Swartland


Showing 1–12 of 13 results

  • Mullineux Granite Syrah 2018

    £73.95

    “The 2018 Syrah Granite was matured for 12 months in French oak plus nine months in second-fill foudre. The well-defined nose features blackberry, raspberry and touches of white pepper, all focused and becoming quite floral with time. The palate is medium-bodied with good grip on the entry and quite compact. Tarry black fruit mingles with sage and black pepper toward quite a stern finish. Fine, but it will require 2–3 years in bottle. Drinking window: 2024-2040. 92 points”

    Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (04/21)

    In Stock

  • Mullineux Iron Syrah 2018

    £73.95

    “The 2018 Syrah Iron has a high-toned nose delivering more blue fruit than the Schist Syrah, and certainly more floral and perhaps Rhône-like in style. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannins on the entry and granular in texture. Wonderful tension and mineralité come through on the graphite-tinged finish. This might ultimately be my pick from Mullineux’s Syrahs. Drinking window: 2024-2042. 93 points”

    Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (04/21)

    In Stock

  • Mullineux Old Vines White 2021

    £24.99

    “The 2021 Old Vines White comes from vines up to 70-years old built around Chenin Blanc, 62% in this vintage, barrel fermented in 500-litre barrels and a couple of foudres. This has a lovely bouquet with dried honey, white flowers, honeysuckle and light grilled walnut aromas. The palate is very well balanced with a fine bead of acidity, gorgeous texture with impressive tension on the finish. This is an outstanding Old Vine White that will age with style. Drinking window: 2023-2040. 93 points

    The indefatigable Andrea Mullineux guided me through her latest releases at Roundstone, their farm in Swartland. (If you are eager to read notes on back vintages, verticals of their red blends will be published in due course.) Mullineux farms her vines organically, or they are under conversion, including their entry-level Kloof Street in future vintages, though that will not be stated on the label. First, I asked her about the 2021 vintage. “It was a late start of spring,” she tells me. “It was cold but relatively dry until the end of July and August. August and September saw a bit of rain that led to later budding. There was consistent rain between sunny periods in September, so the vines had large canopies that acted as solar panels, therefore everyone had to be careful with canopy management. It was relatively cold up until Christmas. On January 1 we had the first of several heat waves – not long extended ones – more like waves of heat spikes. There were a lot of grapes, but nothing was going through véraison, that ended up three weeks later than normal for earlier ripening varieties like Chenin Blanc and Syrah, whereas later varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay were about on time. You had to make sure you did not miss the right moment to pick whilst keeping in mind not being trigger happy, just because harvest is later, the Syrah by three weeks. This created a concertina affect: all the whites coming in, a short pause and then all the reds. It’s quite a textural vintage with deep colours. On the second day of maceration, there was full colour extraction. The 2020 was a classic vintage with a greater number of warmer days than 2021. There was no picking pressure. We picked the Syrah over 14 days instead of the usual 10 as there was less disease pressure. We had no idea about the lockdown, but we had an amazing team in the winery. There was a natural phenolic ripeness.”

    Tasting through Mullineux Family Wines and their Leeu Passant project in Franschhoek, unsurprisingly, I found a very consistent set of wines that are evolving more individuality. Indeed, I commented to Mullineux that I cannot remember a vintage where there are such distinguishable differences between the Iron, Schist and Granite cuvées. In that respect, the 2020 Schist Syrah is a knockout, one of the finest I have tasted from Mullineux at this stage. Their Kloof Street remains a supremely affordable entry-point for many, whilst their two sweet wines, their straw wine and the third iteration of their solera – Olerasay – are ridiculously good, the latter flirting with perfection.”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (10/22)

