L-R: Alexander Deane, Mardi Ellis, Ella Nicolson and Peter Dredge.

At a gala dinner at Melbourne’s Cutler & Co on Thursday 5 October, Tasmania won the Pinot Noir challenge for the fourth time in the award’s six-year history.

The top three wines included Pinot Noirs from the Yarra Valley and Adelaide Hills, but it was the 2022 Meadowbank Pinot Noir made by winemaker Peter Dredge that took out the top spot. The judging panel, chaired by Matt Harrop of Curly Flat Vineyard, spent several hours deliberating over their choices.

Located in the Derwent Valley, Meadowbank is owned by the Ellis family, with Gerald Ellis planting vines on his property in 1976. Today, father and daughter duo Gerald and Mardi manage the vineyard. The warm days and cool nights at Meadowbank have proven to be ideal for Pinot Noir.

“What an honour and what an exhilarating ride. We feel extremely humbled and excited to receive this award. When Dad first started Meadowbank almost 50 years ago, he was told you couldn’t grow grapes in the cold wilderness of Tasmania.

“For our Pinot Noir to be recognised in this fabulous way is a nod to Gerald’s intuitive defiance, Pete’s deft winemaking and our family’s ongoing stewardship and respect for this magical place,” Mardi exclaimed.

Dredge has headed the winemaking since 2015 and has worked with the vineyard since 2010. In 2017 he was awarded the People’s Choice award at the Young Gun of Wine Awards and in 2020 he was a top eight finalist for Gourmet Traveller Wine Winemaker of the year.

“It has been such a pleasure to work with this beautiful vineyard for 13 years now. Since becoming a partner with Meadowbank, our soul focus has been reinvigorating the single vineyard releases by homing in on the strengths and weaknesses of the vineyard which is abound with climatic challenges. It feels like the work and dedication may finally be coming to fruition,” Dredge commented.

Lindsay McCall, Chair of the Australian Pinot Noir Challenge was delighted to see such strong representation across 18 premium Pinot Noir producing regions. Entries grew by nearly 20 per cent compared to last year, evidencing the show’s growing popularity.

“Australia is universally recognised as a premium Pinot Noir producing country. Our competitive edge is the outstanding quality of Pinot produced in so many cool climate region,” McCall said.

“The Australian Pinot Noir Challenge celebrates the incredible wines from all regions and the ethereal nature of this complex and captivating variety that has become the worlds most exclusive and expensive wine,” he concluded.

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