Showing all 10 results

  • Leeu Passant Basson Cinsault 2018

    £49.75

    “The 2018 Cinsault Wellington Old Vines Basson is a tricky wine to assess and needs 10-15 minutes to really cohere on the nose. It offers brambly red berry fruit, leather and Provencal herbs on the nose, eventually revealing pressed rose petals. The aromatics actually improve 24 hours after opening. The palate is medium-bodied with light tannins, fine acidity, a dash of white pepper and an almost sedate, understated finish. This will be fascinating to observe maturing in bottle. Drinking window: 2021-2032. 92 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 (07/21)

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  • Leeu Passant Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

    £33.75

    “The 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon Stellenbosch comes from a single vineyard located on the mid-slopes of Helderberg between 200m and 400m, a cool site exposed to breezes from False Bay. It has quite a pungent nose, rather earthy and spicy, more old school Syrah-like than Cabernet. The palate is medium-bodied with fairly firm and dry tannins that frame the black fruit laced with graphite and tobacco. I find this just a little austere on the finish. Drinking window: 2024-2036. 90 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)

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  • Leeu Passant Dry Red 2017

    £73.95

    “The 2017 Dry Red Wine offers fragrant, open-knit scents of crushed strawberry, maraschino cherries, orange pith and a background scent of potpourri, cohering with aeration. The palate has a well balanced, quite fleshy opening and silky-smooth red fruit. More tender than expected, with a caressing, almost Grenache-like finish. Delicious. Drinking window: 2022-2036. 93 points”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (02/21)

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  • Leeu Passant Lotter Cinsault 2018

    £47.99

    “The 2018 Old Vines Lötter Cinsault has a gorgeous bouquet of lifted red cherries, crushed strawberry and a touch of shoe leather, all very well defined and focused. The palate is well balanced with a lightly spiced entry, a fine bead of acidity and a caressing texture. Chinese five-spice and notes of sage appear toward the complex finish. This is an excellent Cinsault from Andrea and Chris Mullineux. Drinking window: 2021-2035. 93 points”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (02/21)

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  • 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)

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  • 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)

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  • 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)

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  • The Sadie Family Soldaat 2018

    £98.75

    “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)

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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)

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