    In Stock

  • Mullineux Schist Syrah 2018

    £73.95

    “The 2018 Syrah Schist was matured identically to the Granite Syrah. It is more open on the nose, with a greater proportion of red fruit compared to the 2018 Granite, raspberry and wild strawberry commingling with briar, white pepper, wild fennel and light Provençal herb aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins, cohesive and finely chiseled, and the finish shows more precision and nuance than the Granite. Chris and Andrea Mullineux told me that this was their favorite Syrah in 2018. Mine too. Drinking window: 2024-2042. 94 points”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (04/21)

    In Stock

  • Mullineux Straw Wine 2021 (375ml)

    £31.95

    “The 2021 Straw Wine is pure Chenin as usual from vineyards that have the best malic acid as it tends not to precipitate out in such a sweet wine. It is dried outside over three months, barrel fermented until it stops naturally (340g/L residual sugar). It has an irresistible nose with pure honey, orange, strawberry and even a slight Aszu like quality. The palate is viscous and intense, the acidity effortlessly cutting through the richness with a beguilingly pure and seductive finish. Yet another to add to the canon of fabulous straw wines from the Mullineux’s. Drinking window: 2022-2048. 96 points

    The indefatigable Andrea Mullineux guided me through her latest releases at Roundstone, their farm in Swartland. (If you are eager to read notes on back vintages, verticals of their red blends will be published in due course.) Mullineux farms her vines organically, or they are under conversion, including their entry-level Kloof Street in future vintages, though that will not be stated on the label. First, I asked her about the 2021 vintage. “It was a late start of spring,” she tells me. “It was cold but relatively dry until the end of July and August. August and September saw a bit of rain that led to later budding. There was consistent rain between sunny periods in September, so the vines had large canopies that acted as solar panels, therefore everyone had to be careful with canopy management. It was relatively cold up until Christmas. On January 1 we had the first of several heat waves – not long extended ones – more like waves of heat spikes. There were a lot of grapes, but nothing was going through véraison, that ended up three weeks later than normal for earlier ripening varieties like Chenin Blanc and Syrah, whereas later varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay were about on time. You had to make sure you did not miss the right moment to pick whilst keeping in mind not being trigger happy, just because harvest is later, the Syrah by three weeks. This created a concertina affect: all the whites coming in, a short pause and then all the reds. It’s quite a textural vintage with deep colours. On the second day of maceration, there was full colour extraction. The 2020 was a classic vintage with a greater number of warmer days than 2021. There was no picking pressure. We picked the Syrah over 14 days instead of the usual 10 as there was less disease pressure. We had no idea about the lockdown, but we had an amazing team in the winery. There was a natural phenolic ripeness.”

    Tasting through Mullineux Family Wines and their Leeu Passant project in Franschhoek, unsurprisingly, I found a very consistent set of wines that are evolving more individuality. Indeed, I commented to Mullineux that I cannot remember a vintage where there are such distinguishable differences between the Iron, Schist and Granite cuvées. In that respect, the 2020 Schist Syrah is a knockout, one of the finest I have tasted from Mullineux at this stage. Their Kloof Street remains a supremely affordable entry-point for many, whilst their two sweet wines, their straw wine and the third iteration of their solera – Olerasay – are ridiculously good, the latter flirting with perfection.”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (10/22)

    In Stock

  • The Sadie Family Palladius 2018

    £109.75

    “The 2018 Palladius is a blend of 12 grape varieties, whole-cluster-pressed and matured in clay and concrete amphorae. Only Eben Sadie can take a gallimaufry of grape varieties and create a wine of this caliber. It has a clean, pure bouquet of wax resin, pine needles, greengage plum and light chamomile scents that gain intensity with aeration. The palate is bright and vivacious on the entry and displays a wonderful waxy texture; peach skin, hazelnut and saline notes appear toward the finish. It’s all about the umami. Chenin, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Clairette, Palomino, Verdellho, Grenache Gris, Sémillon Blanc, Sémillon Gris, Colombard. Drinking window: 2023-2040. 94 points

    It had been too long since I shot the breeze with Eben Sadie. Even though we couldn’t chat in his natural habitat, the vineyard, our Zoom conversation between Surrey and the Swartland was the next best thing. As expected, our conversation meandered to cover all manner of subjects, not only pertaining to South Africa. Eben Sadie is a contradiction in the sense that he is wedded to his homeland yet has a catholic taste in wine, as evidenced by rows of Burgundy and Barolo bottles lining his office. He began in typically philosophical form, looking back at his professional career.

