Dombeya 2009 Red releases – Our best yet ?

by Grant Dodd

Dombeya 2009 Red releases- Our best yet ?

True, you are unlikely to hear a wine producer telling their customers that their latest releases are of poor quality and unworthy of buying. And when a brand already has a recognised track record of producing high quality , award winning wines at value for money prices, ‘ best ever’ claims can be a little eyebrow raising.

But it’s a statement made with some consideration, and after looking at the way these wines have evolved and blossomed in bottle over the past couple of years. In short, when you combine the brilliant 2009 vintage with another year of experience in the vineyard and cellar (understanding of course that 2005 was our first vintage) , you end up with a set of extremely impressive wines of great purity and balance. They are, at the very least, the equal of anything that has gone before under this label.

This month coincides, for the first time, with the release of each new vintage of Dombeya, including the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and 2012 Chardonnay.

Dombeya Merlot 2009
Only a few thousand bottles were made, meaning that we could be very selective about what we used in the final blend. The 2008 Merlot received 4.5 stars in the John Platter Guide- there was only one five star Merlot that year- but in our mind 2009 is unquestionably a superior wine. Perhaps not as immediate in its appeal with regard to up front fruit, but more complete in terms of structure and balance. It’s a more classical Merlot, and one that fights well out of its weight division.

Dombeya Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Again, another small batch bottling, but also showing all the hallmarks of the great vintage, plus the benefits of a few years in bottle prior to release. To put this wine in context, the 2007 Dombeya Cabernet Sauvignon was judged equal first in South Africa in Wine Magazine’s yearly South African Cabernet judging, and this release is certainly the equal of that very fine wine.

Dombeya Boulder Road Shiraz 2009
Those that follow such things will know that we didn’t release any of our Haskell Syrah’s from 2009. Not that they were poor wines, but they just didn’t have the x-factor of the previous two years, when Haskell Pillars Syrah received 5 Stars in the Platter Guide. We’ve always maintained that the Haskell SVS wines have to be benchmarks of their style, and in 2009 this was something which we were unconvinced of.

After plenty of teeth gnashing, they were declassified. Guess where? Yes, into Boulder Road Shiraz, which presents a very compelling case for this wine in this vintage. Parcels from both Pillars Vineyard and Aeon Vineyard combined to form what is a wine of commanding personality, and still under 100 rand in price. Few wines represent such an attractive proposition when price versus quality is taken into account.

Dombeya Altus 2008
A decision was made a few years back to release our Dombeya Bordeaux blend with five years of bottle age. A costly exercise from a producer perspective, but one that would show the age-ability of this blend, and give our customers a wine that was approaching maturity, and ready to drink.

2007 was the first vintage released, and what a stellar way to begin. At its first showing, Altus 2007 won a Gold Medal at the Trophy Wine Show 2012, one of only two gold’s awarded for Bordeaux Blends at this prestigious show.

Then, after being chosen in the South African team for the Five Nations Wine Challenge, a competition pitting the finest wines of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina against each other, Altus 2007 again won a Gold Medal against wines up to ten times its price. It underlined again the stunning quality of this release.

Altus 2007 is now sold out, bringing the 2008 vintage to the market. Again, it is a similar blend in terms of proportion (Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec), and virtually indistinguishable in style. Five years of bottle age sees it developing lovely secondary, savoury characters, making it an ideal match for food. The great Australian winemaker, Robert O’Callaghan of Rockford Wines, is fond of saying that, ‘time makes wine’, and that adage once again holds true with regard to Altus 2008.

Dombeya Chardonnay 2012
For a brand that has a reputation as a red wine producer, it’s somewhat intriguing that the wine that sells out quickest every year is our Chardonnay. I’ve always held that the Dombeya Chardonnay 2006 is one of the best wines we’ve made under either label- it is a wine that continues to get better with every year in bottle. This reminds me a lot of that wine. 2012 was a stunning year for growing grapes in the Western Cape, and the season shines through here. Bright, energetic, full of verve and packed with delicious Chardonnay flavour, it is to my mind, a Dombeya Chardonnay that we will be talking about as a benchmark for the brand for many years to come.

This year is the first time we have bottled this wine under screwcap, guaranteeing its freshness, and the fact that it will mature gracefully in bottle for at least a decade given proper cellaring conditions.

Dombeya Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Also under screwcap for the first time, the 2013 edition of our Sauvignon Blanc follows the script of previous years, with explosive fruit flavours tempered by a splash of Semillon to add a little direction and food friendliness to Sauvignon’s thrust and energy. It is just one of the reason’s why Dombeya Sauvignon Blanc has made it onto the lists of world class restaurants like Quay and Tetsuya’s in Sydney, both perennially ranked in the Top 100 in the world.

It’s as exciting a line up as we’ve put out at one time under the Dombeya label, wines that we’re proud of. We trust that you will share our enthusiasm for them.


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