Among their many other talents, Chris and Andrea Mullineux are superb blenders. This cuvée of Chenin with Clairette, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Semillon, Viura and Verdelho proves the point. Savoury, waxy and focused, with engaging minerality, fine texture and flavours of pear, peach and citrus peel. 2022-27 95/100 Tim Atkin MW
Chenin Blanc 74%
Grenache Blanc 6%
Semillon Gris 2%
Founded by Chris and Andrea Mullineux in 2007, this winery is now one of the most lauded in South Africa. Named ‘Winery of the Year’ four times by the Platter Guide in 2014, 2016, 2019 and 2020, Mullineux were also Tim Atkin MW’s ‘South African Winemakers of the Year’ in 2016. They chose the town of Riebeek-Kasteel, just west of Malmesbury in the Swartland, for its old vineyards on granite and schist soils, reasoning that, with such quality fruit, they would be able to make outstanding wines. It is an understatement to say they have been proved right.
The wine is made from a blend of seven sustainably farmed parcels from across the Swartland. Two are grown on the stony schist-based soils of the Kasteelberg: one parcel of 41-year-old Chenin Blanc and a parcel of 11-year-old Grenache Blanc. This soil lends a mineral freshness to the wine. Two parcels of 40-65-year-old, dry land, bush vine Chenin Blanc, one parcel of 44-year-old Clairette Blanche and a 60-year-old heritage Semillon Gris vineyard are grown on the decomposed granite of the Paardeberg. The age of the vines, and the granite content in the soil, results in concentrated, complex wines with lifted acidity. The final parcel is 21-year-old Viognier grown on the iron-rich soils of the rolling hills west of Malmesbury.
The 2019 vintage was dominated by very dry conditions in the Swartland, with average yields reduced by 30%. The lower yields resulted in significantly smaller grape bunches and berries, leading to higher than normal extract and concentration levels. The canopies were also more open, allowing more sunlight onto the grapes resulting in thicker skins, more tannins and darker fruit aromatics. Veraison was relatively late, meaning harvest was delayed by 10 -14 days. By harvesting at the perfect moment, Mullineux obtained fruit with an incredible concentration of flavour while retaining great freshness.
As each parcel was harvested, the grapes were chilled in Mullineux’s cold room facility. The grapes were then pressed as whole bunches, and the juice was allowed to settle overnight. Minimal SO2 was added, and, as with all their wines, no other additions were made. The juice was then racked to barrel for fermentation. Fermentation took place with indigenous yeasts and lasted up to eight weeks. The wine was left without additional sulphur on its lees until spring, with nine months spent in third and fourth fill French oak 500L barrels and one new 2000L Foudre. During this time, the wine finished malolactic fermentation. The barrels were racked and blended just before the following vintage and bottled unfiltered.