    “I have surpassed everything I set out to do and forged a team around me with similar capabilities. You need people to follow with the same trajectory, people that buy into your vision. It’s like a painter. You need a good studio where you feel free to practice your art. Wine is the same, but there are all these people who make it possible. We’ve gone from a staff of 10 to 25, mostly on the viticultural side. We have also acquired land, so that 80% of the vineyards are completely controlled by ourselves, even if from a financial standpoint it is much less profitable. Also, we have planted different grape varieties, which is exciting, though not all are successful.”

    One intriguing exchange concerned how Sadie reassesses the modus operandi in the winery every decade. In introducing a new approach – a change in punch-downs or aging vessel, for example – he wants to pressure-test that technique under different growing seasons and/or with different people, in order to gauge if it should be a permanent feature. Since the 2019 vintage is the 20th anniversary of Sadie Family Wines, it prompted Sadie to look back. To take just one facet of winemaking, he sees the first decade as one where everything was destemmed, then a decade when whole bunch was almost mandatory. Going forward, he plans to adopt a more nuanced approach.

    “Whole cluster is such a huge debate at the moment. When you look at regional specifics, areas with very cool climates producing fruit with high acidity, low pH and often very low potassium are most suited to whole bunch. [Looking back at previous vintages] we found in the first decade that there was a level and sophistication of tannin that was better than in the second decade. It feels like a textural aspect was lost. The second finding was that the Swartland being low in acidity and high in potassium in the stems, compounded by the droughts, means that I don’t think Swartland is the best place for whole cluster. Therefore, for the Old Vine Series reds, we took the whole cluster down from 90% to 50% in 2019. We don’t do punch-downs but more like a délestage, so that is what we will do going forward.”

    We then drilled down to discuss individual wines within his Old Vine Series of releases, commencing with the reds.

    “With respect to the 2019 Soldaat, you might have noticed a vegetal aspect in the Grenache,” Sadie told me. “In late December we have started removing leaves around the bunches to remove that aspect. I like it, but I like very austere and ungiving wines. Pofadder is a pure Cinsault vineyard, one where I noticed that it crops much lower. I don’t subscribe to the view that low crops are necessarily the best, but here I think it is a good thing. The actual bunches are smaller. We used to get a lot of side bunches but they’ve not appeared in the last three years. That’s nothing that we have done.”

    Eben Sadie is a huge fan of Tinta Barocca and once he starts on the subject, you can do little to stop him.

    “The Tinta Barocca [the variety behind Trienspoor] has had the biggest leap in quality. I think it is the best grape planted in the Swartland but it’s an unknown. Even producers don’t know where to plant it. For the 2019 we had one tank completely destemmed and another half-destemmed, so it was 20% destemmed overall, though 2021 is completely destemmed. It has Piedmont-like tannins and Northern Rhône aromatics. The problem is that it has very low yields, which is why Portuguese growers did not plant it widely after the war, when they were getting paid per kilo. But it has such intensity of flavor that I have to stop my pickers from eating the grapes during harvest. The viticulture is much better in this vineyard now. Also, the aging is improved, using conical vats and one foudre to give a little more tannin.”

    Sadie is one of the rare breeds of winemakers with no qualms about admitting that he could have done better, even though personally, I construe it as a bit of serendipity.

