Three trophies and 5 gold medals, comprising 10 percent of all gold medal winners from Australia.
That was Tasmania's giant-killing performance at the 2021 International Wine Challenge (IWC), judged in London.
The competition's major awards were announced at a gala wine trade event held outdoors there on June 30.
Some 90 international wine experts assessed thousands of entries from more than 50 countries during their two weeks of blind tastings.
Wines were scored on a 100-point scale, with 95-100 required for gold medal standard.
Each medal winner was tasted on at least three occasions by a minimum of two panels, before event co-chairs re-tasted and verified the results.
The five gold medal winners from Tasmania were the Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged Vintage 2005, Arras Vintage Rosé 2008, Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay 2019, Dawson James Chardonnay 2018 and Dawson James Pinot Noir 2018.
A sixth gold medal winner, Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay 2019, is a renowned cross-regional blend. A major portion is sourced from Tasmania's Derwent and Coal River Valleys.
"Whilst only representing one percent of Australia's vineyard area, Tasmania is becoming internationally renowned as a producer of premium wines," the IWC organisers concluded.
"In this year's competition, a Tasmanian sparkling wine, Arras E.J Carr Late Disgorged Vintage 2005 from House of Arras, has been awarded the Australian Sparkling Trophy.
"This latest win reinforces Tasmania's reputation as one of Australia's leading producers of sparkling wine, with every Australian Sparkling Trophy awarded by the International Wine Challenge in the last 10 years having been won by a Tasmanian producer."
Such words are music to the ears of Tasmanian industry stalwart Gerald Ellis.
In addition to producing wines under the very successful Meadowbank label, his family's 50ha vineyard north of Glenora in the Derwent Valley grows wine grapes for half a dozen major brands.
They include Arras and Dawson James.
The Derwent Valley property has played a leading role in Ed Carr's world-class Arras sparkling wine project since its inception in 1995.
The Dawson James gold medal winners were crafted entirely from Meadowbank Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
When Ellis and his wife Sue purchased Meadowbank from the Winspear family in 1976, a tiny vineyard was already established on the remote valley site, 60km from Hobart.
Adding more vines seemed entirely reasonable if anything was to come from the grazing property's limited, pioneering venture into cool climate viticulture.
"But conventional wisdom at the time said you couldn't grow grapes in the cold wilds of Tasmania," Ellis recalls.
"It was too wild, too unpredictable. We were too close to the edge of the world."
But look who's having the last word now.
"Admittedly, the climate has changed a helluva lot since those early days," he continues.
"We can be pretty dry here. Annual rainfall is now much less than it was and is expected to get worse. We're so lucky to have such a great water resource - the Derwent River -flowing right past our front door. It's gold to those of us farming here."
As someone who has been a witness to climate change in South Australian vineyards for more than half a century, Peter Dawson has nothing but praise for Ellis and his four decades of careful viticultural management.
Dawson and his business partner Tim James began their winemaking careers in the 1970s.
Both worked for the renowned family company of Thomas Hardy & Sons. It was Hardys' Eileen Hardy Chardonnay program and subsequent moves into premium sparkling wine during the mid-1990s that brought Tasmania onto the pair's radar.
"I can remember the first year Hardys took fruit from Meadowbank it was for Arras sparkling," Dawson says.
"The company eventually entered into a long-term contract arrangement that enabled Gerald to expand the vineyard and continue with Arras. When my association with Hardys ended in 2009 and I began discussions with Tim, we decided it would be great to have a crack at making a good Pinot Noir. That meant looking to Tasmania for fruit.
"I'd had a long and very productive relationship with Gerald. The rest is history."
The Dawson James label was launched amid considerable fanfare in late 2011, with its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines from 2010 receiving critical acclaim.
This year's IWC success is a fine follow-up to the company's gold medal showing at the Decanter World Wine Awards, held in London in 2020.
"We've all shared high expectations and standards in terms of our appreciation of wine," Dawson admits.
"Now we've pushed ourselves to make wines that hold their own with the best in the world."
PICK OF THE CROP
2019 Meadowbank Chardonnay $50
Meadowbank in the upper Derwent Valley was first planted to vines in the 1970s, but only added Chardonnay in the late 1980s. It was a smart move by the Ellis family.
The variety does double duty, providing high acid sparkling base material in addition to fresh and zesty, sensitively oaked dry whites. Winemaker Peter Dredge has done a fine job in crafting this excellent New World expression of Chardonnay.
There's a lovely, juicy limey element that pairs nicely with the wine's refined French oak structure. That makes it high-toned and food friendly. Try simple, pan-fried local trout.
2020 Brinktop Tempranillo $36
Our climate is changing. So what red varieties might provide alternatives to Pinot Noir? Modern selections of classic Mediterranean wine grapes are proving to be successful in many parts of the country.
Todd Goebel and Gill Christian at Penna in the state's south are getting great results from Tempranillo on their dry, well-exposed Coal River Valley site.
This vintage opens deep and crimson.
Generous cherry/berry fruit aromas then show some warm volcanic rock nuances, adding to the wine's distinctly savoury characters. French oak is gladly understated, ensuring the plump mid-palate here remains the centre of attention. Good stuff.
2020 Invercarron Pinot Noir $39
Invercarron's elevated slopes overlooking the Jordan Valley around Broadmarsh appear to have a great future for producing premium Tasmanian Pinot Noir.
This wine's predecessor from 2019 was one of seven gold medal winners in Pinot Noir classes, totalling 130-plus entries at the 2020 Royal Hobart Wine Show.
Contract winemaker Justin Arnold has done a fine job in fashioning this new release into an engaging, fruit-forward wine. It's ripe, smooth and cherry/plummy, with just the right amount of fine tannin allowing the wine to linger on the palate. Keep two to four years. For current consumption, decant before serving with rare beef or venison.
- Mark Smith wrote his first weekly Tasmanian wine column back in 1994. He continues to chart the successes of the state's small scale, cool climate wine industry with contributions to some of Australia's leading industry publications.