I want to talk about passion being made visible. About how it feels to give birth to the thoughts that dance around in the back of your mind. The ones that are held back by fear and practicality. And money. Everything needs money. I almost didn’t send that first round of text messages inviting my friends to the inaugural edition of #beccaswineswap that was held a year and a bit ago, one evening as the sun went down, in my little open plan living space with the balcony doors open and a bunch of us seated cross-legged on the floor because I didn’t have enough chairs.
But I did.
And oh baby, look at us now.
The final excursion of 2019 took place at Flagstone Winery in Somerset West and I can’t express how truly grateful I am to Ilze from Flagstone for taking a chance on us after joining us at the Bellevue event, quite by chance I might add. The last #beccaswineswap was the product of timing but also genuine belief in what I’m trying to accomplish. I need to stop saying that – “trying to “. I’m doing it. We’re doing it. We did it! When people in the industry actively seek to open doors for you and allow you to keep pursuing your love, it’s beautiful. So Ilze and Wilhelm, if you’re reading this, thank you.
To fully understand the Flagstone story is to appreciate the vastness of this global industry. Flagstone is winery without vineyards. This means that the award winning winemaker, Gerhard Swart aka the “King of Pinotage”, travels the length and breath of the winelands tasting and sourcing grapes. These are then transported to the winery which, fun fact, used to be a dynamite factory. There, they are crafted by Gerhard, his fancy machines and his team into the top tier elegant, award raking range of wines.
We started the afternoon with the Da Luca prosecco – peachy/apricoty on the nose, it is zesty, fresh and soft on the palate. Because Flagstone’s parent company, Accolade Wines, has its fingers in many countries, the Da Luca is a prosecco crafted in Italy and imported and distributed to the South African market through Flagstone.
Another thing that I want to share before I forget is my progress when it comes to my cheeseboard craft. Hand me my sticker, please.
I believe that what makes a wine most memorable is the story it tells. So, instead of telling you only about how the wine tasted, I’ll tell you about its naming. Each wine has a unique name and an accompanying story. The 2018 bush vine chenin blanc, aka the Tributary, is named as an ode to the many influences that birthed it – like a river. It has a strong stone fruit influence, while being crisp and minereally. (Yes, I’m inventing words). The Free Run sauvignon blanc is a cool climate, herbaceous, peppery wine with some citrus and mineral notes. It was named after the method of using only the first free-flowing, free-run juice to make it.
As I said earlier, Gerhard is known as the King of Pinotage because of the superior quality of the Flagstone Truth Tree Pinotage. Not only is pinotage unique to South Africa, but the truth Tree after which the wine is named is homage paid to the tree under which, according to Xhosa lore, you cannot tell a lie lest you unleash bad luck upon yourself and your family. This pinotage is fruity, yest still maintaining the classic oak and chocolate notes. I personally enjoyed the subtle spice on the palate.
The Cape Blend or Dragon Tree as it is called, is a blend of shiraz, cab-sav and pinotage (of course) and is named after a tree gifted to the Port Captain of Cape Town, by a passing ship’s captain over 100 years ago, which grows above what used to be Flagstone’s barrel maturation cellar at Cape Town’s V & A Waterfront. The winery moved to Somerset West in 2002.
The Music Room, Flagstone’s cab-sav, was named after Elsie Fraser-Munn, Flagstone’s Founder, Bruce Jack’s grandmother. She was a legendary music teacher and performer. The music on the bottle’s label is a choral piece composed for Elsie by the renowned South African composer, Peter Klatzow. The cab-sav is a product of practice and the excellence that often follows, much like is the mantra in music. It has beautiful dark fruit, acidity without being harsh, well rounded tannins, and it really just a perfect full bodied wine.
The Dark Horse is m y personal favourite. She’s named after the fact that shiraz grows like it wants to fly away and could intimidate “the cautious farmer” who “will mutter that nothing good will come from such a wild thing”. Gerhard has harnessed this wildness and created a truly spectacular, solid wine. Dark, the classic white pepper bit complimented buy cinnamon and what could be liquorice. She’s really a big lady that makes you pause.
It wasn’t enough that we tasting this great selection, guided by Gerhard himself, we went downstairs to sample some of the other offerings of Flagstone and I found that their Poetry – a cinsaut rosé – is exactly that, poetry. Made from a grape that I had yet to discover in the form of a rosé, it is simple, dry and elegant all in at the same time.
I love the attention to detail that this brand pays and its speaks to the direct expression of their motto, “we are born creative”. It’s one thing to make excellent wine but it takes another level of dedication to spend time and love on the outside of the bottle too.
As the year ends, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to every person who hopped on the ride with me. To each estate that collaborated with me and for every memory that was created and captured. May your holidays be filled with all the things you desire, from love, raucous laughter and rest, to excellent wine. May you spend the time intentionally, doing (or not doing) what you want to.
Love, and as always, wine
The Empress xx