My Australian friend Howard Hilton told me I needed to know about a wine. I asked him if other people needed to know and he was fervently affirmative. “Well, tell the world using the power of my organ!”, I suggested. The following article is the result!
Sometimes one discovers pleasures when it is nearly too late to enjoy them; everyone will have their own list. Recently this happened to me with a wine called Paradise IV Dardel, a shiraz made on the western bank of the Moorabool River at Batesford in Victoria.
The first thing I noticed when I drank this wine, the 2014, was that it was bloody brilliant. I have been drinking Ozzie Shiraz as a break from the many good Yarra valley and Tasmanian Pinots I have been having lately.
This wine is really very good, super in fact. My good friend Huon Hooke gave it me without comment at dinner and I am so glad he did, the next day I went and bought some and got in touch with Doug Neal the wine maker. Happily I am now on the list for the last two vintages that will ever be made.
The owners of the vineyard, Ruth and Graham Bonney, wanted to retire but could not find anyone to take over the vineyard so the wines were grubbed up and the land is now for sale as a block with a house on it.
The destruction of this small vineyard of just 2.5 ha is a loss of the very first order and is a real tragedy. Perhaps not irreversible as one could replant it as it was replanted before by the Bonneys in the early 1990s. But that is a lot of work and waiting and who is to know the results.
The wine is of course the fruit, but importantly it is also Doug Neal, who is a fantastic wine maker who has made all the Paradise IV wines in recent times.
The premium Shiraz (the Dardel mentioned above) is simply superb. The 2016 is still available in a few retail outlets and the 2017 has just been released; the last wine to be made will be the 2018 which is now in cask. A Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend of Cab Sav (85%), Shiraz & Cab Franc called Chaumont and a Chardonnay of finesse are also made and both are excellent.
This vintage no Chaumont was made as the cabernet fruit was not good enough. However, all was not lost as a one off blend of Cabernet and Shiraz called Resilience was made which is itself bloody excellent wine and currently selling at the give-away price of AU$30.
This plot has been known for wine for a long time. The original vineyard was planted in 1848 by a Swiss vigneron, James Henry Dardel and then comprised 4 blocks of which Paradise IV is the one remaining.
Technically speaking the vineyard slopes to the north east and the soil comprises of a top soil of decomposed granite from the Dog Rocks mixed with Ironstone. Some 4 – 6 feet beneath this starts a very deep layer of limestone marl that dates back to the time when the area was under water, 16-23 million years ago. The site is protected from some of the Australian summer heat which is why Paradise IV wines are aromatic, finely structured and never burdened by too much alcohol. Elegance, subtlety and fine aromatics are the key features.
I recommend these wines to you if you can find them. Worth making an effort.
Huon Hooke who introduced me to this wine is perhaps Australia’s leading reviewer and taster the following is his note published by him on his web page on his web page. I also recommend Huon for accurate honest no nonsense commentary (so do I, The Real Review is required reading for anyone interested in Antipodean wine – Davy).
Paradise IV Dardel Shiraz 2017
Deep, bright red colour with a good purple rim and a deliciously spicy, red-fruited bouquet. Hints of graphite, black pepper and just a hint of vegetal character. It’s already very complex and stylish, showing great potential. The palate is medium to full-bodied and elegantly-crafted, with abundant supple tannins and terrific length. An outstanding shiraz, in the mould of the stellar 2010 Dardel.
Thank you Howard! You have certainly sold these wines to me! Any importers reading please comment so we know where to buy.