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After 30 years it's time to roll with the flow

Flowstone Wine owner Stuart Pym's new label shows the relationship of the moisture from the soil in the vineyard and in Lake Cave. Picture: Becky Felstead

For much of his 30-plus years in wine Stuart Pym has been "rollin' with the flow". And whether Charlie Rich's dulcet tones were actually ringing in his ears, they seem most apt to describe Pym's successful journey from his earliest years in Margaret River to his latest, perhaps appropriately named venture, Flowstone.

For Pym, it all started in 1983 when he moved to Margaret River to help his parents in their vineyard and winery called Sussex Vale in the heart of Wilyabrup.

I recall visiting a very young Pym at the time and him offering me a wine he described as a light drinking red but which I thought was closer to a Barossa shiraz. He's come a long way since then.

Sussex Vale was subsequently sold and Pym moved into the bigger league, initially as winemaker at Voyager Estate and then Devil's Lair over 17 years before starting the highly successful Suckfizzle and Stella Bella brands. In the late 80s he also worked as a brewer with Phil Sexton's Matilda Bay Brewing Company.

Flowstone has been quietly sitting in the background as Pym gradually reduced his involvement in Stella Bella and Suckfizzle, which have now been sold. After its gradual gestation he reckons it's about time to bring Flowstone to the world.

Pym describes Flowstone as the "distillation of 30 years of winemaking and the unbridled passion for great wine of Phil Giglia", his partner in business.

"The planting of the Flowstone vineyard has mirrored my parents' activities of the late 70s, and releasing the Flowstone brand, and committing to it full-time in 2013, completes a 30-year family circle," he said.

For Giglia, the journey into wine began at the UWA Wine Club, and took him through a period at George Street Cellars, before he emerged as a fully fledged wine tragic.

The Flowstone vineyard is tiny with just 2.25ha planted at Forest Grove, about 17km south of the Margaret River township. The initial planting of chardonnay was in 2004, the year after the property was purchased and the rest of a little more chardonnay and cabernet in 2009.

According to Pym, the reason for planting in this southern part of Margaret River was its capacity to produce chardonnay of purity, restraint and poise, and cabernet sauvignon of finesse, perfume, structure and varietal signature.

He maintains the vineyard is a key part of the Flowstone style and, while he doesn't conform to any specific viticultural practice, he does follow an approach that relies on observation, judgment and experience with high levels of organic matter in the soil and minimal synthetic chemical usage, all aimed at retaining and fostering good vine balance.

For Pym, the fundamental driver in the Flowstone style has been to make wines that he likes to drink.

"I think I have been in this business long enough to know a little about how to make wines and importantly how to make wines that I like to drink," he said. "The wines of Flowstone are based around great vineyard sites and making wines that are interesting and enjoyable."

At this stage the Flowstone vineyard makes an important contribution to the wines but he also sources fruit from other sites in the region with the aim of producing distinctive and drinkable wines.

"The sauvignon blanc is a classic example. Ours is not the bright passionfruity immediate style of wine widely available but a more focused and palate-oriented wine."

In addition to the chardonnay and cabernet, other wines include an interesting gewurztraminer and a quirky cabernet touriga blend, which brings a little Portuguese tweak to the style, consistent with his mantra to make wines that are pleasing to drink.

Pym's top-end cabernet is a really interesting take on this variety in Margaret River.

In this case it is sourced from an established vineyard in Wilyabrup and spends three years in oak barrels.

The quirky thing is that it doesn't show excessive oak character and retains a more medium weight with integrated oak and tannin.

It is a striking reflection of Pym's desire to do something different to produce wine styles he likes to drink.

The wines are just starting to hit the market now and are available at Swanbourne Cellars, Grand Cru Wine Shop, Must, Trustee, Osteria dei Sapori, The Terrace Lounge and in Margaret River at Settlers, Swings and Margaret River Regional Wine Centre.

'I think I

have been in this business long enough to know a little about how to make wines and importantly how to make wines that I like to drink.'