Ocean Eight
Exploring Australia's premier Pinot Noir region, part 4

aylward ocean eight
Mike Aylward

The Aylward family previously owned Kooyong, and after selling in 2003 their son Michael went into business with his folks to begin a new venture: Ocean Eight. They have two sites. The first is the home vineyard in Shoreham/Red Hill, which consists of 7 acres of Pinot Gris and an acre of Chardonnay on red clay soils. The second is close to Dromana and Yabby Lake, and is a warmer site on sandier soils, with 27 acres of vines, of which 14 are Pinot.

ocean eight

I visited with Mike Aylward, whose job description is GM and winemaker, and he's clearly a thoughtful, skilled vigneron. 'On all the wines I'm making I'm after elegance,' says Mike. 'I don’t want big powerful wines.' All the wines are wild ferment, and he makes unusually elegant Pinots. 'Our style for the Pinot is unique here,' he says.

pinot noir

Production is now at around 7000 cases. 'We are 12 years in,' says Mike. 'We have grown into our vineyard, and we are selling out.’

He's a fan of Mornington Pinot Gris. 'With Mornington Pinot Gris you get some richness, like in Alsace, but then it is the acidity that is driving it through.'

Whites are whole bunch pressed to older barrels without settling. Generally, malolactic is discouraged.

ocean eight

Mike says that the yields from these vineyards are around 2 tons/acre, and they cost 10 k/acre to run. But it's possible to buy really good quality fruit for 3k ton. This means it's actually much cheaper to buy the fruit and not do the work. But this isn't the path he's chosen.


Ocean Eight Pinot Gris 2016 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Nice complexity on the nose with some grape, honey and spice on the nose. Nice acidity here brings vitality to the ripe apple, grape and pear palate. Lovely juicy tangerine and melon finish. Nice depth here. 91/100 (02/17)

Ocean Eight Pinot Gris 2015 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Very textural and fine with subtle herby notes. Fine and expressive with a mineral edge. This is not about fruit, but rather texture. 92/100 (05/16)

Ocean Eight Verve Chardonnay 2015 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Subtle and refined with nice mealy, bready undertones to the citrus fruit. Hints of tangerine, too. Lively with some lemony detail. Nice balance here: there's acidity but also a delicacy, and it's really harmonious. 93/100 (02/17)

Ocean Eight Verve Chardonnay 2013 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Lovely linear style with real focus and nice stony savouriness. Elegant and textural with an acidic core. Complex, though: not just lemon juice. Rounded with a slightly nutty edge. 94/100 (05/16)

Ocean Eight Grande Chardonnay 2014 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Complex, refined nuts and wax on the nose, as well as citrus and pear fruit. Superbly elegant and textured on the palate: this is about subtlety and nuance, not power. Tangerine and hazelnut detail, but the focus is on the rounded citrus fruits. Balanced. 94/100 (02/17)

Ocean Eight Rose 2016 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Pinot Noir taken off straight away after destemming (saignee). Delicate in colour and flavour, this has nice sweet cherry fruit with some pear notes, too. There's a bit of grape character. Soft and easy but not sweet. Wild ferment in barrels. 89/100 (02/17)

Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2015 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Warm site for the peninsula, and I'm trying to make an elegant pinot off a warm site. Really like the 114 clone. MV6 gives a lot of weight and tannin. Very fine nose with amazing aromatics: red cherries, leafy notes, some green tea. Beguiling. Fresh red cherries on the palate with amazing purity and elegance. Delicate with fine tannins and a hint of bitter cherry on the finish. Such a lovely, delicate wine with amazing finesse. So transparent. 96/100 (02/17)

Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2013 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Beautifully floral, expressive aromatic nose of tea leaves and sweet red cherries. Fresh, elegant, spicy palate with fine-grained tannins and subtle herbiness. Some black tea and good structure. 94/100 (05/16)

Ocean Eight Aylward by Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2015 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Pale in colour with a beautifully refined nose. This has incredible elegance allied with concentration on the palate. There's substance here, with lots of layers of fruit, and some refined, spicy tannins. Has a tomato, umami, grainy personality. So more-ish and thought provoking, this is subtle but profound. 97/100 (02/17)

Ocean Eight Aylward by Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2012 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Quite structured with good acidity and lovely density. Very fresh with firm structure and vibrant raspberry and cherry fruit. Serious stuff. 95/100 (05/16)


1 Introduction
2 Paringa Estate
3 Montalto
4 Ocean Eight
5 Kooyong
6 Ten Minutes By Tractor
7 Stonier
8 Willow Creek
9 Crittenden Estate
10 Yabby Lake
11 Quealy
12 Mooroduc
13 Eldridge Estate of Red Hill 

See also:

The wines of Jamsheed

Wines tasted 02/17  and 05/16 as indicated
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