Flagstone Writer’s Block Pinotage has long been one of the more accomplished versions of the variety for me. Conceived by Bruce Jack, it’s Wine of Origin Breedekloof – grapes come from a 3.5ha block on the Waaihoek Mountains between Ceres and Worcester.
Now comes Flagstone Time Manner Place Pinotage 2010, Jack’s efforts to take the variety to an even higher level. “I wanted to make one of the best wines in the world and make it from Pinotage”, he says. “It’s like not only wanting to climb Kilimanjaro but hang-glide down afterwards”.
The top of this Breedekloof vineyard is on blue shale –better drained than the rest where red, clay-rich soils predominate. “The grapes have less water and are subject to more of a battering from the wind – they’re more stressed and ripen quickly and evenly. It’s a very unusual corner of the universe,” he says.
In the cellar, the wine underwent spontaneous fermentation, 40% whole berries, in open-top barrels, 100% new. It’s then matured for 18 months in second-fill American oak barrels.
Set to sell for around R800 a bottle, Time Manner Place 2010 is already causing a stir. UK wine writer Matthew Jukes referred to it on Twitter as “a sublime work of art and a paradigm shift for Pinotage”. His colleague Jamie Goode meanwhile found it “powerfully aromatic” and “firmly structured” before noting that it “isn’t just about sweet fruit: there’s also a strongly savoury, mineral dimension here” and scored it 92-94/100 (see full review here).
My view is that Time Manner Place 2010 is “international”, it’s defining character being it’s ravishing fruit – concentrated red and black cherry. It’s plush, not lacking in tannic grip, but these tannins are very fine. Thankfully, there’s nice bright acidity and though obviously from ultra-ripe fruit, you’d be hard-pressed to describe the wine as lacking in verve. It’s an extremely compelling vision of what Pinotage can be but I wonder if it isn’t a little too perfect – to paraphrase Leonard Cohen, “It’s the cracks that let the light through”. Score: 17/20.