Showing 1–12 of 14 results

  • Mullineux Essence Chenin Blanc 2012 (250ml)

    £149.99

    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)

    In Stock

  • 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)

    In Stock

  • Mullineux Granite Syrah 2018

    £77.95

    “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

    £77.95

    “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 2020

    £24.99

    “The 2020 White Old Vines has a minimalist bouquet that offers fleeting glimpses of citrus peel and beeswax, although I would have liked a little more Chenin character to come through. The palate is well balanced with a lovely texture and hints of brioche and walnut. A subtle lemongrass note emerges toward the finish. Give this 2–3 years in bottle for the aromatics to develop. Drinking window: 2023-2035. 90+ points

    Andrea Mullineux sent me a detailed overview of Leeu & Mullineux with useful summaries of growing seasons. “In the vineyard, we continue to strive for true sustainability by working with self-sowing and permanent cover crops as well as letting our own indigenous cows graze on the farm’s pastures, making manure that we use in the compost that will feed the ground and improve soil carbon. This has, over several years, created healthier soil that retains more moisture, allowing us to dry-farm even in the drought years. Natural soil nutrition also improved so no chemical fertilizers are used. For both wineries, we have a strong base of making wine from old vines, but you cannot get old vines without young vines, so we are also planting young vineyards with the pace and the idea that they will one day become very old. This means that we want the vines to grow slow and even, pruning always with the focus on quality and longevity. We have also planted ‘experimental’ blocks of varieties that may work in the Swartland, especially if the climate continues to change, including Rousanne, Assyrtiko and Vermentino. We have already had wonderful results with Macabeo and Verdelho.”

    “As business owners, we have seen how vulnerable so many have been during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and prohibition in South Africa. We decided to help create more sustainable futures for our loyal employees by starting an additional winemaking company that they could have ownership in, Great Heart Wines. Each employee maintains the same role that they have within Mullineux and Leeu Passant, but they have shareholding and the opportunity to be a director of Great Heart Wines. The only employee with a different role is Gynore Fredericks, who is a graduate of the Cape Winemakers Guild Protege Programme and my assistant winemaker for Mullineux. I am on board to oversee the wines as a cellarmaster for Great Heart, but Gynore is the titled Great Heart winemaker, which has been a great opportunity for her to grow.”

    “As the winemaker for the Mullineux and Leeu Passant wineries, even though I was heavily involved in the vineyards, I am now even more intimately involved with them, taking accountability through to the final wines. Nothing has changed stylistically or philosophically with the wines, but as I have matured, so has my approach in the cellar, knowing more, after years of trial and error, about where to step in and be the custodian and where I can let the wines achieve everything they were set out to do with minimal interference.

    Now for the vintages. The 2019 was the fourth vintage of the ‘Great Drought’ and was characterized by naturally low yields from vines. Winter 2018 was, again, exceptionally dry, but also cold, and this allowed the vines to rest well before the growing season. Spring was relatively dry, but not excessively warm, and this resulted in smaller canopies and smaller bunches and berries. Summer 2019 was also warm and dry, and harvest started at roughly normal dates (last week of January in the Swartland and mid-February in Stellenbosch) with tiny berries and small loose clusters. Cool evenings allowed the freshness of the wines to be maintained. There was some higher disease pressure in Stellenbosch later in the harvest, brought on by some mid-season precipitation, but our Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards, our last to come in, are not late-ripening for the region and we evaded rot by getting the grapes off the vines in time. In the Swartland, an interesting observation is that glucose and fructose ratios had returned to normal and therefore the alcohol-to-sugar ratio significantly improved within our vineyards and our natural/indigenous yeast metabolisms. We saw higher alcohols in the previous years, even though the picking sugars had not increased, and we attributed this to the higher fructose levels in the earlier drought years. The good news is that all of the wines were sugar dry in the end, but in 2018 and before, the alcohols were 0.5%+ higher than what was expected.

