Wines of Personality and Complexity

As part of the world’s fifth largest wine company, Accolade Wines, and producing at least 21 different wines from 15 different vineyards, one might expect Flagstone Wines to be blandly commercial, but a recent tasting with winemaker Gerhard Swart reveals wines of personality and complexity.

Flagstone was one of South Africa’s first wineries with no vineyards, and Swart said he has been working closely with a core group of 15 farmers for at least 10 years, giving him insight into the specific terroir and character of each and enabling him to make wines that reflect the Flagstone motto of “We Are Born Creative”.

Tasting wines with the guy who makes them, is always an interesting experience, revealing far more about what’s in the bottle than a back label ever could.

The Writer’s Block Pinotage, for example, is made more interesting when you know that its leathery, savoury, spicy qualities come from a single block high up in the Waaihoek Mountains – so high that it needs electric fencing to keep the baboons off.

A regular in the Absa Top 10 Pinotage, it’s part of the top-end Flagstone Icons range (priced around R280) along with the classically styled Music Room Cabernet Sauvignon and plummy, smooth, nuanced Dark Horse Shiraz, all three with 4.5 stars in Platter’s.

TOASTING THE YOUNG: Flagstone winemaker Gerhard Swart, along with his team of Willene Bester and Mia Boonzaier, took home the trophy for 2019’s overall best South African young wine at the SA Young Wine Show, dating back to 1833 and one of the world’s oldest wine shows


The Poetry range offers accessible easy-drinking wine (R60 to R80) – the chardonnay unwooded says Swart so that it shows citrusy freshness with just a touch of butteriness – a good choice if you’re still flirting, but not yet in love, with chardonnay.

In the middle Core range (R90 to R125 for “premium wines at competitive prices”), Two Roads Chardonnay has a similar flavour profile to the Poetry, but it’s wooded and a step up in terms of interest and complexity of flavours.

Dragon Tree Cape Blend is another of Swart’s pride and joy wines – it’s gained a cult following apparently.

Ripe, rich and dark, with bountiful fruit and spicy depth, it’s not surprising to hear that this is the wine that the Flagstone winemaking team buys the most for their own homes.

Back to the “lifestyle” white wines, Noon Gun is a blend of chenin, sauvignon blanc and viognier, the components creating a happy marriage of tropical fruit, zesty freshness and a touch of aromatic spice, with a lightly textured mouthfeel.

This would be my pick for a well-priced (R65-ish) and versatile wine with food or solo.

Free Run Sauvignon Blanc, an FNB Top 10 winner in 2018, similarly takes things up a notch, blending grapes sourced from the cool climes of Elim and Elgin for green freshness, flintiness and herbaceousness. Some skin contact on pressing, gives it complexity – and Swart said it still drinks beautifully after eight to 10 years.

[article by Sam Venter – Weekend Post South Africa]