Paradise IV is a small, five acre vineyard planted to Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon (with small plantings of other varieties) established by Graham and Ruth Bonney in 1988. It sits on a northeast facing slope, sheltered from the hotter extremes of the Moorabool valley, at Bates ford, just a few kilometres west of Geelong. The soils are decomposed granite over limestone and deep clay.
Formerly called Moorabool Estate, it sits on the original Paradise IV site established by Swiss immigrant J-H Dardel in the 1840s. Dardel established 45 acres of vineyards (Paradise I, II, III and IV) at Batesford. He also helped with the establishment, management and winemaking at Yering in the Yarra Valley – very likely Dardel was Victoria’s first winemaker. Phylloxera struck the Geelong region around 1877 and the vines at Paradise were pulled out and burned in 1881.
The vineyard itself is nestled behind a post and rail fence and immaculately tended. The most recent plantings, all Shiraz, are now 15 years old and yielding fruit of high quality along with the older plantings. There are three wines made, a Chardonnay, “Dardel” (a Shiraz) and “Chaumont” (a blend of Bordeaux varieties with Shiraz), named for Dardel’s bluestone home, an old police station which he bought, extended and renovated, and which is still occupied today.
Since and including the 2006 vintage, the wines have been made by Doug Neal, who has had the benefit of working many vintages with Rick Kinzbrunner at Giaconda. After moving to Geelong, Doug looking for the opportunity to make wine in the region and after searching for the right vineyard, had his light bulb moment at the Bonney’s Moorabool Estate, recognizing immediately the special character of the site.
From 2006 considerable work has been carried out in the vineyard, including changing the trellising from Scott-Henry to VSP, reducing yields dramatically (by half) and restoring the soils.
A tasting of the wines from 2006 with Doug Neal was a revelation, particularly from 2008 onwards. Paradise IV Chardonnay 2008 with five years under its belt was powerful but balanced, showing stone fruits, fig and cashew; complex and long with minerally acidity woven throughout. Paradise VI Chardonnay 2011, from a challenging, cool and wet vintage was pale lemon, white peachy, firm and savoury with again that lovely slaty, minerally note. The first impression was like the first bite of a firm but ripe nectarine. This is still evolving and will age well.
Tasting through the reds from 2006 onwards, there was a distinct change in style, reflecting no doubt the lower yields and other changes in vineyard management and experience with the fruit in the winemaking process. The wines from 2008 and later showed increasing poise, balance, and intensity. Paradise IV Bate’s Ford Shiraz 2011 is savoury, sinewy and spicy, beautifully balanced and delicious, a testament to the vineyard and the winemaking given the difficult vintage.
The current releases, 2012 Chardonnay, 2012 “Dardel” and 2012 “Chaumont” are terrific wines, but unfortunately limited in supply.
Paradise IV Chardonnay 2012 – pale gold, green tinged; powerful, balanced, with beautiful acid holding the wine together in a seamless display of stone fruits, meal and cashew and sweet oak influences (25% new Sirugue and Minier). Lovely even now, because of its balance, this will age and develop well (on the evidence of the 2008) over at least 5 to 6 years and beyond, if you can keep your hands off it. Screw cap closure, 12.8%. $A45.
Paradise IV Dardel Shiraz 2012 – deeply, darkly coloured, crimson; medium bodied, fleshy and complex, with long intense flavours of dark fruits with hints of chocolate, black pepper. Oak is very much in the background (20% new). Velvety ripe tannins, a seductive wine; as with the Chardonnay, so easy to drink now, but will be at its best with five or so years in a cool dark place. Screw cap closure, 13.5%. $A50.
Paradise IV Chaumont 2012 – healthy bright deep colour, medium bodied, leafy, complex red fruits, long and intense. Blackcurrants, savoury notes, spice; long, firm with fine tannins, this will age well and in fact demands cellar time. There are some cedary oak influences (the oak is 50% new), adding further complexity. Earlier vintages support a seven year prediction at a minimum to maximise its potential, and it should hold well for some time beyond. Screw cap closure, 13.5%. $A45.
Visit the website at www.paradiseivwines.com.au. The vineyard itself is not open to the public. Quantities of the Paradise IV Bates’ Ford Shiraz 2011 ($36) and Paradise IV Chardonnay 2011 ($45) have been held back and are also available. All of these wines are delicious and very fairly priced; the 2012s are in short supply and will likely sell fast.
Under the direction and winemaking of Doug Neal and with the Bonneys’ hard work in the vineyard, Paradise IV has been progressively producing wines with a distinctive vineyard influence and of the highest quality.