    “After the drought we experienced from 2016 to 2019, the 2020 harvest produced yields that were closer to normal. Also, the weather in 2020 was just perfect. We had a lovely wet and cold 2019 winter and very little rain during the growing season, so the grapes were super healthy with small, intensely flavored berries. The irony of the social/government/health challenges we were facing as a country is that we probably had our best vintage in 2020. The season started relatively late and we were able to harvest Chenin and Syrah for Mullineux a few weeks later than the past few years and at moderate potential alcohol levels. The Chardonnay, Cinsault, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon for Leeu Passant ripened at ‘normal’ times due to a warmer second half of harvest, so this created a bit of an accordion effect with a huge mid-harvest crunch. However, with the looming lockdown that we were facing, this ended up being a blessing, as there was no scrambling to complete harvest. Though we were still experiencing very dry conditions in the Cape, the hard work that we had been putting into our vineyards over 5-plus years was clearly evident during this season.”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (11/21)

    In Stock

  • Mullineux Schist Syrah 2018

    £77.95

    “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 2018 (375ml)

    £27.49

    Was £31.99

    “Beginning with aromas of golden raisins, the 2018 Straw Wine Has an amazing floral focus and an emphasis on the stone fruits with peaches and apricots. On the palate, the wine is unctuously sweet, with the purity of varietal characteristics, expressing citrus marmalades, pineapple chutney, yet it still manages to capture the phenolics of Chenin Blanc. The finish lingers minutes after, revealing additional nuances of this elegant yet powerfully precise wine. Yum! Drink: 2019-2045. 94+ points

    It was my good fortune to meet and taste with Chris Mullineux of Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines. Chris and Andrea Mullineux’s single terroir range has always held a soft spot in my heart, as they are blockbuster wines made by a rock-star winemaking team. Unfortunately, Andrea was in the states when I visited, but Chris had a lot to say about the challenges of the 2016 vintage. “The most difficult vintage from 2015 to 2018 was the 2016 vintage, because it was kind of a shock to our system,” he explains. “In 2017, we already knew we were in a drought, so we were quite prepared for it. We picked early, looking to keep the acidity. If you look at the big picture, it was tough, but we were prepared for it. But in 2016, very few were prepared for what we got. In 2017, we dropped some of the crop earlier. We had to regulate the crop in the drought. Just at flowering we reduced the crop, when normally we would have done it at veraison. In 2016 and 2018, we had to drop half of the crop at veraison because we could see the vines stressing.””

    Anthony Mueller, Wine Advocate (245)

    In Stock

  • Sale!

    Mullineux Straw Wine 2020 (375ml)

    £25.49

    “The 2020 Straw Wine has a typically gorgeous bouquet of dried honey, quince, tangerine and touches of candle wax, displaying the usual wonderful delineation and freshness. The palate is extremely well balanced with a killer line of acidity that cuts a swath through the rich honeyed fruit. Notes of tangerine, peach and mango appear toward the finish. Irresistible. Drinking window: 2022-2045. 96 points

    Andrea Mullineux sent me a detailed overview of Leeu & Mullineux with useful summaries of growing seasons. “In the vineyard, we continue to strive for true sustainability by working with self-sowing and permanent cover crops as well as letting our own indigenous cows graze on the farm’s pastures, making manure that we use in the compost that will feed the ground and improve soil carbon. This has, over several years, created healthier soil that retains more moisture, allowing us to dry-farm even in the drought years. Natural soil nutrition also improved so no chemical fertilizers are used. For both wineries, we have a strong base of making wine from old vines, but you cannot get old vines without young vines, so we are also planting young vineyards with the pace and the idea that they will one day become very old. This means that we want the vines to grow slow and even, pruning always with the focus on quality and longevity. We have also planted ‘experimental’ blocks of varieties that may work in the Swartland, especially if the climate continues to change, including Rousanne, Assyrtiko and Vermentino. We have already had wonderful results with Macabeo and Verdelho.”

