“The hardest wine to make,” says Andrea Mullineux of this Chenin Blanc from a nutrition poor vineyard on the Kasteelbeg. But the effort is certainly worth it. Showing aromas of white flowers and gunflint, it has amazing focus, salinity and depth with linear acidity and notes of green apple, kitchen spices and umami. 2021-27 96/100 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. At the top of their quality ladder are the Single Terroir wines, made from small parcels of old vines, usually dry farmed on the ancient granite, quartz, schist or iron-based soils of the Swartland.
This wine is made from a single parcel of sustainably farmed, 38- year-old vines planted in a quartz kloof on the Kasteelberg. This parcel of Chenin gives the best expression of the quartz terroir on the Kasteelberg. The soils are deep, with a high clay content resulting in wines with fresh acidities but powerful concentration and rich texture. A layer of white quartz rock on the surface reflects sunlight and imparts a riper, stone fruit profile and spicier notes.
The 2019 vintage was dominated by arid conditions in the Swartland, with average yields reduced by 30% and less than 300mm rainfall. The lower yields resulted in significantly smaller grape bunches and berries, leading to wines with higher than normal extract and concentration levels. However, they produced higher acidities than the preceding vintage and elegant fruit purity. Veraison was relatively late, meaning harvest was delayed by 10 -14 days. The Chenin Blanc grapes were harvested between the 26th January and 5th February 2019 with a yield of 5 tons/ha.
The grapes were first chilled in Mullineux’s cold room before being pressed as whole bunches. The juice was then allowed to settle overnight. Minimal SO2 was added, and, as with all their wines, no further additions were made. The juice was then racked to barrel for fermentation, which took place with indigenous yeasts and lasted for about four weeks. The wine was left in barrels, on its lees, until spring. In total, the wine spent 11 months in third and fourth fill French oak barrels. The barrels were racked and blended just before the next vintage and bottled unfiltered.