Ondenc is largely an unknown grape variety from an Australian perspective, yet it remains an avatar of both French tradition and early Australian viticulture. Indeed, the experimental field plantings at Best's of Great Western in Victoria, have a small amount of Ondenc planted amidst the more noble cultivars. These constitute some of Australia's oldest vines.
Ondenc is a white wine grape variety that produces moderately alcoholic wines with subtle aromas of citrus, melon and hay. It is largely blended if used at all, and is increasingly as much a curiosity in south-western France where it has long been a backbone of viticultural heritage, as it is elsewhere. No longer fashionable, it is nevertheless permitted in Bordeaux, Bergerac, Montravel, the Côtes-de-Duras and Gaillac.
Robert Plageoles, one of Gaillac's finest producers, is on a mission to revive the indigenous grape varieties of France's south-west, including Ondenc. Plageoles makes a rare Gaillac Doux from a straight varietal expression that is late harvested and/or botrytized. Most intriguingly, above his small tasting room's awning sits a bottle of Best's Ondenc, indicating the relationship between the two wine cultures.
In Australia Ondenc has also gone by the far less romantic names of 'Blanc Select', 'Irvine's White' and the utter misnomer, 'Sercial'. Once grown in Portugal and California also, it has all but been replaced by more commercially viable grape varieties.