The Mullineux 2017 Single Terroir Syrahs continue to be brilliant, singular expressions of not only Swartland Syrah but also SA Syrah. With over a decade of dedication to Syrah in the Swartland,…

The Mullineux 2017 Single Terroir Syrahs continue to be brilliant, singular expressions of not only Swartland Syrah but also SA Syrah. With over a decade of dedication to Syrah in the Swartland, and considering the consistency and track record across their various bottlings, Chris and Andrea Mullineux are possibly SA’s best Syrah producers today.

At the cutting-edge of SA fine wine, the Mullineuxs have received many ground-breaking awards and, since 2007, have focused their Swartland efforts on Syrah and Chenin Blanc. Their extensive knowledge of Swartland soils, and what Andrea calls a ‘growing technical maturity‘, has consistently led to the release of some of the most definitive expressions of the Swartand’s various terroirs. Produced in minute quantities, these are must-have, collectors’ wines.

2017 is shaping up to be a remarkable vintage and to single out one of the Mullineux’s 2017 Single Terroir Syrahs would be futile. The 2017 ‘Roundstone’ Schist Syrah, from the shale and schist Kasteelberg, has great depth, incredible freshness and an exciting nervous energy. The 2017 Granite Syrah is from a sustainably farmed, 23-year-old parcel in the Paardeberg and offers crunchy red fruit over fresh tannins with lifted florals at the start. The 2017 Iron Syrah, from a single 18-year-old vineyard, is the best to date with beautiful perfume leading on to a meaty, savoury power with great fruit density and fine, gravelly and serious tannins.

The Chenins are impressive, poised and beautifully measured in 2018. The 2018 Granite Chenin Blanc is floral with a flinty, linear and fresh finish, while the 2018 ‘Leliefontein’ Quartz Chenin Blanc abounds with citrus blossom, textured stone fruit and a lingering, saline finish. Like the Syrahs, they were tasted alongside older vintages which not only made it clear that these new releases will be long-lived but how the fine sensibility, in both the vineyard and cellar, guarantees wines of great character and quality for years to come.

Tasting notes:

Mullineux, Granite Syrah 2017
The 2017 Granite Syrah is typically bright and fresh, assertively perfumed (floral & spicy), sleekly muscular, with balanced acid and tannin accentuating each other. – Tim James

Mullineux, Iron Syrah 2017
The Iron Syrah (particularly small volumes in the drought years because of the soil structure) is always the showiest of the three: rich, meaty, chocolatey aromas, the palate denser, the fruit obviously intense. So it is in 2017, though I enjoyed this wine more than I usually do – perhaps because it seemed more drily tannic, with a sterner affect than usual. – Tim James

Mullineux, Schist Syrah ‘Roundstone’ 2017
Schist Syrah Roundstone is always less immediately expressive in youth, but you sense great volumes lurking there. The tannic structure is broader and richer and simply bigger than the Granite version, the musculature more chunky. – Tim James

Mullineux, Granite Chenin Blanc 2018
Mullineux Granite Chenin Blanc comes off two Paardeberg vineyards. Again it’s notably bright, with a lemony acidity, and a green element that is not unripeness at all – more a yellow-green, like a greengage. There’s real concentration and density in the wine, giving an austerity and intensity that wants at least a few years in the bottle to start mellowing. – Tim James

Mullineux, Quartz Chenin Blanc ‘Leliefontein’ 2018
Quartz Leliefontein (from the other great Swartland mountain, Kasteelberg) came as something of a relief: fine, but less tense; broader, more outgoing, the core of sweet fruit (more yellow, peachy) more obvious in youth. Yet its charm also has a vital finesse. – Tim James


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