Wine Enthusiast’s 2016 Winemaker of the Year, Andrea Mullineux and her husband Chris have just launched their game changing Leeu Passant wines. Produced from old vines, including the oldest registered red wine vineyard in South Africa, these wines redefine the South African wine landscape. From the great 2015 vintage, all three are set to last for decades.
The two Chardonnays are world beaters. Finely crafted and uniquely South African, there is no sense of emulation here, just the pursuit of the very best South Africa can offer. The Leeu Passant Elandskloof Chardonnay 2015 is modern, pure fruited and elegant in style with a broad texture and detailed acidity. Grown at a high altitude, the positive diurnal range contributes to the perfect conditions for Chardonnay. The Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2015 on the other hand, is one of the most powerful we have tasted. Lime, seashells and blossoms lead to a vibrant, zingy and lingering finish – a wine that should last for decades. Produced from two parcels on the Helderberg, this is a new SA benchmark.
Since 2013, Chris and Andrea Mullineux have been working on a new project that focuses on vineyards outside of the Swartland appellation specially selected by Rosa Kruger. Together with their partner Analijt Singh, the culmination of this project is the Leeu Passant Dry Red Wine 2015. Inspired by past successes from the 50s, 60s and 70s, like Chateau Libertas and Rustenberg Dry Red, Chris and Andrea have created a fine wine shaped from Cabernet Sauvignon and old vine Cinsaut, including a remarkable 117-year-old vineyard planted in 1900. This is a masterful reinvention of what great South African red should be. The Cabernet Sauvignon adds structure and acidity, the Cinsaut lends perfume and fruit, and the Cabernet Franc imparts fine tannins, spice and savouriness. A world class red wine that speaks of South Africa’s heritage and brings the unique wines of the past into the future.
Leeu Passant, Elandskloof Chardonnay 2015
Matured for 12 months in 228-litre barrels, 30% new. The nose shows some reduction as well as a delicate floral note, pear, green apple and citrus plus a hint of vanilla. Pure fruit, fresh acidity and a pithy finish – appears light notwithstanding an alcohol of 14%, the oak very well integrated. – Christian Eedes, 92/100
Leeu Passant, Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2015
Matured for 12 months in 228-litre barrels, 30% new. A dramatic yet beautifully poised wine. Citrus blossom, lemon and orange plus spice on the nose. Huge fruit concentration and driving acidity (total acidity is an astounding 8.1 g/l). Layers and layers of flavour. – Christian Eedes, 95/100
Leeu Passant, Dry Red Wine 2015
36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc, 31% Cinsaut. The first two varieties from Stellenbosch, the latter jointly from a Wellington vineyard planted in 1900 and a Franschhoek vineyard planted in the 1930s. Matured for 18 months in a combination of 225-litre and 500-litre barrels, 25% new. An enticing nose of violets, musk, fresh herbs, cherries, red currant and plums plus earth and spice. Pure fruit, fresh acidity and super-fine yet still appropriately grippy tannins, the finish long and bone-dry. Super-sophisticated – carefully crafted yet still possessing a certain sense of playfulness. An effort to express SA reds of yesteryear to best effect, to quote Andrea Mullineux. – Christian Eedes, 95/100