Peter Dredge is on track to becoming one of the most important winemakers of his generation. Recently nominated for the Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year, Dredge's breadth of winemaking talents shown across the Dr. Edge, Meadowbank and Brian labels exhibits a rare level of versatility and craftsmanship. With his newly released micro-batch wines from Oregon, USA, you can see his talents traverse oceans and hemispheres.
The three Pinot Noirs and Gamay from Oregon's Willamette Valley will be the best value set of fine wines from the USA to hit Australian shores this year. These wines are over a decade in the making, and we assure you, it's been well worth the wait.
Dredge's connection with Oregon stretches back to his days as a winemaker at Petaluma in the early 2000s. The Petaluma Group also owned notable Oregon producer, Argyle. Cellar hands and interns would migrate between the two wineries for perpetual vintages across both hemispheres.
During this time, Dredge developed close relationships with some of the Oregonians, friendships that remain strong to this day. When it was his chance to do his stint making Pinot Noir at Argyle in 2005, Dredge, ironically, opted instead to spend his time abroad in Germany learning his way around Riesling with Ernst Loosen at JL Wolf and Dr. Loosen.
"My turn came in 2005 to go to Argyle... I said “Fuck Pinot, I want to go to Germany and make Riesling.” and was lucky enough to work at JL Wolf and Dr Loosen for a couple of months. It's funny looking back on it now."
Fast forward to 2010 and Dredge had packed up his life and moved to Tasmania lured by the siren song of Pinot Noir. By 2013 Dredge was a senior winemaker at Bay of Fires with another Oregonian and now Head Winemaker at Adelsheim in the Chehalem Mountains, Matt Perry, working under him as an intern. The two struck up a close friendship so when Dredge left Bay of Fires in 2015 to pursue his Dr. Edge plans, a trip to Oregon was on the cards.
"When I resigned and started Dr Edge in 2015 I had nothing to do in September so I worked at a co-op in Carlton (Willamette Valley) as a cellar hand for a working holiday to pick up ideas for a co-op facility which is where I wanted to steer Dr. Edge/Brian/Meadowbank. I also wanted to produce Pinot Noir made identically to the Tasmanian Dr. Edges for comparisons."
"Initially I had my sights on Europe for a Dr Edge Pinot project with my British Passport and dual citizenship but Brexit was looming so I went cold on it and decided to lean on friends in the Willamette. By this stage (vintage 2016/2017), Joe Holyman and I had my Oregon friends now working with us on Stoney Rise, Brian, Meadowbank, & Dr Edge between the Tamar (early season) and Derwent Valley (late season) so a similar exchange program to Petaluma-Argyle was forged. But much looser."
The first USA Dr. Edge and Brian wines were produced in 2017 from Keeler Estate Vineyard in Amity (Eola Amity Hills). Dredge stayed with his friend Kevin Healy, now senior winemaker at Keeler, and who is now a partner in the Dr. Edge/Brian USA operation along with Joe Holyman & wine writer/presenter Mike Bennie.
Cut to 2018, Dr. Edge Tasmania is in full swing, just a few vintages in and they were already some of the most sought-after wines on the Apple Isle. Dredge seized the opportunity to replicate the Tasmanian Pinot Noir single-vineyard project in Oregon, taking fruit from two sustainable/organic vineyards and crafting two distinct single-vineyard wines and a third wine that combines the two sites for a more general regional expression. The results from 2018 are spectacular.
Oregon is a warmer growing region than Tasmania and it shows in the extra levels of ripeness, density and power in these wines compared to their Australian counterparts. He freaked out the locals by picking far earlier than the Americans in search of that same tension and freshness that sets his Tasmanian Pinot Noirs apart.
The Dukes Family Vineyard in Amity, previously managed by friend Kevin Healy, supplies the fruit for the Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir. It's a cooler site for the region, in the south of Willamette Valley. This is the finer, more focused wine of the three. It's red-fruited, floral, nervy and has the texture of fine bone china. It's stunning.
The Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir comes from the Azana vineyard owned by Healy's uncle. This wine shows immense power and athleticism, with raw mineral drive and a riotous perfume of cherries, strawberries and volcanic earth. It's smoky, it's seductive, it's pleasure in Pinot form. This is a phenomenal depiction of Pinot Noir that will continue to reveal further layers of itself for many years to come.
The Willamette Pinot Noir combines the charms of both vineyards into a complete, perfectly balanced wine of charm and epic drinkability. To taste all three beside each other is a pleasure and a study in the ability of Pinot Noir to translate terroir like no other red grape.
If you've enjoyed Dredge's home-grown offerings, you'll fall in love with these US releases. The style, the elegance, the electrifying funk that the Tasmanian Dr. Edge Pinots have become known for remains constant across both hemispheres. These wines are profound in a way that only Pinot Noir can be. Dredge says making these wines has been one of the most challenging and rewarding projects to date.
"This has been one of the most challenging ventures of my career, even more challenging than working with Joe Holyman and Mike Bennie. We enjoyed our travels over there immensely and meeting new friends in the Willamette has been the highlight. I relied on these friends. A lot and am eternally grateful."
With this release, Dredge finds himself in rarefied air as a true artist of the variety. These wines further the case that he is sure to become one of the most influential winemakers of the modern era.
We are thrilled to be able to offer you these excellent Oregon offerings for a limited time. With less than 70 dozen made of the three Pinot Noirs in existence, they won't be available for long. Secure your allocation for your cellar while stocks last.