Winemaker Peter Dredge is known for his ballistically good pinot noirs that travel the north, south and east of the fine state of Tasmania. Then he made some chardonnay and wowed us again. Then he released a riesling, darn good, a pet nat under his Dr Ongo label, outstanding, so we’re stoked to see him flex a bit with this fresh as range of alt-styles using lesser-sung varieties, considered but out of the box winemaking techniques and some judicious blending to create wines of originality and great interest. Yeehaw!
The wines are wildly delicious, compelling, complex but ultra-refreshing. Gold is the obscure chardonnay variant called ‘chardonnay musque’ which see some skin fermentation, time on lees and a splash of normal chardonnay in the mix to lend more detail. It’s a compelling white of chewy texture, starburst of minerally acidity and a general sense of high drinkability. Amber is made from the under-the-radar grape variety schonburger. It’s fermented on skins, a bit of pinot gris goes in the ferment for depth and colour, the resulting wine is chalky, puckering, wild-edged but pretty in fragrance and fruit character. Exciting stuff.
A red wine is made, but it’s sort of not red. Rouge is a blend of two parts pinot gris and one part pinot meunier, lightly fermented on skins for six days and pressed off to make a bolder rose or a very light red – choose your own adventure. It’s crisp, red fruited, spicy, herbal, tangy and super thirst-quenching. We love it chilled, but you do you and decide how this lush, crunchy thing hits your glass.
The famed Dr Ongo Pet Nat is one of Australia’s best examples of the style. It’s bright, it’s tight with bubbles, it’s wildly slurpable and has this thirst-quenching thing going on. It’s pinot noir, mostly, though riesling perks things up a bit. It hits the glass all pretty and purple-pink and delivers a pet nat with watermelon juice, guava and citrus characters with licks of nutty-savoury funk. Clean, fresh, unreal.