    “The Skurfberg [pure Chenin Blanc] was maybe picked earlier than I wanted. The drought was at its peak and yields were down to 12hl/ha instead of 25-28hl/ha. We could have picked a week later, but we would have possibly killed the vines. Even picking earlier, some vines died because in some places there was just 118mm of rain, half the norm. So it has more acidity than normal, with a green line running through the wine. It’s very strict. I’ll be watching this wine out of the corner of my eye to see whether that earlier picking is something we should pursue. Mev. Kirsten is one of those wines where I talk with a pride that can border on arrogance. But there is no vineyard like it. It’s one of the most difficult soils that we farm – it gets so wet quickly and dries just as quick. We have put a lot of organic material in that vineyard over the last 10 years. From 2017 onward it has entered a completely different realm. I took a six-pack to Burgundy and poured it for some growers, and a couple said that it drinks like a Grand Cru. That’s a huge compliment. I’m so proud of the viticulture here. I would take Aubert de Villaine into that vineyard to show him.””

    Neal Martin, Vinous (04/21)

    In Stock

  • Sale!

    The Sadie Family Soldaat 2018

    £78.95

    “The 2018 Soldaat is pure Grenache Noir from Piekenierskloof. It offers earthy red berry fruit on the nose, touches of wild heather and fynbos emerging with time and lending wonderful complexity. The palate is well balanced with a fleshy opening. There are layers of vibrant red cherry and strawberry fruit laced with white pepper and sage toward the persistent finish. Yet there is an approachability to this Soldaat that means it will be difficult to resist in its youth. Drinking window: 2021-2042. 95 points”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (11/19)

    In Stock

  • Sale!

    Mullineux Essence Chenin Blanc 2012 (250ml)

    £119.99

    Two bottles available

    “The 2012 Essence is essentially the last of two-day pressing, fermented for four years in barrel, 4.5% alcohol with (drum roll please) a whopping 650 grams per liter of residual sugar. It was pressed at around 80 brix! Refulgent amber in color, it has a gorgeous orange sorbet, syrup, fig, Seville orange marmalade and quince-scented bouquet that is very well defined. The palate is, to quote Chris himself, a “complete monster”—a diabetic’s worst nightmare. The senses are bewildered and then seduced by the payload of sweet honeyed fruit, the 14.5 grams of acidity maintaining the balance and freshness. It positively lacquers the inside of the mouth and the finish delivers just a very subtle bitter lemon note that prevents it from being cloying. Outrageous and probably immortal. There are 700 bottles, all 250-milliliters. Drink: 2017-2117. 98 points

    Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines (formerly Mullineux Family Wines) have gone from strength to strength in recent years. It seems a long time ago that their original investor poured their inaugural vintage blind at a lunch in London to the delight of the assembled. Nowadays Chris and Andrea Mullineux have won almost as many plaudits as their friend Eben Sadie, whilst the backing of Indian entrepreneur Analjit Singh has opened whole new horizons, which in a single word you could call Franschhoek. When tasting at their Roundstone winery, I asked Andrea how it all came about.

    “[Analjit] bought the estate and was looking to employ winemakers and this was the same time that Keith [their original investor] was looking to sell his shares. Rosa Kruger was helping him and suggested the partnership with Chris and I. He has no intention to influence what we do. The initial idea was for Mullineux to make Franschhoek wines, but it is a Swartland brand, so we started the Leeu Passant label. We wanted to do something South African, not make an imitation Bordeaux. The idea is that we explore and pay homage to South African wine Heritage, in the mood of the old South African wines from the 1950s and 1960s. We wanted to deconstruct those wines and reconstruct them in a modern way. For the red it includes fruit from South Africa’s oldest vineyard that is leased on a long-term contract. They are actually fenced off.”

    This was a strong set of wines from Chris and Andrea, both white and red. Whether you are making your acquaintance with Cape wine courtesy of their Kloof Street label or seeking terroir-driven wines with their Iron/Schist/Granite bottlings, there is a sense of consistency that has built their reputation in recent years. And their Straw Wine is remarkable. I have tasted all of them since release on a number of occasions and they are brilliant; the concentrated 2016 Straw Wine a contender for the best the couple have ever made. For those whose eyes are automatically attracted to points, you will see my 99-point score for the NV Olerasay, the solera that that had been itching to release for a number of years. I was actually served this blind in London and it just blew me away, therefore I asked Andrea if I could re-taste it. It just seems to have developed an effortless nature that it did not have just after bottling, a sensational wine that to date is the highest score I have given to a recently released South African wine.

