Needing no introduction, this powerhouse winemaking team continues on their upward trajectory. At the cutting-edge of SA fine wine, the Mullineuxs have, since 2007, focused their Swartland efforts on Syrah and Chenin Blanc. Their extensive knowledge of Swartland soils as well as their growing winemaking prowess, have led to the release of some of the most consistent, definitive expressions of the Swartand’s various terroirs. These wines are all about the soils they are grown in and tell a unique story of vintage and place.
The 2019 Mullineux single-terroir Chenins are particularly fine from a stand-out vintage and the 2018 single-terroir Syrahs continue to be brilliant and even better than the exceptional 2017s. Wines like these are not about scores – they are the most emphatic set of single-terroirs releases to date.
From the stunning 2019 vintage, the two Chenins are poised with brilliant energy and that crystalline 2019 stamp. The 2019 Granite Chenin Blanc is particularly defined with a superb, linear acidity that would not be out of place in Burgundy! It is just remarkable. From a single vineyard, the 2019 ‘Leliefontein’ Quartz Chenin Blanc is the more inviting and seductive of the two and abounds with honey blossom and white stone fruit. To our minds, these are the Mullineuxs’ best Chenins to date.
The Mullineux single-terroir Syrahs are impressive in 2018; each with its own distinct character. These are all highly-rated but scores can never tell the full story, so it is best to follow your favourite or try them all. The 2018 ‘Roundstone’ Schist Syrah, from the shale and schist Kasteelberg, has brooding dark fruit laced with hints of blood orange and meat spice. It has a chalky, powdery base that makes for a chiselled finish. The 2018 Granite Syrah is from a sustainably-farmed, 20-plus-year-old parcel in the Paardeberg and offers juicy black fruit, juxtaposed by a crushed stone core with awesome length and impressive structure. The 2018 Iron Syrah, from iron-rich, organically-farmed Malmesbury vineyards, tops the stellar 2017. Always the most full-bodied, there is greater complexity to this release with delicious, powerful tannins.
These new releases will be long-lived and the fine sensibility, in both the vineyards and the cellar, will guarantee wines of great character and quality for years to come.
Mullineux, Granite Chenin Blanc 2019
A hint of flinty reduction before pear, white peach, green apple, herbs and spice on the nose. The palate is lean in the best sense with pure fruit, fresh acidity and a saline finish. Elegant and energetic. – Christian Eedes, 95/100
While yields in 2018 were decimated by the drought, down by up to -80%, the 2019 season also suffered a -30% reduction in yields resulting in another vintage with a dense glycerol texture, depth and intensity of fruit. The 2019 Granite is certainly classically proportioned displaying all the intense liquid minerality, crushed gravel and granitic spice that is so typical of the finest terroir wines grown on ancient decomposed granitic soils. With this minerality come layer upon layer of complex dried green herbs, green apple bon bon rock candy, crunchy white peach and salty, briney notes of a Cape west coast sea breeze. But unlike some previous vintages, this wine not only displays an incredibly piercing nervous acidity, picante white citrus and crunchy green fennel notes, it also impresses with an unbelievably expressive glycerol palate concentration with intricate notes of quince, greengage, rock salt and pear puree. With one of the highest total acidities yet registered for this cuvee, combined with its mind blowing depth of fruit, this is going to make Chenin collectors shiver with excitement. Drink from release and enjoy this wine’s evolution over 20+ years. – Greg Sherwood MW, 97+/100
Mullineux, Quartz Chenin Blanc Leliefontein 2019
The nose shows yellow fruit plus a funky leesy note – bee’s wax comes to mind. The palate meanwhile is creamy in texture with coated acidity and a gently savoury finish. Broader and a little more rustic than its counterpart above. – Christian Eedes, 93/100
Tasting the Quartz Chenin Blanc with the Mullineuxs recently, Chris described how their customers are finely divided by their preferences for either the tension and minerality of the Granite Chenin Blanc and the broader, richer, more texturally opulent Quartz Chenin Blanc which almost resembles a 1er Cru Meursault in character with overt flesh and opulence, a broad mouthfeel and a focused concentration of white citrus and green orchard fruits. The aromatics are certainly as expressive as the best wines out of the Swartland with clear, defined aromas of crunchy green apples, white pear pastille and a thrilling melange of orange peel and naartjie zest all under pinned by a chain gang dusty crushed rock minerality. The palate is fabulously crystalline and pure with a slightly saline green melon and granny smith apple concentration and a cool, fine focused finish that suggests plenty of textural generosity. Drink from release and over the next 8 to 10+ years. – Greg Sherwood MW, 96/100