    “As business owners, we have seen how vulnerable so many have been during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and prohibition in South Africa. We decided to help create more sustainable futures for our loyal employees by starting an additional winemaking company that they could have ownership in, Great Heart Wines. Each employee maintains the same role that they have within Mullineux and Leeu Passant, but they have shareholding and the opportunity to be a director of Great Heart Wines. The only employee with a different role is Gynore Fredericks, who is a graduate of the Cape Winemakers Guild Protege Programme and my assistant winemaker for Mullineux. I am on board to oversee the wines as a cellarmaster for Great Heart, but Gynore is the titled Great Heart winemaker, which has been a great opportunity for her to grow.”

    “As the winemaker for the Mullineux and Leeu Passant wineries, even though I was heavily involved in the vineyards, I am now even more intimately involved with them, taking accountability through to the final wines. Nothing has changed stylistically or philosophically with the wines, but as I have matured, so has my approach in the cellar, knowing more, after years of trial and error, about where to step in and be the custodian and where I can let the wines achieve everything they were set out to do with minimal interference.

    Now for the vintages. The 2019 was the fourth vintage of the ‘Great Drought’ and was characterized by naturally low yields from vines. Winter 2018 was, again, exceptionally dry, but also cold, and this allowed the vines to rest well before the growing season. Spring was relatively dry, but not excessively warm, and this resulted in smaller canopies and smaller bunches and berries. Summer 2019 was also warm and dry, and harvest started at roughly normal dates (last week of January in the Swartland and mid-February in Stellenbosch) with tiny berries and small loose clusters. Cool evenings allowed the freshness of the wines to be maintained. There was some higher disease pressure in Stellenbosch later in the harvest, brought on by some mid-season precipitation, but our Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards, our last to come in, are not late-ripening for the region and we evaded rot by getting the grapes off the vines in time. In the Swartland, an interesting observation is that glucose and fructose ratios had returned to normal and therefore the alcohol-to-sugar ratio significantly improved within our vineyards and our natural/indigenous yeast metabolisms. We saw higher alcohols in the previous years, even though the picking sugars had not increased, and we attributed this to the higher fructose levels in the earlier drought years. The good news is that all of the wines were sugar dry in the end, but in 2018 and before, the alcohols were 0.5%+ higher than what was expected.
    “After the drought we experienced from 2016 to 2019, the 2020 harvest produced yields that were closer to normal. Also, the weather in 2020 was just perfect. We had a lovely wet and cold 2019 winter and very little rain during the growing season, so the grapes were super healthy with small, intensely flavored berries. The irony of the social/government/health challenges we were facing as a country is that we probably had our best vintage in 2020. The season started relatively late and we were able to harvest Chenin and Syrah for Mullineux a few weeks later than the past few years and at moderate potential alcohol levels. The Chardonnay, Cinsault, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon for Leeu Passant ripened at ‘normal’ times due to a warmer second half of harvest, so this created a bit of an accordion effect with a huge mid-harvest crunch. However, with the looming lockdown that we were facing, this ended up being a blessing, as there was no scrambling to complete harvest. Though we were still experiencing very dry conditions in the Cape, the hard work that we had been putting into our vineyards over 5-plus years was clearly evident during this season.”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (11/21)

    In Stock

  • Mullineux Syrah 2018

    £28.99

    “The 2018 Syrah contains 90% whole bunch and was matured for 14 months in 15% new oak, used wood and foudre. It has a lively bouquet of brambly red berry fruit, white pepper, clove and cola scents that gain intensity with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannins. This is quite a sinewy Syrah, grippy in the mouth, revealing hints of licorice and Japanese nori toward the saline finish. Excellent. Drinking window: 2023-2036. 92 points”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (04/21)

    In Stock

  • The Sadie Family Palladius 2018

    £84.99

    “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

  • The Sadie Family Soldaat 2018

    £84.99

    “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

  • 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