    I have included here the debut releases from their Franschhoek estate under the Leeu & Passant label. I like the idea of updating the past, right from the retro-style labeling to the wine inside the bottle. I have a feeling that the warmer 2015 growing season probably did not suit the style of wine they would like in the future and whilst I enjoyed the two whites and red that I tasted, I suspect that a cooler and perhaps more challenging growing season is going to push these wines to a higher level. If all these developments were not enough (and God only knows how the couple find time to bring up their young family), there is the maiden 2012 Essence, which as the name suggests is based on the namesake Tokaji, delivering a mammoth 650 grams per liter of residual sugar. There are just 700 “diddy” 250-milliliter bottles. It is totally outrageous and totally delicious, doubtlessly destined to last as long as those legendary immortal 18th century Vin de Constance.”

    Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (230)

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  • Mullineux Granite Chenin Blanc 2019

    £49.99

    “The 2019 Chenin Granite is clean and focused on the nose with apple blossom, yellow plum and honeysuckle scents. Its initial bashfulness soon gives way to a louder voice. The palate is taut and focused on the entry, and delivers orange peel, marmalade and hints of stem ginger and dried honey toward the waxy-textured finish. Give this 2–3 years in bottle because there is substance here, and it has a lot to give. Drinking window: 2023-2036. 92+ points”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (04/21)

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  • Mullineux Syrah 2017

    £27.49

    “The 2017 Syrah contains 90% whole-bunch fruit and sees 11 months in 500-liter oak barrels, 20% new. It has a lifted blackberry, raspberry and pomegranate bouquet, which is quite dense at the moment and showing just a touch of reduction. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly chewy tannins on the entry. There is plenty of lovely red fruit here, laced with white pepper and clove. The precise finish lingers in the mouth. Very fine.  Drinking window: 2021-2036. 91 points”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (11/19)

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  • The Sadie Family Columella 2017

    £68.95

    “The 2017 Columella has an outgoing, intense bouquet, a mixture of red and black fruit mixed with sage, tobacco and thyme, that seems a little smudged initially but gains clarity with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins, plenty of red berry fruit, a generous sprinkling of white pepper and a hint of fennel. Powerful yet refined, and very focused and harmonious on the finish. Gorgeous. Drinking window: 2022-2045. 94 points”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (11/19)

    Sold Out

  • The Sadie Family Skerpioen 2019

    £69.99

    “The 2019 Skerpioen has a well-defined bouquet of pine cones, lanolin and wild fennel aromas that gains intensity with air. The palate is well balanced with a fine bead of acidity, full of energy and vigor, and slightly waxy in texture. Chamomile and touches of Turkish delight appear on the finish. Stand back and watch this blossom in the glass. Chenin Blanc, Palomino. Drinking window: 2022-2038. 93 points

    It had been too long since I shot the breeze with Eben Sadie. Even though we couldn’t chat in his natural habitat, the vineyard, our Zoom conversation between Surrey and the Swartland was the next best thing. As expected, our conversation meandered to cover all manner of subjects, not only pertaining to South Africa. Eben Sadie is a contradiction in the sense that he is wedded to his homeland yet has a catholic taste in wine, as evidenced by rows of Burgundy and Barolo bottles lining his office. He began in typically philosophical form, looking back at his professional career.

    “I have surpassed everything I set out to do and forged a team around me with similar capabilities. You need people to follow with the same trajectory, people that buy into your vision. It’s like a painter. You need a good studio where you feel free to practice your art. Wine is the same, but there are all these people who make it possible. We’ve gone from a staff of 10 to 25, mostly on the viticultural side. We have also acquired land, so that 80% of the vineyards are completely controlled by ourselves, even if from a financial standpoint it is much less profitable. Also, we have planted different grape varieties, which is exciting, though not all are successful.”

