Tasmania has once again taken out the top gong at the Australian Pinot Noir Challenge. On Thursday evening Meadowbank Wines – from Southern Tasmania – was announced as the 2023 Challenge winner for its 2022 Meadowbank Pinot Noir.
"We’re still in a bit of shock, but also bloody chuffed! We’ve felt all the emotions – we’re humbled, grateful and of course super excited – it’s been an exhilarating ride," says Mardi Ellis. "For Meadowbank and our pinot noir to be recognised in this fabulous way is a nod to Gerald’s farming intuition, Pete’s deft winemaking talents, and our family’s ongoing stewardship and respect for this magical place."
At the helm of the Meadowbank team is Gerald Ellis – a sheep farmer turned Tasmanian vigneron. Gerald has been growing and nurturing the Meadowbank Vineyard since its inception in 1976. Winemaker Peter (or Pete) Dredge has been formally working with the vineyard since 2010. In 2015 he became a Meadowbank partner and now works more casually "sometimes in drag, sometimes no clothes at all." Mardi Ellis, who has lived and breathed Meadowbank her whole life and is now the custodian of Meadowbank for future generations, rounds out the team.
Peter Dredge, Gerald Ellis and Mardi Ellis.
When it comes to the pinot noir – which is sourced from vines planted in 1987 – the winemaking is a hands off approach. "We embrace a natural ferment using the Pied de Cuve technique, cultivating wild yeast from vineyard samples in the lead up to harvest time," says Pete.
The vineyard sits high in the Derwent Valley, between the Derwent River and the foothills of Mount Field National Park. "We pick some grapes early for freshness, and some later for more robust flavour. We also hand select specific bunches to include for whole cluster fermentation. Development of flavour varies from vintage to vintage, so our approach to picking varies too. Flavour is key," says Pete.
"Following fermentation, we’re diligent with topping our barriques, whilst closely monitoring the time spent on lees and its impact. We employ judicious additions of preservative over the pinot’s nine months in barrel, based on how the wine is developing. The wine matures in a very small amount of new French oak, but has no synthetic acids, copper or proteinaceous fining agents added to polish or ameliorate the vintage and the unique wine it presents. Pretty much a manicured 'warts and all' approach."
Gerald Ellis originally purchased Meadowbank as a sheep grazing property in 1976.
The Australian Pinot Noir Challenge, which is in its sixth year, saw a 16 per cent increase on 2022, with 290 wines across 65 wineries entering the competition. Each wine underwent rigorous judging by a panel of pinot experts, and for the second year running, the panel was chaired by Curly Flat's Matt Harrop.
Along with Matt Harrop, the esteemed panel included: Tom Wallace (Brown Family Wine Group), Samantha Connew (Stargazer), Loic le Calvez (Domaine Chandon), Marcus Satchell (Dirty Three Wines), Tim Perrin (Port Phillip Estate), and Gabrielle Poy from Prince Wine Store.
So, what's next for Meadowbank?
"We’ve just finished building an incredible mountain bike park on the property so that guests can experience the hidden delights of Meadowbank in an entirely new way. In the absence of a conventional cellar door, we’ve also increased our event offerings and host regular long lunch experiences at the vineyard and homestead. The vineyard itself is also expanding, with 14 hectares of new vines (and a new variety!) about to be planted. And after many requests, we finally got ourselves organised and launched a wine club – The Defiance.
"In amongst it all, we will continue to respect and care for this wonderful place that we’re so lucky to call home, always learning and evolving along the way. We love what we do and have a lot of fun doing it!" says Mardi.
2022 Meadowbank Pinot NoirBrisk and ethereal, with a hit of acidic freshness, this wine sings of Meadowbank with its trademark green strawberry smell and its deep and vibrant colour. Our pinot noir is such a versatile wine, one you can easily pair with a variety of foods, or one you can sip and savour all on its own...or all to yourself.
Meadowbank's suggested food pairing: Venison backstrap with potatoes and Jerusaleum artichokes.
RRP $60 | Shop this wine