Meadowbank

Delicious Things—2023 Chardonnay, Pinot and Gamay from the Pearl of the Derwent
Meadowbank
From the moment Peter Dredge joined forces with the Ellis family, Meadowbank has not missed a beat. Vintage 2023 continues this partnership’s stellar run of form. In the end, what might have been a damp squib of a vintage turned out to be one of the most exciting years for Peter Dredge and Meadowbank. “We were expecting it to be wet and gross,” Pete told us. “Instead, we got moderate and consistent, and the quality was through the roof.” The third in a line of cooler, low-yielding seasons, Meadowbank’s relatively sheltered position in a pocket of the upper Derwent saw them skate through the heavy rains experienced elsewhere in the valley. Gerald Ellis certainly knew what he was doing when he started planting vines here in 1976.

Peter Dredge has carved out some magical wines from this pristine, if small, harvest. Fuelled by cool-climate tension, the fleshy, mineral-flecked Chardonnay is as faultless as we have tasted from this site. It’s “the best I’ve made”, says Dredge, acknowledging he said as much about last year’s wine! The 2023 Pinot is the second release to include fruit from a small block of volcanic-rooted vines that Pete credits with taking the Pinot to another level. Meeting the high bar set by last year’s trophy-winning release may not have been a walk in the park, yet Dredge has knocked it out of the park with the pure, vibrantly red-fruited 2023. Last, we offer Meadowbank’s pithy, cherry and spice-scented Gamay. Campbell Mattinson calls it “delicious”; Dave Brookes “vivid”; and Bibendum... let’s go with “vividly delicious”.

An altogether terrific release from a first-rate vineyard realised by a talented winemaker. What's not to love?

The Wines

Meadowbank Chardonnay 2023
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Meadowbank Chardonnay 2023

Meadowbank’s Chardonnay yields were down considerably in 2023, yet quality and concentration were through the roof—so much so that Peter Dredge puts this year’s release up there with the very best he’s made. This comes off the property’s oldest vines, which are P58 clone and well into their 30s. Peter Dredge describes the vineyard as a “beautiful little spot” with loose sand and sandstone overlaying dark brown coffee rock rich in iron oxides. The fruit was picked over two passes at slightly different ripeness levels, ensuring sufficient acidity to balance the ripe-leaning nature of the clone. The fruit was pressed as whole bunches to French puncheons for fermentation. This year, Pete upped the percentage of new wood (20%) to balance the density of the fruit from this low-yielding year.

In the classical Meadowbank mould, it’s focused and chiselled with a rocky palate layered with citrus, white flowers and crunchy stone fruits, all pulled taut by that mouth-watering, cool-climate acidity. Dredge’s superb winemaking has drawn out a cracker this year, right down the tapered, pulpy finish teeming with slaty drive, Va va voom. 

Meadowbank Chardonnay 2023
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Meadowbank Pinot Noir 2023
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Meadowbank Pinot Noir 2023

The lion’s share of fruit for Meadowbank’s lithe, detailed Pinot is drawn from a north-facing parcel of vines planted by Gerald Ellis in 1987 (which Pete thinks is probably a combination of MV6 and D5V12 clones). For the last two years, a small portion (about 20%) of younger-vine fruit grown on the Top Woolshed block has been included in the blend. These vines were planted in 2014 on a lofty outcrop with more volcanic presence in the soils than the sand, sandstone and dark coffee rock in the old-vine block. The fruit from here lends savoury, graphite undertones to the wine, as well as driving power and grunt to the back palate. Last year’s release took out the Australian Pinot Noir Challenge, and this year’s wine (in our humble opinion) is a cut above its predecessor. Once again, Pete’s instinct has paid dividends. “The Top Woolshed block is pretty unique; without doubt, it’s the soil type making the difference”, he told us.

The fruit was picked over two weeks and fermented in two batches. The early pick was fully destemmed, while the later pick fermented with 50% bunches. Maturation took place in a mix of old and new oak (about 10%) for nine months. It shimmies out of the glass with lacy berry purity kissed by floral perfumes. Equally vibrant on the palate, the multi-layered texture deals in gorgeous red fruits flecked with sweet, earthy notes and fine, melting graphite tannins. Wow, delicious. There’s terrific depth throughout, yet the delivery is one of elegance, buoyancy, pretty flesh and subtle mineral-scented length of flavour. Quiet power meets Burgundy-leaning charisma. Killer.

Meadowbank Pinot Noir 2023
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Meadowbank Gamay 2023
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Meadowbank Gamay 2023

Since its first release, Meadowbank’s Gamay has generated considerable excitement in the trade. With some foresight, Meadowbank’s original Pinot Block was planted to Gamay in 1987. Then, in 2015, a second small Gamay block (evocatively named Top Woolshed) joined the fold. The soils in each block are loose sand over sandstone and dark brown coffee rock. The second block has a component of dolerite. Both sites are farmed sustainably.

2023 was another low-yielding year for Peter Dredge and the Meadowbank team, but, as in 2022, the fruit was excellent. The blocks were picked separately and fermented as whole clusters over 12 days. The wine was foot-stomped over the next few days before being pressed to old French barriques. The wine then matured for three months in barrel before being bottled without fining or filtration. 

