Flaxman wines are, if nothing else, beautifully packaged. Pete Caton has created the design, and lovely it is too, but the words are also well chosen and applied, something I wish I felt more often about wine labels. It’s all quite artisanal and cuddly in equal measure. The wine itself is made from purchased grapes (hence “The Stranger”).
The nose is slow to emerge from its shell. At first, I got a bit of stressed stalk and old oak, which has in time given way to quite dense red and black berry fruit. It’s not the most expressive nose — not right now, anyway — though it seems to express a coherent character in its low-key way. It’s almost as if there’s a whole aroma profile in there relaxing in shaded comfort.
The palate makes complete sense of the nose, bringing what is merely suggested by the aroma into full sun. It’s also luxuriously textured. The entry shows dense, dark fruit, liqueur-like in expression and elevated in deliciousness. It also establishes a charismatic textural presence, with velvet-like tannins appearing almost instantly, weaving in and out of a fine acid line. It’s a deliciously sour, orange-juice acid that risks disrupting the more voluptuous aspects of the wine’s flavour profile, but which in the end just serves to keep things fresh and shapely. The middle palate is pure luxe, lashes of fruit flavour flowing over the tongue. There’s perhaps a hint of overripe fruit here, tending towards a prune flavour. No matter. This is a sensual wine; satin sheets and chocolates and all that implies. A decent finish rounds the experience off with a gentle taper, neither too dry nor simple.
A really lovely wine with serious “x factor,” particularly impressive considering the difficult vintage.