Our first trip to the Mornington was an excercise in tasting very light coloured reds and frisky, early picked whites. So much so, that I wasn’t sure (still not sure), if it was the nature of the place or the wine producers. Crunchy red fruits and green apple flavours are all very well, but we found the styles shrill, limiting and lacking in warmth. Times have changed, and producers such as Onannon and Polperro are coaxing the fullest expressions possible from their vineyards and grapes.
The 2021 wines
Vivid, bright flavours, round in shape, fruit dominant, rich and ripe tannins and deep, driven acidity – certainly the best release yet from Onannon. Considering the times, the prices are very reasonable too – affordable luxury. There are no wild stylistic statements that push the fruit in the wrong directions of texture, or flavour. Poised and confident, with an uncanny knack for understanding the quality and characteristics of the fruit and the wine to be made.
It’s lovely to see wines from such cool, windswept vineyards with dark colours and powerful fruit profiles, the ‘coolness’ of the vineyards an element, but not an end in itself. Many wine producers look to emphasise features of their sites, mistakenly believing that the vineyard expression of a warm, cool, rocky, windy, seaside, or whatever uniqueness is somehow more important than the wine in the glass. Beautiful wine is all about perfectly pristine, ripe fruit and a great producer will always make the best of what they have. Onannon just gets better and better.
You can never be to sure what you are going to get when the label says Pinot Gris. Onannon’s is a masterclass of the varietal, playing to its strengths of aromatics, spice, exoticism and textural complexity. Aromas of honeysuckle, jasmine, pear, citrus and sage. Supple palate, round in shape, cut through with dustings of spice. The fruit’s sweet, but the wine is dry and the light textural touch is delightful and in no way ‘skinsy’. Beautiful, alluring Pinot Gris, for sitting in a garden, imaging Elizabeth Von Arnim.
Australian Chardonnay at its best – flavoursome, toothsome and excellent value. Full bodied, round in shape, with cream, cashew, grapefruit, white peach, jasmine and green apple. So much amplitude, covering the mouth, and squeezing its way into every part of the palate. Chiselled fresh, tight, coiled and chewy. Flavour abounds.
Full bodied opulence, but there’s no mistaking the thrust of citric acidity, pulling it all together. Yellow peach, grapefruit, sunflowers, burnt butter, orange blossom, melon and oak spice. Very intense and powerful, a real mouthful; dense, deep and chewy. Structural, with all the elements woven nicely, pulled tight at the seams by some delightful oak. Complete chardonnay, impossible to fault and so easy to love.
Such a change from the light, sour red fruit numbers so prevalent in the Mornington ten years ago. Alluring aromatics of rhubarb, plum, blueberry, cola and sarsaparilla. Round, vibrant and vivid, sweet and tangy red fruits, some earthy notes, sap and cut flowers. Intense, the flavours are super bright, rich melting tannins and there is so much power and weight that you wouldn’t normally expect at this price point. Very long carry suggesting a very long life ahead.
A more ethereal style, a departure from the assertive presence of the Mornington pinots. Spicy, herbal and sappy, with red fruits of plums, cranberry, cherry and redcurrant. Mouth filling and silky feel, subtle wood spice, Serrano and autumnal notes and soft velvety tannins. Discreet, and yet with a great volume of flavour. Light and shade, with an iron fist. Fascinating.
Always the most ambitious wine of the range, just starting to loosen its corset of tight, slinky tannins. The whole bunch spice and sap is still very present, but starting to morph and integrate. Medium to full bodied, with kirsch, cassis, cherry, raspberry and strawberry. Very complex tertiary notes of smoke, camphor, sandalwood, lavender, mushroom and pink peppercorn. Ravishing tannins, rich ripe and melting, a real feature here, grape and wood tannin fused. Compelling stuff, with an immense future. I think a couple of decades, no problem.
Terrific expression of contemporary shiraz, our favourite for a very long time. Intense aromatics of blackberry, mulberry, blueberry, cassis, cut flowers, sage and tobacco. Dense and almost full bodied, with real attack and thrust. Waves of fruit, with lashings of sarsaparilla, ripe and silky tannins. The silk gives way to a chewier squeeze, firming up the palate for a very long carry. Opens up a great deal with time in the glass. Absolute bargain this.