Haskell IV 2007

By , 21 June 2013



First among equals.

First among equals.

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.


5 comment(s)

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  • Christian21 June 2013

    I have to say I wasn’t much of a fan of the Haskell IV 2007 on release three years ago (pretty gawky) but it’s looking good now. I suspect the 2009 will be quite a bit better/more resolved by 2015. On the day of the tasting, Haskell winemaker Rianie Strydom spoke of the challenges of making wine that will be instantly accredited and go the distance. Based on her achievements at Morgenhof, it seems she knows a thing or two. That said, wines that take 25 years to start opening up are surely for the freaks and geeks…

    • Grant24 June 2013

      I reckon that the starting point for being enshrined amongst the true elite of wine, on a world scale, is longevity. Not brand longevity, but that of the brand’s wines, over an extended period of time. And those wines can’t just get older, they have to evolve and improve, as the greatest wines of the old world have shown the ability to do for decades, even centuries. At some point (by this measure, well after we’ve all departed the blogosphere) you’d like to think that a South African wine or winery could be considered to belong in such a category. To start with, you at least have to believe it is possible.

  • Grant21 June 2013

    Derek, one of the discussions that ensued on the day revolved loosely around whether a wine that was unbalanced in youth would find its equilibrium at a later date. My personal view is generally not, but with an honourable mention to Penfolds Grange which seems to come into its own around the 25 year mark.

    • Derek Prout-Jones23 June 2013

      Thx for your reply Grant. I guess it’s how one defines “unbalanced”. I definitely think that prominent youth features in a wine don’t necessarily amount to being “unbalanced” but rather a function of personal taste and what one appreciates in wine. As an avid “cellarer” I seldom drink young wine but prefer the complexity and secondary flavors that develop in most “good wines”. In this regard, I have thorough enjoyed aged The Tally Cab where the fruit and oak has been superseded with spice and cigar box notes. Nonetheless, as I always say, a wine’s primary objective should be “drinkability” – young or old! Nice “chatting” and Thx again for taking the time to reply.

  • Derek Prout-Jones21 June 2013

    I am a long-time fan of the Tally. A bit of a cult wine in Aussie and historically has been made unashamedly in a rich style. Usually given a good dose of new Fr oak it does require 5-10 years for all the components to integrate. My experience is that the boldness softens into a finely balanced wine with all the dark fruit/cassis flavors that I enjoy in Cab…along with a very long wood-spice finish. My view is that it is too young now to be fully appreciated for what it has to offer in the longer term.

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