Haskell Vineyards – A rising star in Stellenbosch, Part III



Have you followed my posts on Haskell Vineyards and Dombeya Wines? If not; please do! Even better; taste the wines! Rianie Strydom has proven her skills in creating excellent wines at reasonable prices and today I was given the chance to check out the premium wines signed Rianie. And meet her in person!

Rianie is such an easy person to talk to; non-coquettish, comprehensive (you know what I mean Rianie!) and humble. It’s like I’ve met her before. Rianie gives me a tasting of the wines I haven’t had the opportunity to sample yet; the award winning 2007 Pillars Syrah, the 2007 Aeon Syrah and the new project – the Bordeaux blend 2007 Haskell IV.


Before checking out my tasting notes on the wines please note these are all limited production wines at the moment. Don’t let this discourage your attempts in finding a bottle – it’s simply worth the struggle!

Tasting note on the 2007 Haskell Vineyards Pillars Syrah

Finally I get to taste the acclaimed Pillars! 2007 is Rianie’s debut and the Syrah from a vineyard around 200 meters above sea level is only planted in 2002. That obviously, is worth keeping in mind when talking about old vines versus young. For a closer look on the terroir details visit the website.

Dark red color. Restrained bouquet with notes of cherries, currant, a lovely violet scent, pepper, meat and careful oak treatment. There’s plenty of stuffing on the nose just waiting to explode. Although it indicates it’s ready for consumption the taste indicates another thing. Sure, the tannins are velvety but at the same time compact. The fruitiness is classy and both restrained and seductive at the same time. Violets, cherries, a touch of raspberries, pepper, bayleafs, humus and toasted oak. Great concentration although elegance is the wine’s trademark. Awesome length with pure seductive fruit. Perhaps it is good I don’t have any bottles of this one? I would have popped it way too early! Ten years is probably no match for the Pillars. (94 points)

Tasting note on the 2007 Aeon Syrah

More clay in the soil here and hence another style of wine compared to the Pillars. Also, Rianie adds 5% Mourvedre to the Aeon. More new oak is also used, 65%, but still, it’s not a wine dominated by the barriques – not even at youth!

Darker red color. At first confusing, Rianie suspects bottle schock, but slowly it regains. I would love to try a bottle in better condition to fully comment on the Aeon, but no doubt there was a lot going on in this. Compact fruit, more dark berries to it, white pepper, funkier nose but still with that fine violet scent, reminiscent of a Northern Rhone Syrah. Less elegant than the Pillars, this has a more generous structure, rougher tannins but is still a really good wine. Humus and blackberries on the palate, backed up by sweet licorice, violets and pepper. Long finish. (92 points with reservation due to an bottle schocked Aeon)

Tasting note on the 2007 Haskell IV

The IV is the latest addition to the Haskell portfolio and consists of classic Bordeaux grapes. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot was planted in 1999, Cabernet Franc 2001 and the Petit Verdot in 2000. The topography varies from around 170 meters to 320 meters above sea level. 10 barriques produced and please, do what you can to pick up a bottle or two!

Dark red color. Good bye Bordeaux! Give me some more of this! Restrained but classic Bordeaux nose with scents of blackcurrants, lead pencil, newly cut grass, leather, humus and toasted oak. A great nose, still youthful, but with so many layers. Awesome tannin structure backed up by ecqually impressive fruitiness and an acidity giving the wine the necessary backbone. Blackcurrants, dark cherries, leather, grass and violets in the taste. Careful oak treatment. Great
finish. Love it! (93 points)

All three are wines with personality and although I do keep the Pillars as the best in show it’s hard to ask an old Bordeaux addict not to pick the Haskell IV as favorite!

Will there be a part four? You bet! I will keep on watching Haskell with great interest and oh, yes – of course there will be a next part. I have to visit!

Rianie rocks!

All wines were made possible for me to try thanks to the Swedish importer; Kajsa Wines.

PS. The high solution quality pictures are shown with the friendly permission of Haskell Vineyards. The crappy pictures of the wine bottles are shot by a true amateur in stress. 

  • Vintresserad

    >Hi Niklas, two questions:
    1. If I remember correctly, you are quite sensitive to the "burnt rubber / bakelite" smell often found in South African reds. Any hint of this in the Haskell wines? If not – any idea why?
    2. I checked the "Kajsa Wines" website – but no info on the Haskell wines… any idea about pricing and availability at Systembolaget? -Best regards – Vintresserad

  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >I can't stand the burnt rubber and it ruins a wine in my opinion. But there is none of it in Haskell/Dombeya!

    Check out the answer from Grant in my first post:


    Maybe it's due to Rianie's more european approach, the fact she likes to use natural yeast or don't produce reductive wines (or all together) but they are all impressive wines that suits an european palate.

    Start with the Dombeya Chardonnay. A much better wine for that price is hard to find. The Haskell premium wines are difficult to finsd due to the limited production. Kajsa had only 48 bottles of the Pillars for example. They all went to restaurants who bought the lot! Around 55 euro's a bottle (550 SEK roughly).

    When I met her this week she told me she will get allt three mentioned here. Hopefully so everyone can order. Think the Aeon would be at 40 Euro's, the Pillars and IV at 55. Believe me, they're worth it!

  • Rickard

    >Lysande slut i Haskell/Dombeya-trilogin. Jag har provat Chardonnay, Cabernet och Shiraz från Dombeya och de var lysande för sin prisklass. Jag är otroligt nyfiken på vinerna från Haskell, inte minst efter att ha läst detta.

  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >Tack Rickard!


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