Onannon Again: New Releases For Winter 2018

“So lovely. You’d be mad not to.” That was how Gary Walsh of The Wine Front concluded his note on the ’16 Chardonnay, and it kind of sums up the ease with which you can settle into the wines made by Sam Middleton, Kaspar Hermann and Will Byron at Onannon.
2016 was the harvest from which the chaps added a top tier to the range with a Pinot each from Leongatha and Red Hill. So with a few vintage rolls, the reels have spun into place and we’ve hit the jackpot with a fresh, exciting and complete offering from Onannon. Class everywhere you look.

2017 Onannon Pinot Gris RRP $32
Handpicked from Onannon’s vineyard in Red Hill. Pressed immediately and given a few hours hang time before a final squeeze to get some grip. Settled overnight. The juice is racked straight to old barrels with some solids. A combination of wild and inoculated yeasts are used. Once ferment has finished, the lees are stirred a few times before sulphur is added to prevent MLF. It’s then basically left alone until filtration and bottling.
The 2017 has more volume in all aspects than the previous releases. A tint of bronze from some skin contact. Quince and pear on the nose, lots of spice too: musk and lavender. The palate really attacks; it’s a mouthful of flavour: lychee, mirabelle plum and camomile. It seems a little denser, but has good tension too. – Will Byron, Onannon

2017 Onannon Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay RRP $39
100% 95 clone Chardonnay from a single site in Tuerong. Fruit is crushed into the press. After pressing it’s settled overnight and then racked to barrel. We played around with different levels of solids. A combination of yeasts were used to help build some complexity. No MLF. 20% new French oak, 10 months in barrel. The nose is smoky with grilled hazelnut, nectarine, ghee. Very tight, clean attack, a pure soda/mineral mid-palate. It’s more delicate than ’16 with better oak integration, and finishes with clean, chewy savouriness. – Will Byron, Onannon

This is smoking Chardonnay, and a little smoky with it too. The struck match, almond, nectarine and citrus leads the way, then into a palate that’s singing in clear voice. Flinty, bright, juicy, almond and stuck match – finesse and power – crunch of green pear and grapefruit to close. Oak lends some spice and structural scaffolding, but feels a minor player. Magnificent. It’s one of those “Am I 95 or 96 points here?” wines, and while I used to be indecisive, I still don’t much like putting numbers on bottles. 96 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front July 2018

2017 Onannon Rosé RRP $28
50/50 Cabernet and Merlot. Handpicked and pressed immediately. The juice is settled and fined lightly to remove some tannin and colour. The juice is racked cleanly and split between barrel and tank for fermentation. Clean, quick ferments follow. Once fermented the wine is sulphured to prevent MLF, and then matured for a few months until filtration and bottling.
The 2017 has slightly more colour than the 2016. It shows a little more candied fruit one the nose, but has cherries and rhubarb on the palate. The finish is dry and clean. Savoury is the mission statement. – Will Byron, Onannon

2018 Onannon ‘The Level’ RRP $32
Skin-contact Pinot Gris from the Mornington Peninsula made with absolutely no additions, including sulphur. 100% whole-berry ferment in an open-top tank, then finished on old oak.

2016 Onannon Gippsland Pinot Noir RRP $43
This is a blend of two vineyards, one from South Gippsland the other from East Gippsland. 100% destemmed, 15% new French oak.
Beetroot leaf, Cunliffe & Waters Christmas cherries, shiitake mushroom with a whiff of petrichor. Delicate entry, sour red fruits, some pomegranate and Asian spices. Builds some sweeter red fruits and then finishes with a savoury grip. – Will Byron, Onannon

2016 Onannon Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir RRP $39
This wine is a blend of three vineyards: our original Red Hill site (23-year-old vines, MV6 and 777 clones), plus a site in Shoreham (19-year-old vines, MV6) and a site in Merricks North (20-year-old, MV6). All fruit was handpicked and then transported back to the winery where it sat in a cool room overnight. We used all the 777 and some of the MV6 clone from our Red Hill site as the whole-bunch portion. The whole bunch barrels are not blended until we assess the possibility of a standalone wine, which we did for the first time in 2016. All the remaining fruit was de-stemmed and cool-soaked for 4-5 days until spontaneous fermentation took place. The primary fermentation took between 5 and 8 days, after which both ferments had one week post-fermentation maceration. Natural malolactic conversion finished within 12 weeks, after which time the wine was racked and sulphured. We bottled the wine in late December. – Will Byron, Onannon

Flint, graphite, red cherry, rosehip. Soft and generous to taste, quite ripe and fleshy, sweet fruit, sweet finish. Lots to like in ease of drinking and plush, soft spoonful of fruit. 91 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front February 2017

2016 Onannon Single Site Leongatha Pinot Noir RRP $62
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.

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 $62
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

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 2016