6th Pinot Noir Challenge reveals Australia’s best Pinot Noir

October 6, 2023
By Melissa Parker

At the annual Pinot Noir Challenge Gala Dinner at Cutler & Co in Melbourne last night, Tasmania was announced as the winner with its 2022 Meadowbank Pinot Noir. Adelaide Hills and Yarra Valley, come a close second.

Made by winemaking legendPeter Dredge, Meadowbank taking the honours marks the fourth win for Tasmania in the show’s six-year history.

The judging panel, chaired by Matt Harrop of Curly Flat Vineyard agreed 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. Gerald Ellis planted vines on his property in 1976 despite wide scepticism.

His hunch proved on the money. The vineyard’s warm days and cool nights are ideal for cultivating Pinot Noir and it is said Meadowbank produces fruit of a ‘near-ethereal’ quality. Gerald continues to manage the vineyard with his daughter Mardi.

Mardi Ellis said, “What an honour and what an exhilarating ride. We feel extremely humbled and excited to receive this award. When Dad (Gerald Ellis) 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.”

Winemaker at Meadowbank since 2015, Dredge has worked closely with the vineyard since 2010.

“It has been such a pleasure to work with this beautiful vineyard for 13 years now. Since becoming a partner with Meadowbank, our sole focus has been reinvigorating the single vineyard releases by homing in on the strengths and weaknesses of the vineyard which abounds 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.” Dredge said.

Lindsay McCall, Chair of the Australian Pinot Noir Challenge is 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 a testament to the show’s growing reputation.

“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,” he concluded. 

Picture – Left to Right: Peter Dredge, Gerald Ellis, Mardi Ellis.

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