    One intriguing exchange concerned how Sadie reassesses the modus operandi in the winery every decade. In introducing a new approach – a change in punch-downs or aging vessel, for example – he wants to pressure-test that technique under different growing seasons and/or with different people, in order to gauge if it should be a permanent feature. Since the 2019 vintage is the 20th anniversary of Sadie Family Wines, it prompted Sadie to look back. To take just one facet of winemaking, he sees the first decade as one where everything was destemmed, then a decade when whole bunch was almost mandatory. Going forward, he plans to adopt a more nuanced approach.

    “Whole cluster is such a huge debate at the moment. When you look at regional specifics, areas with very cool climates producing fruit with high acidity, low pH and often very low potassium are most suited to whole bunch. [Looking back at previous vintages] we found in the first decade that there was a level and sophistication of tannin that was better than in the second decade. It feels like a textural aspect was lost. The second finding was that the Swartland being low in acidity and high in potassium in the stems, compounded by the droughts, means that I don’t think Swartland is the best place for whole cluster. Therefore, for the Old Vine Series reds, we took the whole cluster down from 90% to 50% in 2019. We don’t do punch-downs but more like a délestage, so that is what we will do going forward.”

    We then drilled down to discuss individual wines within his Old Vine Series of releases, commencing with the reds.

    “With respect to the 2019 Soldaat, you might have noticed a vegetal aspect in the Grenache,” Sadie told me. “In late December we have started removing leaves around the bunches to remove that aspect. I like it, but I like very austere and ungiving wines. Pofadder is a pure Cinsault vineyard, one where I noticed that it crops much lower. I don’t subscribe to the view that low crops are necessarily the best, but here I think it is a good thing. The actual bunches are smaller. We used to get a lot of side bunches but they’ve not appeared in the last three years. That’s nothing that we have done.”

    Eben Sadie is a huge fan of Tinta Barocca and once he starts on the subject, you can do little to stop him.

    “The Tinta Barocca [the variety behind Trienspoor] has had the biggest leap in quality. I think it is the best grape planted in the Swartland but it’s an unknown. Even producers don’t know where to plant it. For the 2019 we had one tank completely destemmed and another half-destemmed, so it was 20% destemmed overall, though 2021 is completely destemmed. It has Piedmont-like tannins and Northern Rhône aromatics. The problem is that it has very low yields, which is why Portuguese growers did not plant it widely after the war, when they were getting paid per kilo. But it has such intensity of flavor that I have to stop my pickers from eating the grapes during harvest. The viticulture is much better in this vineyard now. Also, the aging is improved, using conical vats and one foudre to give a little more tannin.”

    Sadie is one of the rare breeds of winemakers with no qualms about admitting that he could have done better, even though personally, I construe it as a bit of serendipity.

    “The Skurfberg [pure Chenin Blanc] was maybe picked earlier than I wanted. The drought was at its peak and yields were down to 12hl/ha instead of 25-28hl/ha. We could have picked a week later, but we would have possibly killed the vines. Even picking earlier, some vines died because in some places there was just 118mm of rain, half the norm. So it has more acidity than normal, with a green line running through the wine. It’s very strict. I’ll be watching this wine out of the corner of my eye to see whether that earlier picking is something we should pursue. Mev. Kirsten is one of those wines where I talk with a pride that can border on arrogance. But there is no vineyard like it. It’s one of the most difficult soils that we farm – it gets so wet quickly and dries just as quick. We have put a lot of organic material in that vineyard over the last 10 years. From 2017 onward it has entered a completely different realm. I took a six-pack to Burgundy and poured it for some growers, and a couple said that it drinks like a Grand Cru. That’s a huge compliment. I’m so proud of the viticulture here. I would take Aubert de Villaine into that vineyard to show him.””

    Neal Martin, Vinous (04/21)

    Sold Out