One of my “go-to” wines when I see it on a restaurant wine list, this intensely perfumed Syrah comes from seven vineyards, mostly on schist soils. Made with 90% whole bunches, it has more tannin than you think at first, layers of spice, violet and blackberry fruit and a refreshing tang. 2020-25 93/100 Tim Atkin MW
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.
A blend of sustainably-farmed parcels from across the Swartland. Four parcels are planted on the stony shale and schist-based soils of the Kasteelberg, contributing mineral freshness to the final wine. Two parcels of dry land, bush vines grown in the decomposed Granite of the Paardeberg, add bold fruit. The final parcel comes from the iron-rich soils west of Malmesbury. The vines are aged between 22 and 30 years.
The 2017 vintage was in many ways a continuation of the very dry season experienced in 2016. The high-pressure weather cell lying over central Southern Africa did not move, causing continued, below-average levels of rainfall in both winter and summer as it buffeted cold fronts away from the Cape. Fortunately, there was more rain in the winter of 2017 compared to 2016, so the vines started the season with acceptable soil moisture levels. However, the summer growing season was dry, so yields were meagre once again, resulting in fruit with great concentration and intensity for the second vintage in a row.
Each parcel of grapes was chilled in Mullineux’s cold room. 90% of the fruit was added as whole bunches to tank, and the remainder was destemmed. Minimal SO2 was added, and, as with all their wines, no further additions were made. To begin with, punching down was carried out once daily. After about four days, fermentation began with indigenous yeasts, and the cap was then punched down once or twice a day, depending on extract and tannin development. Temperatures were kept below 28°C. Fermentation lasted between seven and ten days. After this, the wine remained on its skins for three to seven weeks. Ageing took place in 225 and 500 litre French oak barrels, of which 15% were new, and a 2000 litre Foudre for 14 months.