Mullineux, Schist Syrah Roundstone 2018
A wonderfully complex nose of red and black berries, olive, lavender, fynbos and spice. The palate is extraordinarily vivid with great fruit definition, bright acidity and fine tannins. It’s a very direct, complete wine that should age well over many years. – Christian Eedes, 98/100
While the Mullineuxs are adamant that the Schist Syrah is always one of the most structured wines out of their single terroir reds range, the density and structure always seems to translate into extreme finesse, plush concentration and a seductive elegance, making this one of the most sought after cuvees by the “man in the street.” But like all great fine wines, when supreme quality is present, these wines can be drunk literally from the barrel with equal pleasure offered in youth as with bottle age. The 2018 Schist continues the vintage theme of mid-palate concentration and fruit density with an incredibly rich, plummy, fragrant aromatics laced with lavender and incense, savoury barbequed meats, charcoal embers, olive tapenade and earthy blackberry fruits. The palate is cool and velvety with a massive mouth coating concentration of red and black berry fruits, powdery dry tannins and all the depth and breadth you’d expect from a wine of this pedigree. Decant and drink this beauty on release or bury away in your cellar for a good 10 to 15 years. – Greg Sherwood MW, 97/100
Mullineux, Granite Syrah 2018
A hint of reduction before red fruit, tea leaf and white pepper on the nose. The palate has lovely shape and texture – pure fruit along with powdery, densely packed tannins while the finish is exceptionally long. Beautifully refined and poised. – Christian Eedes, 96/100
Just as Andrea Mullineux always enthuses, this Granite Syrah is yet again just so exquisitely perfumed with fragrant lifted notes of lavender and lilac, hints of violets and subtle notes of cherry blossom. A veritable Rhoney Garden of Eden. There is a wonderous beauty to the wine that teases the senses with multiple complex aromatic layers of wet gravel, fresh black currants, sun baked strawberries and hints of savoury cured meats, subtle juniper berry notes and sweet red and black peppercorn nuances. Intricately crafted and sublimely expressive, the palate shows a very pure and focused precision with silky, powdery almost creamy tannins that combine with dense, concentrated, tight knit red and black berry fruits, red currant compote, pithy blood orange zest and a long, fine-grained lingering finish that leaves you feeling so utterly charmed. The purity of fruit and compact textural focus and concentration is almost faultless and suggest that this wine is going to evolve into one hell of a Syrah beauty if allowed to age 10 to 15 years for starters. While always fabulous on release, these wines are built to reward extended ageing and so 6 to 8 years should be considered the minimum ageing requisite if you really want to start seeing some of the extra hidden dimensions of this wine. – Greg Sherwood MW, 96+/100
Mullineux, Iron Syrah 2018
Black berries, violets, earth, black pepper and other spice. The palate is dense and weighty with nicely grippy, mouthcoating tannins, the finish super-savoury. As ever, the most forceful of the trio. – Christian Eedes, 96/100
Often described as one of the most intellectually challenging wines in the Mullineux line up, the Iron Syrah also happens to be the most powerful, dense, concentrated and broody of the single terroir Syrah releases. Perhaps it is my love for the classical Northern Rhone Syrah expressions of France that make this wine so singularly and utterly seductive and beguiling. The aromatics are indistinguishable from a top Cote-Rotie Syrah with fabulous layers of sweet heady lavender perfume, rooibos, garrigue and savoury grilled herbs, barbequed meats and hints of iron and blood, iodine, bruleed earth and hedonistic notes of sweet oak spice, roasted coffee beans and a kiss of mocha complexity. So impressively compact, dense and concentrated, every component seems to add synergy to the seamless balance with the tannin management excelling yet again. This is truly a wine of impressive power and beauty within an international fine wine context. Drink from release after decanting or age for 15 to 20+ years. – Greg Sherwood MW, 98/100