My pick of the three top Mullineux Syrahs in 2018, this world-class red is the most perfumed and alluring of the trio right now. Combining fruit from the Kasteelberg and Roundstone, this has violet and lavender aromas, some sap and grip from 100% whole bunches, incredible focus and grip and a plush, seductive mid-palate. 2023-32 97/100 Tim Atkin MW
Fruit for this Syrah comes from a single parcel of sustainably farmed, 21-year-old vines planted in the stony shale and schist based soils of Mullineux’s farm, Roundstone, on the Kasteelberg. The soils are rocky and well-drained, producing vines with smaller and more open canopies, naturally small bunches and thickskinned berries. This parcel of Syrah gives the best expression of the Kasteelberg soil’s density with structured tannins and a darker fruit profile.
The 2018 vintage experienced extremely dry conditions in the Swartland, with average yields reduced by 50% of normal volumes, while some vineyards were significantly lower. The lower yields resulted in significantly smaller grape bunches and berries but have led to concentrated fruit with complexity of flavour and aroma. The canopies were also more open, allowing more sunlight onto the grapes resulting in thicker skins, more tannins and darker fruit aromatics. Veraison was late, meaning harvest started 10 to 14 days later than normal. Another vintage with tiny yields but exciting quality.
Grapes were first chilled in Mullineux’s cold room. The whole bunches were then put into open-top, 500-litre French oak barrels and crushed by foot to release some juice. Minimal SO2 was added, and, as with all their wines, no further additions were made. After about four days, fermentation began with indigenous yeasts and lasted about 10 days. The cap was manually punched down once a day before, during and after fermentation.
Following a further four weeks of skin contact, the wine was drained and pressed to barrel for malolactic fermentation and maturation. The wine spent 12 months ageing in 500-litre French oak barrels (25% new), followed by nine months in second fill Foudre. After a total of 21 months in barrel, it was bottled unfiltered and unfined.
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