Meadowbank: the vineyard you drink when you don't know you're drinking it


Meadowbank: the vineyard you drink when you don’t know you’re drinking it


Sure, it sounds like a stupid title. But you know what, it’s true. Although, curb your expectations here. I am not about to blow you away with a story of how one vineyard makes some of the most diverse and interesting wines in Tasmania. No, it’s much more important than that.

Some people not totally up to speed with the Tasmanian wine game, and that throwaway tag of 'branding', might not know that Gerald Ellis planted his site in the Derwent Valley near Glenora, and founded the Meadowbank Vineyard in the early days of modern Tasmanian wine. They also might not know that for some years, Meadowbank lent its name to the estate now known as Frogmore Creek Vineyard, in Tasmania's Coal River Valley. A large operation now, making their own wines and wines on contract, Frogmore Creek have moved on, and in 2012, so did Meadowbank. Gerald decided to use the good name and reputation built up by the name, and to get the grapes from his own vines and put them not just in other people's wines, but in his own.

Peter Dredge heads up the winemaking team under the Meadowbank Vineyard label, but the roll-call of Tasmania's prized wines that buy fruit from the vineyard certainly opens your eyes to the potential of this site. The list of grapes grown on the site is as long as those who scramble to source fruit from the vineyard. Arguably best known for its Pinot Noir (as Tasmania in general seems to be now, for good reason), Meadowbank bottles its own, and sells grapes to award-winning label Dawson and James, as well as Domaine Simha, who vinify the grapes themselves using different methods, techniques and philosophies (as well as marketing), showing the diversity of fruit from this place. The biggest plantings in the vineyard, Pinot Noir takes up over 16 hectares, and some blocks go back to 1974. The same two labels also source their heady and award winning Sauvignon Blanc from this vineyard.




The same Pinot Noir grapes also go into sparkling. For this, see Gerald's list of clients including House of Arras and Bay of Fires, arguably the leading sparkling wine houses in Tasmania. Kate Hill, also producing a sparkling, sources grapes from this site for Pinot Noir and for Riesling. Chardonnay, too, finds its way to these labels, which goes into the quintessential sparkling blend of Pinot Noir-Chardonnay, or stand alone. The 1987 Chardonnay plantings at Meadowbank must rank among some of the oldest of that variety in the state. 

Yet climate change also works miracles here. As Australians are slowly made aware that there is more to life than Barossa Shiraz (as good as it is), Shiraz is creeping into winemaking portfolios across Tasmania. In 2011, Australia's premier red wine trophy, the Jimmy Watson Trophy, was won by none other than Glaetzer-Dixon Winemakers in Tasmania, with Shiraz sourced from Gerald Ellis' Meadowbank Vineyard. As more Tasmanian winemakers look for fully ripened cool-climate Shiraz, this seems to be the place to be. Plantings are incredibly diverse, but picture this. You scramble to get your hands on grapes, only to be told... there are only 0.14 hectares of Shiraz planted here, sourced from plantings dating back to 1974 and 1989. That's 0.34 hectares, only slightly more than your parent's 1/4 acre house block. Now you're seeing the dilemma with high quality Tasmanian fruit.

As more Australian drinkers diversify their tastes, we're seeing that just like fashion, old becomes new again. Perhaps your parents told you that when they were young, they were fond of a cheap Beaujolais. It's no longer cheap, but it's still jolly. Thanks to hip wine bars and changing palates, Gamay, the grape that makes up Beaujolais, has found a new spiritual home in Tasmania. Gerald and the team bottle their own, and some makes its way into Domaine Simha's fantastic Gamay offering, which quickly sells out.

Aaannddd to the review. I should note, this Riesling planting here also makes its way into Domaine Simha's Riesling which is also, funnily enough, regularly sold out.

2016 Meadowbank Vineyard Riesling
Exotic nose and palate, with some singed apple, then some citrus like lemon and lime on the nose. Musk and talc underscore the luscious white stone fruit nose. In the mouth, it's both cut through with acid backbone and beautiful clear melon, ripe and plump lime and lemon following. Finishes clear and refreshing. More luxurious, friendly, and accommodating than many Tasmanian Rieslings, drink this now or in 5 years. And for food? Well, pork dumplings of course. Or pork knuckle, if you're so inclined. Just get some.

Find them here: www.meadowbank.com.au

Thanks all,
David

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I think I was captured by how essentially natural or organic the whole process of winemaking is. It's farming, it's viticulture, it's weather and soil, and many more things. It's the winemaker. But after all these things, after the cap is unscrewed or the cork popped, I (and you) get to enjoy it. Then we talk about it and learn some more. Which is, I guess, the reason why you're here! Here you'll find stories, links, wine education samples and wine reviews. I am entirely independent and my wine reviews and ratings are based on my own thoughts and opinions. I accept no endorsements for products or good reviews. Enjoy! I can be reached for comments, feedback and questions at dbtaylor01@gmail.com. Good drinking to you! David

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