Mullineux Schist Chenin Blanc 2021


Sold Out

The 2021 Chenin Blanc Schist come from the Roundstone Estate on rocky, tile-like stones that are less water retentive and produce more compact vines with smaller bunches and extra structure. It has a more austere bouquet than the Granite, slate-like and earthier by comparison. The palate is taut and saline on the entry, quite strict with a little more nerve than the Granite, pointed towards the finish with a tingle of stem ginger on the aftertaste. This will require a little more bottle age. Very fine. Drinking window: 2025-2030. 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 (09/22)