Dragon Tree Cape Blend 2016
Dragon Tree is Flagstone’s cult wine, this underground blend garners more favour from our wine making team than any other produced by Flagstone. Consistent tannin structures and a fruit burst on finish reveals this unmistakable wine’s French influence.
The Flagstone Dragon Tree Cape Blend is our underground, revolution wine. This is the one wine in our range that we can confidently describe as a cult wine. It has been so more or less since its first release in 2000. It’s the wine the winemaking team buys more of than any other. Enough said.
The unmistakable wild berry Pinotage aromas and juicy flavours are only a small portion of its specific character. The real secret Pinotage gives in a blend is a burst of fruit on the finish – in the same way old vine Grenache can do to Rhone blends.
Why the Cult Status?
I think what makes Dragon Tree such a successful, cult wine is the tannin structure. We earmark specific vineyards for Dragon Tree. They all have one thing in common – lots of stone and rock in the soil. We believe this contributes to a very specific tannin feel. When we taste through the red barrels once a month, we can often pick out the vineyards because of this.
The result is a blend of different varieties, but from similar soil. This ensures the tannin structure remains gorgeously consistent from year to year. Of all our wines, this has the most French influence, as it is the tannin of great Gigondas wines that we like to see reflected in our Dragon Tree.
Hugging an Old Soldier
When travelling in France with my wife many, many years ago, I spotted this beautiful village half way up a mountain. It somehow looked familiar, so although we were running late to get to our gite for the night, we took a little detour and headed up the slope. As we approached the village, the vines became older and more gnarly. At one stage I had to stop, get out of the car, and hug one old soldier vine, for he was so magnificent. The soil became more quartz-rich and rocky as we climbed, and I started salivating at the thought of the wines these vines must pass into our world.
We soon entered the centre of the village and I felt weirdly sure I had been there before - it seemed strangely familiar. As far as I could remember none of my youthful, but rather drunken, rugby tours had been to France, so it was a mystery.
Delicious Tannin Structure
The village turned out to be Gigondas. The wines (back then in the early 1990s) were a mixed bag. Many had basic winemaking faults, but beneath that there was an undeniable deliciousness in the tannin structure. The really good wines were fascinating.
I remember sitting there after the fifth or sixth wine and thinking that this tannin felt like how the first morning rays of sun dry the dew off a desert succulent on a windless morning. The chill of night snaps into warmth. Your mood lightens. You pull on a hat in anticipation and gape at the glory of that quality of light seeping into your eyes. The sand at your feat, the iron-rock koppie, the sparse, tenacious vegetation seem to move as the light brushes across the vast emptiness of sky. It was a turning point for me as a winemaker. The tannins somehow belonged to Africa. It’s fun when tannins can do that to you.
Mouthfeel that Keeps on Feeling
There and then, I wanted to capture that beguiling and yummy tannin sensation in a South African wine – it seemed to fit. After years of experimentation, I was somewhat amazed to discover, the key was Pinotage – a cool South African variety, that when blended with the right dance partners can stretch the mouthfeel of a wine past the end of your pallet and into your soul.
If you don’t believe me do this simple experiment. Buy any red wine from any country and then buy a bottle of Dragon tree. I don’t care how expensive or cheap or alcoholic or mamby-coloured the other wine is – it doesn’t seem to matter. Then order take-aways from yourfavouritesushi restaurant and yourfavouriteIndian restaurant. Sounds weird… we haven’t even begun.
Plate out all the dishes on a table and in front put a glass of Dragon Tree and a glass of The Pretender. Take a mouthful of sushi (the more wasabi, the better) and then sip of each combatant wine. Raise your eyes in amazement – red wine isn’t meant to go with fish – but Dragon Tree is an amazing foil to raw fish, wasabi and rice. Then take a mouthful of nice hot North Indian curry. Try the other wine out of respect for the game. Then take a sip of Dragon Tree. Try it. You’ll only understand what I mean once you have. Again, it’s the Pinotage and the very special tannin structure. It makes curries sparkle. The wine is quite extraordinary. I am continually amazed at how cool this funky blend is. I love it.
Welcome to the cult, amigos.
What’s in a Name?
The wine takes its name from a Dragon Tree (Genus: Dracaena) given to the Port Captain of Cape Town, by a passing ship's captain over 100 years ago, which grows above what used to be our barrel maturation cellar in the Waterfront. Our winery moved to Somerset west in 2002.
This incredible old tunnel was built by an ingenious rouge of an engineer, and was utilised to ferry stone more efficiently from the local quarry (now a very posh Marina development) during the construction of the Cape Town Harbour breakwater.
Trees Traded for Prime Berths
Before this tunnel was cut and the breakwater established to protect vessels from the devastating north-westerly wind, competition for prime berths in the dock was unscrupulous. Among savvy Ship’s Captains at the time it was known that an exotic plant gifted to the powerful Cape Town Harbour Master would ensure a well-positioned berth; hence the presence of this ancient species of tree.
Canary Island Native
Originally from the Canary Islands this tree has blood red sap, with known medicinal usage.
Legend tells of a wicked Dragon who sat at the Pillars of Hercules and blasted ships with lashings of fire as they sailed past. Eventually she was mortally wounded by some forgotten hero and flew forlornly off to sea to die. Only where her blood landed on earth (on a few remote islands and around the edge of the Mediterranean) do Dragon Trees grow.
Although a foreign tree, the tale of Cape TownHarbour’sDragon Tree captures the spirit of a formative era in Cape Town’s history.
Rich, ruby red.
There is a mixture of rich dark fruit, cigar box and minty aroma’s with well balanced wood. Sweet and spicy undertones gives this wine great depth.
This wine is well balanced on the palate showing fresh and crisp acidity. The middle palate shows an explosion of fruit, leaving a lingering aftertaste.
16-18 months in 82% American and 18% French oak barrels.
Enjoy now or keep for 3-5 years.
Love For Dragon Tree Cape Blend 2016
- Double Gold 2014 Michelangelo International Wine Awards
- Silver 2014 Mundus Vini International Wine Awards
- 4 Stars 2013 John Platter Wine Guide
- 4 Stars 2011 John Platter Wine Guide
- Gold 2011 Mundus Vini International Wine Awards
- Silver (Best in Class) 2011 IWSC
- 37% Pinotage
- 35% Shiraz
- 21% Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2% Pinot Noir
- 2% Mourvedre
- 1% Malbec
- 1% Merlot
Perfect with smoked impala carpaccio served with a roasted beetroot, strawberry, watercress and balsamic salad or serve with seared tuna with pak choi in a sesame-soy dressing.
This wine is bound to make any camping trip more memorable than any other, with a fire rustling in the background and the dim sounds of the beetles crackling on , there is only one wine that can truly make the moment perfect. On the other hand Dragon Tree is also the best accompaniment to your favourite Sushi restaurant for that special dinner that is so long overdue.
- Alcohol 14.5%
- Residual Sugar 3.6 g/l
- Total Acid 5.9 g/l
- pH 3.46