Yesterday a benchmark tasting at Haskell Vineyards in Stellenbosch, the line-up including three vintages of the Bordeaux-style red Haskell IV plus six other wines selected by Haskell CEO Grant Dodd, four from Australia and two from Bordeaux.
The tasting was conducted blind, my scores and tasting notes as follows:
Haskell IV 2007
70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot. Cassis, graphite and some leafiness on the nose. Great fruit concentration, fresh acidity, fine tannins. Seamless with a savoury finish.
Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Margaret River, Australia
Ripe dark fruit and attractive oak spice on the nose. Sweet and juicy on entry, soft but sufficient acidity, not too smooth textured. Very good in the modern idiom.
Haskell IV 2008 (Current release. Price: R395)
73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Dark fruit and an attractive herbal note on the nose and palate. Classically styled with bright acidity and fine tannins. A bit lean but has a pleasant coolness about it.
Balnaves of Coonawarr The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Coonawarra, Australia
Very ripe dark fruit, some mint, prominent oak. Rich and full, slightly sweet, smooth textured. Modern style.
Pierro Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2009, Margaret River, Australia
Red fruit and an odd stewed veggie note on the nose and palate. Lighter style with bright acidity and fine tannins. Old school.
Reserve de la Comtesse 2009, Pauillac
A decadent wine showing ripe, slightly macerated black fruit and plenty of oak-derived notes including vanilla, chocolate and coffee. Smooth textured and arguably lacking freshness.
Haskell IV 2009
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Shiraz. Ripe dark fruit, chocolate plus more curious shoe polish and meaty notes. Rich and full, the fruit ever so slightly stewed in character. Currently somewhat unknit with oak very much in evidence.
Wantirra Estate Amelia Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2009, Yarra Valley, Australia
Boiled sweets, mint and vanilla on the nose. Sweet upfront then sour on finish. Hollow on the mid-palate with a definite green edge. Not unpleasant but rather straightforward.
Haut Batailley 2009, Pauillac
Pronounced Brettanomyces character on the nose and palate. Stripped of fruit, bitter on the finish.