Altera Terra & Hesket

It's not everyday that you get to taste first release wines that you know will soon become staples for serious Australian wine collectors in years to come. The wines from Altera Terra are those wines.

The project is the next chapter in the winemaking story of Doug Neal, formerly of the brilliant - and now no longer - Paradise IV. While the demise of the vineyard (which Neal did not own) is one of the more shocking and sad episodes in recent times, the legacy of the Paradise IV bottlings up to the final release 18 months ago left an indelible mark on the many fans amongst our customers. The wines also announced Neal as a formidable talent, albeit one who has flown under-the-radar for much of his winemaking career. 

Before Paradise IV finished, Neal had been working on the next stanza. His years learning under Giaconda's Rick Kinzbrunner as well as a growing list of consulting successes had honed his vision and understanding of the processes needed to give "voice" to ideas that had been percolating and taking form for decades. One of these was his aim to produce Shiraz that held elegance and nuance as well as density of flavour like those he had tasted in the northern Rhone valley (a feature of the Paraduse IV Dardel in fact) so when a mature vineyard, planted on granite, with multiple clones and at altitude in Murrumbateman became available for long term contract, the stars started to align on his new project, Altera Terra...Another Land. 

There are very small amounts of two wines, Corda and Sanctus. The first of these is a pinot noir shiraz blend and an homage to the genre of similar Hunter blends including the legendary, Maurice O'Shea, that Neal had been moved by in the past. In his words, the idea is to combine subtlety and depth. Before you go thinking this is yet another version of the quaffable blends coming out of places like the Yarra, think again. The Corda holds more weight and structure and gives the impression that some ageing will see the wine reveal even more perfume and complexity through the already impressive palate. Why Cordo - Latin for heart and these two varieties, the winemaker writes, are closest to his heart. 

Sanctus is the syrah/shiraz and combines three different clones off the plot. Those who know the Dardel of Paradise IV will instantly recognise key features of perfumed and expressive fruit, spice and graphite while the palate holds gorgeous slippery texture which envelops impressive structure and energy. It's a ripper.

I have included the only review there are just now (Neal isn't too bothered with the wine press) and I think they both capture the essence of the wines really well. 

I have very little to go around so please be quick if you wish to grab some for the cellar. You will not regret it. I think back to the first releases of the Paradise IV wines, we made a similarly emphatic plea for you to try the wines. They of course went on to be hugely lauded and sell outs every year. I reckon the same will happen with Altera Terra so get in on the ground floor.