I have now been back in Melbourne two weeks from Cardan Bordeaux and I have really only just started to assimilate what I saw and learnt from that (as always) too short visit to Paradise.

Westerly view across Hourcat Centre - the new home of Paradise Rescued Merlot

Westerly view across Hourcat Centre – the new home of Paradise Rescued Merlot

I was planning in our blogs to write a “significant summary” of the visit and progress in our vineyards, winery and business. I now realise that it probably won’t fit into one blog unless I make it the size of a small book. So that won’t be happening – at least in this media format for the moment – so I will continue the report backs in more easily digestible pieces.

Two weeks ago we talked about the stunning results of the Cabernet Franc and our tasting test results. This week we will turn out attention to Merlot. “Project Merlot” is probably a better term for this ever popular and successful Bordeaux varietal wine, particularly in the Paradise Rescued context where we started with one tenth of a hectare of 55+ year old nearly dead vines and three times that much of completely dead Sémillon back in 2011!

Maintaining our Mission to sustain the rural heritage of our beautiful village of Cardan and rejuvenating the Hourcat Centre vineyard as our new home for Merlot is a labour of love. And it is really only now – after nearly four years of work that we can start to see the progress.

Looking up through the Old Vine Merlot block to the newly planted area beyond.

  Looking up through the Old Vine Merlot block to the newly planted area. A picture of vineyard health.

2012 was the first year that we harvested a small quantity of Merlot after intense love and intervention the previous year to save as much as we could of the old vines. The character of the wines from that vintage is only just starting to show in some of our tastings of Merlot / CabFranc blends. The initial feedback from our customers and visitors as well as our own team’s observations is extremely positive. The small samples of the 2014 tasted last month are also showing early promising signs (rich, soft, fruity and gently tannin-ed) as we prepare the wine to go into barrel for ageing.

The biggest advance can be seen in the vineyard itself. With the new vine planting last July, it was time to get some help to work on the soil fully. With specialist traditional help, the complete vineyard was transformed back in October, digging up and turning over all the soil under and around every vine – young and old! Between the rows, winter cereal has been sown and is growing healthily. In short, the Hourcat Sud block looks a picture of health.

In the spring we will refill the holes in the Old Vine block and then we will be on track make this a beautiful Bordeaux Merlot block.

Merlot marches on…