Yesterday Haskell Vineyards took us through a tasting of its latest vintages of its Single Vineyard Series, and introduced us to its newest addition to the Series, being the Haskell Hades Syrah 2014. The tasting was held over lunch at La Mouette.

We were welcomed with the Dombeya Chardonnay 2015, a sister brand which is part of the Haskell Vineyards portfolio, and which sports a label change. We had exclusive use of the upstairs section of the restaurant, and canapés of tuna tartare, rye taco, Fromage Blanc, and coriander were offered, with the signature croquettes and aioli. Mari and Chef Henry Vigar welcomed the guests, and Chef Henry speedread the menu to us. I was extremely grateful to Chef Henry and his team in catering for my dietary requirements. 

Haskell Vineyards CEO Grant Dodd welcomed us too, and announced the Haskell Single Vineyard Series addition of Haskell Hades Syrah 2014 to the range, already existing of Haskell Pillars Syrah, Haskell Aeon Syrah, and Haskell Anvil Chardonnay. The Single Vineyard Series grew from the recognition that the Haskell Aeon and Pillars Syrahs were so exceptional and so different, reflecting the terroirs on which they are grown. 

Winemaker Rianie Strydom spoke about Haskell Hades Syrah, a wine made through dedicated perseverance and persistence, saying that ‘Good things take time’. The Hades name reflects ‘the allusion of hell with the site being one of the most difficult places to grow grapes in the country…’. To create the Vineyard, 180 tonnes of rock was removed when the vines were planted in 2007. 

She said that the Vineyard has matured extremely slowly, but now produces small quantities of ‘eminent quality Syrah‘, bottled for the first time in 2014. She added that ‘Hades is the perfect ending to a nine yearlong tale of distinct and exceptional terroir. It is a tale of perseverance and persistence of beauty and aroma and a perfect conclusion to the Single Vineyard Series’. Haskell Hades was described as having black pepper, sweet violets, and fresh plum notes on the nose, with the palate expressing a Sweet and sour balance of dried plums and a savory finish. The Haskell Single Vineyard Series Hades 2014 costs R320. 

A walnut and seed roll was offered to each guest, with smoked butter, sprinkled with ash, and a reduced beef butter. 

The first course was Fontina (Italian cow’s milk cheese) Raviolis, served with a butter emulsion and Parmesan crumb. It was paired with Haskell Anvil Chardonnay 2015, a wine which was made from one of the oldest Chardonnay Vineyards (29 years old) in the country. The wine has received a number of 5-stars in the Platter Guides, and was named after the Anvil shape of the Vineyard seen from above. Rianie described it as an ‘unadorned‘ wine. She said that her goal is to make a Chardonnay ‘to last for a long time’.

Haskell Hades Syrah 2014, an elegant style wine, was paired with a medium-rare Chalmar sirloin, an unusual crispy bone marrow, cauliflower purée, and a Café au lait sauce. 

It was a spoil to be served a second meat course, being a roasted lamb loin, served with aubergine purée, salsa verde, potato gnocchi, and house-made ricotta cheese. An even bigger spoil was to have the dish paired with two Haskell Pillars Syrah, the chilled 2007 vintage receiving ohs and ahs from all at my table, having been described as a ‘wine which jumped out of the glass‘. It was also paired with the 2013 vintage. The wine is named after three columns at the entrance to the wine estate, and the first vines in the 0,85 ha vineyard were planted in 2002. It has less stone in its soil, and was previously a horse paddock.  It is an exceptional wine, and in 2008 it won Best Wine of Show at the Tri Nations Challenge, the first South African wine to do so. 

Dessert was one with a difference, receiving a favorable comment at our table about how nice it was to have a non-Sweet ending to the meal. The Haskell Aeon Syrah 2013 was paired with aged Dalewood Superlatif Brie, slow roasted plums, plum purée, filo crisps, and a port reduction. The Syrah was named after ancient decomposed granite and sandstone soils forming the basis of the Helderberg range. Rianie described it as a ‘masculine Syrah‘, grown 320 meters above sea level. 

Cappuccino and coffee orders were taken, concluding a lovely lunch with excellent food, outstanding wines (the Haskell Pillars 2007 in particular), and good company. 

Disclosure: We received a triple Syrah pack of Haskell wines, with Haskell Aeon 2012, Haskell Hades 2014, and Haskell Pillars 2012, all part of the Single Vineyards Series. 

Haskell Vineyards, Annandale Road, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 881-3895 Twitter: @Haskells Instagram: @ haskellvineyards

La Mouette, 78 Regent Road, Sea Point. Tel (021) 433-0856. Twitter: @TeamLaMouette Instagram: @_la_mouette

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein