Tasmania wins its fourth consecutive Pinot Noir Challenge

Peter Dredge, Gerald Ellis and Mardi Ellis. Image courtesy Australian Pinot Noir Challenge

Which Australian wine region makes the best Pinot Noir? This is the question the annual Pinot Noir Challenge aims to uncover. Is it Mornington Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley, Tasmania, Macedon Ranges, Great Southern…?

At a gala dinner at Cutler & Co in Melbourne last night, Tasmania was announced as the winner with its 2022 Meadowbank Pinot Noir made by Peter Dredge, marking the fourth win for Tasmania in the shows six-year history. After the top three wines were decided, it was a battle for top spot with Yarra Valley and Adelaide Hills also in contention. Many hours of deliberation ensued, with the judging panel, chaired by Matt Harrop of Curly Flat Vineyard, agreeing that the Tasmanian entrant deserved the trophy.

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

Mardi Ellis was elated with the win.

“What an honour and what an exhilarating ride! We feel extremely humbled and excited to receive this award,” said Ellis.

“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.”

Peter Dredge has been at the winemaking helm at Meadowbank since 2015 and has worked closely 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 8 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,” said Dredge.

“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. We would never presume to work harder than any other pinot noir producer in the country. We all work our arses off. If you know pinot, you know… bastard of a thing it is.”

Lindsay McCall, chair of the Australian Pinot Noir Challenge was delighted to see such strong representation across 18 premium pinot noir producing regions. Entries have grown close to 20% on the previous year which is testament to the shows growing reputation and its ability to amplify sales and brand recognition for its past winners.

“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 regions,” 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 world’s most exclusive and expensive wine.”

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