In 1976, Peter Dawson and Tim James met while they were both working at Thomas Hardy & Sons in Adelaide. Peter was a science student who was working as a cellar hand, and Tim was the production winemaker. They worked there together for 20 years before moving on to new ventures, yet both knew that at some stage they would end up collaborating. Peter and Tim shared a love of pinot noir, and were drawn to the Derwent Valley in Tasmania, where the cool climate allows pinot to ripen slowly and develop its flavours. In 2010 they released the first vintage of pinot noir and chardonnay, which was highly anticipated by many in the wine industry, due to Peter and Tim’s reputations. So far, only one vintage has been missed- in 2012, due to a fire which caused smoke taint in the grapes, a particularly off-putting quality. The vineyard, Meadowbank, produces fruit which is highly sought-after by brands such as Brown Brothers, Arras, and Glaetzer Dixon.
In counterpoint to some wineries that offer dozens of different wines, Dawson & James’ offerings are very modest: one pinot noir and one chardonnay, with multiple vintages occasionally available (until sold out). The pinot noir consists of the popular MV6 clone, as well as Pommard, which is generally seen to give wines a gamey/meaty edge. The pinots are regularly classed as among the best in Australia, such as the 2015, which was given 98 points by James Halliday and described as ‘sumptuous and svelte’, with ‘layers of flavour play[ing] out across an expansive palate.’ The chardonnay also deserves a mention, as critics have compared them to some impressive premier crus from Burgundy, though often fruitier and softer.