Mullineux Single Terroir

Swartland, swartland South Africa

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.

As always with great wines, the story starts in the vineyard. The Swartland is warm and dry in the summer and benefits from a cooling afternoon breeze from the Atlantic Ocean, which borders the Swartland to the West. Disease pressure is low, which in turn means spraying is kept to a minimum. While the trend in much of the rest of the world is to reintroduce native plants to vineyards to ensure a more balanced ecosystem, the fashion for monoculture in the 1970s and 1980s bypassed the Swartland.  As a result, most of the vineyards that Chris and Andrea own and lease are planted amid native species like fynbos. These provide a home for native insects, which in turn act as predators of other insects that can damage the vines. Once again, this enables spraying to be kept to a minimum.

The wines are based primarily on Chenin Blanc and Syrah. 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. Their Granite Chenin Blanc, for instance, is from a vineyard planted on the decomposed granite soils of the Paardeberg mountain. The fruit is picked into small baskets, chilled overnight and whole bunch pressed to ensure low phenolics. It is fermented in barrel with indigenous yeasts and aged for 11 months in old French oak. As with every wine that Mullineux produce, it combines texture, intensity and elegance in a remarkable way, and has an innate sense of balance running through it. The Quartz Chenin Blanc is made in exactly the same way as the ‘Granite’, but the soil in Kasteelberg gives a wine with less power yet more of a sinewy, minerally character.

Like the Chenins, their Schist, Granite and Iron Syrahs are all vinified in the same way to highlight the different character that the soil gives to each wine. The grapes are chilled after picking and the whole bunches are then tipped into open top, 500-litre French oak barrels and foot stomped to release juice. The whole bunches give an aromatic brightness to the wines that sets them apart, while only 25% new oak is used during the 22 months of ageing in order to retain the distinctive perfumes of each site. Of the three Syrahs, the ‘Schist’ is the most structured, the ‘Iron’ is the richest, and the ‘Granite’ is the most aromatic.

In short, Mullineux is an outstanding producer that we are delighted to add to our portfolio.

 

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