Rianie Strydom, Dombeya and Haskell Vineyards and the Tri-Nations Challenge

by Charles Lea

Rianie Strydom, multi-award-winning winemaker of Dombeya and Haskell Vineyards, denied that she was competitive with her husband Louis (whose Guardian Peak ‘Lapa’ Cabernet won Champion red wine as well as four trophies at the International Wine Challenge) when she was in town last week …but she went on to add ‘but my wines are better than his’.

Louis Strydom is the winemaker for Engelbrecht Els / Ernie Els Wines, and is also responsible for Guardian Peak. The Lapa Cabernet featured as Wine of the Week on this site after the Internatonal Wine Challenge awards, and has subsequently sold out, although we hope to have more stock before Christmas. The idea behind this wine was to was to make a benchmark New World Cabernet in the style Engelbrecht and Els most enjoy.

Rianie emphasizes that her wines are much more European in style, according to her preferences, and indeed it is this which immediately converted us when we were presented with the first releases of the Dombeya wines two years ago.

Rianie was in London for the week of the 12th of October, partly for the two days of the WOSA (Wines of South Africa) tastings, but also to help reinforce the position of the Dombeya range which is rapidly gaining a fine reputation for food-friendliness amongst Lea & Sandeman’s restaurant customers.

A month earlier Rianie’s ‘Pillars’ Syrah 2007, one of the first releases of the SVS (Syrah Vineyard Series) wines from Haskell, won the medal for the top scoring Shiraz, the trophy for Best Red Wine of Show, and the Four Seasons Hotel Trophy for the Best Wine of Show at the tri-Nations Challenge in Sydney. In doing so, it became the first South African wine to be crowned the Champion wine in the competition’s thirteen year history.

Rianie Strydom, Haskell winemaker and Peter de Villiers, Springbok coach, with their individual Tri Nations silverware.

After the WOSA tastings Jancis Robinson wrote enthusiastically about all the wines, saying the Dombeya Sauvignon ‘tastes more like Sancerre than anything else, and is quite a bit cheaper than most Sancerres are at the moment’, while the Dombeya Samara 2005 (Cabernet blend – currently out of stock but due back in a month or so) is ‘Very dark and interesting. Already mellow and complete. A very slightly stern streak but it spreads across the palate admirably’, and adding ‘GV’ (Good Value) to both these notes, which also emphasize the European style which should interest customers who are followers of Lea & Sandeman taste predilections.

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