“I'm really digging Tasmanian gamay. Here from Gerald Ellis' Meadowbank vineyard in the Derwent Valley and made by Peter Dredge. Bright and bouncy in hue with wildflower and spice-flecked plum, cranberry and blue fruits, a crushed riverstone savouriness balanced just so with a nice tension between pure fruit and minerally acid velocity. Vivid, delicious and so easy to drink. Will take a chill easily if you want to whack it in the fridge and take it to the beach for rehydration purposes.”
93 points, Dave Brookes, The Wine Companion
“This is looking good. Squeaky clean, polished, perfumed and fruit-driven, but with enough flying about the edges to give it some breadth. Musk and bubble-gum cherries, sweet spice notes, a foresty element and a creaminess. It feels plush – at 12% alcohol – but then finishes dry. Apart from anything else – it’s delicious.”
93 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
Meadowbank Gamay 2023
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Meadowbank Syrah 2021
Meadowbank Syrah 2021
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Meadowbank Syrah 2021

Meadowbank’s award-winning past with Syrah dates to the estate’s oldest vines (planted in 1974). In 2011 these vines famously led to the Jimmy Watson winning Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Pere Shiraz. Alongside a portion from those 45-year-old vines, the remainder of the fruit was hand-picked off a new, north-facing block. All the vines are rooted in Meadowbank’s soils of loose sand and sandstone over dark brown, coffee rock (rich in iron oxides and organic matter). Although the vines are technically farmed conventionally, the team has effectively practiced organics on these blocks for two decades.

The 2021 was made with 100% whole bunches, was naturally fermented and spent 12 days on skins before it was pressed to old French oak barrels. It was matured on lees for nine months, before being racked and bottled with no fining and only a minimal sulphur addition. 

Meadowbank’s 2021 is a beautiful expression of Australia’s growing band of graceful, cool-climate Syrah. It draws you into the glass with sweet spice and red and blue fruits kissed by earth and liquorice. The palate has grip and drive, and impressive structure carries pure and silken fruits with underlying spice and a lick of minerality. There is a light, perfume-driven tread here—it’s a Syrah with true flavour, class, and nuance.

Meadowbank’s 2021 is a beautiful expression of Australia’s growing band of graceful, cool-climate Syrah. It draws you into the glass with sweet spice and red and blue fruits kissed by earth and liquorice. The palate has grip and drive, and impressive structure carries pure and silken fruits with underlying spice and a lick of minerality. There is a light, perfume-driven tread here—it’s a Syrah with true flavour, class, and nuance.

“It’s like a familiar face. Black pepper and cloves, florals and roasted nuts, twiggy spice aplenty, a touch of Mezcal. These characters of course are attached to cherried fruit, bordering on boysenberry and perhaps touching on cranberry too. The point being that it has all the characters you’d hope for in a Tasmanian Syrah, and the fruit profile to match, though it is quite slender, with apple-y acidity, and as a result its quality isn’t quite as emphatic as perhaps it could be. But it’s still delicious, in its style, and I certainly had no hesitation in taking it from the tasting bench to the dinner table.”
92 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
“100% whole-bunch syrah from Gerald Ellis' 1976-planted block, made by winemaker Peter Dredge. I'm loving Tasmanian syrah at the moment and this is a lovely example. Purpley-hued with vivid blue fruits, satsuma plums and some crunchy cranberry notes. Hints of exotic spice and amaro herbs, orange blossom, light meaty notes and a rocky minerality. Supple and super-pure with tight, compact granitic tannins and an energetic acid cadence, finishing plummy and very moreish.”
94 points, Dave Brooks, winecompanion.com.au
Meadowbank Syrah 2021
Meadowbank Syrah 2021
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Meadowbank Blanc de Noirs 2020
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Meadowbank Blanc de Noirs 2020

Meadowbank started producing its Blanc de Noirs in 2018, so 2020 marks the third release. Peter Dredge tells us that Pinot Noir takes on lees characters quicker than Chardonnay, so his Blanc de Noirs will always be released from a more recent vintage than the Blanc de Blancs. The fruit grows on a northeast-facing block with sandy soils over coffee rock on a rolling, five-degree slope in the Far Horse Vineyard.

This release was vinified in stainless steel, and Pete only extracted the cream of the crop, using just 300 litres of juice per tonne in its production (the norm is 500-550 litres). The wine spent three years on lees before disgorgement with zero dosage. 

Meadowbank Blanc de Noirs 2020
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Meadowbank Blanc de Blancs 2018
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Meadowbank Blanc de Blancs 2018

The Meadowbank sparkling program is in full swing, and this 2018 Blanc de Blancs―the third release―is some of Peter Dredge’s finest work, and that’s saying something considering this winemaker’s pedigree when it comes to wines of an effervescent nature. The source is the same as for the 2016 and 2017 wines: the Far Horse Vineyard block, located close to the vines used for Meadowbank Chardonnay. While the latter are exposed to the north, the Blanc de Blancs parcel faces south in a slightly cooler mesoclimate. The clone is I10V1.

2018 was a touch warmer than 2017, delivering intensely flavoured Chardonnay with glisteningly fresh natural acidity. The fruit was picked by hand and pressed as whole bunches, with just the first two-thirds of the juice siphoned off to old barriques (just 8 in total) for fermentation over three months. As in 2017, Dredge washed one new barrel with the sparkling base this year. After three months in oak, the wine was bottled and spent the following five years on lees before disgorgement with just 3g/L dosage. It’s another elegant, detailed wine from the sparkling maestro, balancing pure, potent flavour with delicate, creamy texture, zipline acidity and a long lingering finish. Given the price of Champagne at the moment, Pete’s proposition looks like an absolute steal!

Meadowbank Blanc de Blancs 2018
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“Wines from Peter Dredge are refined in their proportions. Flavour is always at the forefront, yet it’s the purity, structure and length of the wines that make them truly outstanding.” Toni Paterson MW, Gourmet Traveller WINE

“Meadowbank’s vineyard is one of the most important in Tasmanian wine; a whole host of the best quality and most interesting Tasmanian wine brands source fruit from it. The label and winery itself has had a bit of a hiatus but renowned winemaker Peter Dredge has teamed up with the Ellis family to kick things back into life.” Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front

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