late December. –Will Byron, Onannon
No details proffered other than 50 dozen made. It’s exquisitely tuned with a core of tangy-tart cherry fruit, judicious use of whole-bunches and oak, really earthy all damp autumn leaves and wood spices. Sapid with shapely, raw silk tannins and satisfying with a denser structure compared with the Gippsland single vineyard wine. 96 points. Halliday Wine Companion 2018