Paradise Rescued – the Merlot Q&A


Following last week’s announcement of the launch of the Paradise Rescued BlockTwo Merlot Cab Franc brand, we have followed up with an interview with our Founder Director David Stannard to bring us up to speed with the major changes and developments for the niche winery brand.

Q: David, thank you once again for taking time to share the Paradise Rescued news. I can see that a lot has been happening. Tell us first about the exciting launch of the BlockTwo Merlot Cab Franc brand. 

DS: It’s a pleasure as always. We love sharing our news and updates with our Club members, fans and community. It’s a key part of being a sustainable company.

BlockTwo Merlot Cab Franc – new Paradise Rescued Bordeaux wine in the spotlight. BlockTwo is exciting for a number of reasons. Firstly it means that our Merlot wine has now finally come to market with the opening of the winery doors for sales in Cardan Bordeaux. This has been a long project starting back in 2011 with the acquisition of what is now the Merlot block in Cardan but back then it was a wreck from which we were able at least to save the old Merlot vines for ongoing production. Furthermore, we are now very impressed with the quality of the wine produced and the future potential of that combined complete old / young vine block

Q: You have opened the doors in winery doors in Cardan with both the 2016 B1ockOne Cabernet Franc and BlockTwo Merlot Cab Franc. What was the reason behind that decision?

DS: As you know, our mission was established on the basis of being an export driven company. Why? Because that’s where we could make best use of the small resources we had available. Over time since our first vintage, the overwhelming local feedback from our community, friends and Cardan Operations team has suggested that the local opportunity might be equally strong starting with opening the cellar door and local French national sales. 

In early 2017, we took the decision to store the 2016 production vintage in local French national storage space rather than pre-exported “tax free” storage. So 2016 is the first vintage for both brands that will be available for local sales. The next step is to make those wines available across the wider European market.

Q: What does that mean for the back vintages since 2010?

DS: Good question. We have small stocks of 2012, 2013 (no BlockTwo produced), 2014 plus good quantities of 2015 available for export and we will be starting this process in the very near future as our stocks of 2010 start to run down in both Australia and New York.

Q: Turning to vineyard and production issues, what can you tell us about what is going on in Cardan, Bordeaux? 

DS: There is never a shortage of development and activity in Cardan! Season 2019 is off and running now. And very early too! I estimate that we are probably 3-4 weeks ahead of 2018 at this stage. When I was in Cardan in March 2018, the buds were firmly closed plus it was cold and continually wet. This year it has been warm, mostly dry with strong light. So, by the end of March, many of the buds had broken and the first two leaves were out. Fingers crossed that there is no late April frost that hit the Bordeaux region back in 2017. Club members will be able to see this in their Inside Paradise vlog included in their Newsletter update this weekend. It’s a good video!

Overall, in my mind, there is a very good feel in the vineyard when I look at the soil and health of the vines. Sure good light and sunshine helps. But at the same time, all the signs are there. I am very impressed how Pascale has been able to rejuvenate the soil. When I think back to what both Cabernet Franc and Merlot vineyards looked like back in 2010/11, the change is dramatic. And even as I receive more early photos back through from the team, I can now see that health. It all starts with the soil in the vineyard.

Q: And in the winery David?

DS: Lots happening there too! The 2017 wines have been bottles and taken away to safe store. The 2018 wines are now maturing in barrel in the new barrel storage space. And I have to add, they are dramatic – even at this comparatively early stage. Courtesy of the very hot dry summer, the yields were very controlled but also the berries were small and the intensity of the wine colours is deep. The wines have naturally filtered themselves and sparkle in the light. The aromas are fruit filled and amazing. 

In order to prepare for the increased fruit loads and wine volumes as the new Merlot block comes into full production, we have created a new space for barrel storage which gives us a space to welcome our visitors to the winery and also allows to install our sixth ‘microcuve’ vat ready for harvest time in September. Exciting times.

Q: And our final question David. The new B1ockOne and BlockTwo labels. Wow, they are different. How did those come about and what has been the reaction?

DS: Yes, the wonderful new labels. We are very proud of them and they are already great conversation pieces which we love. The reactions have been very positive.

The Paradise Rescued “Block series” wines at the Cardan Bordeaux winery tasting barrel.

With the launch of the second label – BlockTwo Merlot Cab Franc, it has been a great opportunity to create a worldwide ‘brand series’. This helps enormously with our media and marketing as one product description can now apply everywhere. Our brief to talented graphic designer Tricia Wiles at Sweet | Graphic Design Online was to create a statement, which would appeal plus standout in all markets. We have always very deliberately not designated ourselves as a ‘château’ – Bordeaux already has about 7,500 of those so our approach has always been to have something which looks different and reflects our alternative modern approach to business. The labels also have to have a look which will photograph well and be visually striking to succeed in today’s social media driven marketplace.

Initially our new customers and visitors to the winery are a touch guarded with their reactions but they are quickly drawn in by the strong identity. They often then reach for the bottle for a closer inspection back and front, study it thoughtfully, taste the wine again and then really embrace the branding. I am also very encouraged that many of our customers in and around Bordeaux are proudly sharing pictures of their bottles being drunk. I think that is a great testimony to both the quality of the wines and their packaging. And when you have a photo up there, the name is clear – it needs no further explanation.

Q: David, thank you once again. We wish you and Team paradise Rescued every success in 2019. 

DS: Thank you. It’s a pleasure – as always. Let’s catch up again soon. For our readers who want to get more of our Paradise Rescued news and read it before everyone else, please join our Club (hit this link, get your free wine tips or send us your details below). We look forward to the conversation with you.