New single vineyard beauties from the Onannon trio now available
Can you have unassuming rock stars? Certainly, in the local wine scene, the three winemakers behind Onannon fit the definition of ‘rock stars’. You’ve got Will Byron (‘ON’), formally long-time winemaker at Stonier and a nominee for Gourmet Traveller WINE ‘Winemaker of the Year”. Then there is Kasper Hermann (‘ANN’) who has been responsible for the trajectory of Toolangi and Rochford over recent vintages. Finally, Sam Middleton (‘ON’) who carries the family torch in charge of one of Australia’s true ‘first growths’ – Mount Mary.
Onannon, though, is where they get to play. And here, texture is the holy grail. The whites are always barrel-fermented, with full malo and sulphur is kept to a minimum and always only at bottling. Whole fruit is utilised as much as possible in the red, as is extended time on skins.
And, what of single-site wines? Few know the Mornington Peninsula like Will Byron does. And, as the major ‘running point’ on the project over recent times, it has meant access to many and varied sites spanning the whole of the region – from the sands of Tuerong to the altitudes of Main Ridge, the full potential of the region can be explored at Onannon.
The bedrocks remain as they always have; a flinty, high-octane Chardonnay from a site in Tuerong and a 100% whole-bunch Red Hill Pinot Noir from Harrison’s Road where the boys started this journey more than a decade ago. And they’re not stopping there – expect to see more sites explored in the future.
The Vintage : Pretty good, apparently. When asking the guys their thoughts, it was short and sweet – “Great growing season, wet winter and a mild Spring with an Indian summer. Text book! Great natural acid and delicate pure fruit.”
2021 Onannon ‘Tuerong’ Chardonnay $40.85 LUC
– Planted between 1988 and 1994 on lower slopes.
– The soil is a duplex clay loam and is plated to Chardonnay clones of p58 and i10V1.
– The vineyard is split into three blocks which all ripen at slightly different times, usually leading to a ten day picking window.
When it comes to Chardonnay, for these unassuming rockstars, flavour is king. They are looking for fruit in the grapefruit/pear spectrum when picking. Always pressed straight to barrel/puncheon, no added acid, loads of lees contact and 100% MLF. They boys never fine and phenolics is ok by them.
“We are looking for ripe fruit in the grapefruit/pear spectrum when picking – always by hand. The fruit was pressed after being cooled in fridge overnight, allowed to oxidise (no SO2), and into barrel for fermantation.
Post primary ferment we allowed the wine to go through 100% malaolactic fermentation and stirred occasionaly during maturation. 33% New French oak for about 10 months. No fining.” – Will Byron, Onannon
“Trademark Onannon/Tuerong flint and cashew is what you notice first on the nose, but look further and you’ll find white florals, seaspray/seaweed and a minerality you expect more with a wine from chalky soil. More of those oceanic characters are apparent on the edges of the palate, whilst the middle is dominated by pithy grapefruit. Crunchy, spiced tinged acid pushes the wine out into some very impressive length” – Mark Williamson & Sam Hooper, CellarHand
2021 Onannon ‘Red Hill’ Pinot Noir $43 LUC
– North facing slope on the Dromana side of Red Hill, overlooking Port Phillip Bay
– 70 metres above sea level.
– Clay loam soils, never irrigated and naturally low yielding.
– Planted to Pinot Noir clones 777 and MV6 in the early 1990s.
The Pinot Noir brief at Onannon is generally lots of whole bunches and extended maceration (6 – 8 weeks on skins is typical). And, in order to get the brightest fruit from Carbonic Maceration, foot stomping and pump overs. They always favour using very savoury French Oak,. Tannin is good. No fining
“Our thirteenth vintage working with our Harrison’s Road Vineyard. The vineyard is planted to a combinations of MV6 and 777. As in most years, 100 whole bunch fermentation, started naturally. Left on skins for a total of five weeks, trying to be as gentle as possible (foot stomping initially then some pump overs). 50% new french oak for ten months. Bottled with only a light filtration” – Will Byron, Onannon
“A wine where the stems have absolutely added a positive edge. There is nothing green here. There’s that WBF on the nose, plus high note cherries and low note autumnal leaves and earth. Super aromatic wine. Talcy fine tannins coat the mouth, while the dark red fruit follows a flowing mouthfeel – again, a positive whole bunch outcome with fine natural acidity” – Mark Williamson & Sam Hooper, CellarHand