The 2018 Chardonnay has a very attractive bouquet with detailed scents of dried honey, yellow plum and touches of mango and beeswax. I could nose this all day! The palate is fresh and vibrant on the entry, sporting gorgeous notes of orange peel and mango, and just a touch of spice toward the finish, which has a subtle resinous quality. Complex and engaging, this is a marvelous Chardonnay from Mr. and Mrs. Mullineux.
Neil Martin, vinous.com (Oct 2020)
Single vineyard on the higher loam-based slopes of Helderberg Mountain with maritime influence. Grapes were hand-harvested on 13 and 16 February with yields averaging 36 hl/ha. The cooled grapes are pressed whole bunch and allowed to settle overnight. The must is then racked to barrel for fermentation and temperatures are kept below 24 °C. Fermentation lasted 36 days after which the wine went through malolactic conversion naturally. After spending 12 months on the lees in tight-grain French barriques, 30% new, the wine was then racked, blended, with minimal SO2 added and then aged a further six months in second- and third-fill barriques before bottling. 520 cases plus 210 magnums made.
Naughty heavy bottle. Very light struck-match element on the nose but not too exaggerated. Good depth of savoury flavour on the palate. Restraint and ageing potential but this is broachable already too. Very well done! Just the right balance between weight and refreshment. Good persistence. Pretty smart stuff! The Mullineuxs have made this with great precision. I suspect it will not be given away but it should be a great ambassador for South Africa.
Drink 2020 - 2025
Jancis Robinson, jancisrobinson.com (May 2020)
About this WINE
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines is one of the stand-out producers in South Africa's budding Swartland region. Winemakers Chris and Andrea Mullineux’s ambition is to bottle wines that are a true expression of the Swartland, and all steps of their winemaking process are taken with this in mind. They work closely with a select group of growers who follow sustainable, reasoned farming practices, as well as owning vineyards at their Roundstone Farm in Riebeeksrivier.
In the cellar, apart from minimal amounts of sulphur, nothing is added to or removed from the wine. They do not make use of any yeasts, acids, tannins, enzymes, or fining and filtering agents. “Leeu” (Afrikaans for “lion”) was added to the name recently to recognise the contribution of a new investor to the project.
Apart from their wonderful Syrah, Chenin Blanc-based white blend and a super-rich Straw Wine made from air-dried Chenin Blanc, fermented and matured in old barriques, Mullineux now has a range of spectacular single-terroir Syrah and Chenin Blanc wines, each of which illustrates the amazing potential of the differing Swartland soils. Volumes of the single-vineyard wines are tiny, so availability is extremely limited.
After Stellenboschthe west coast district of Swartland (25 miles due north of Cape Town, between the towns of Malmesbury and Piketberg) now ranks as the Cape's most exciting wine-producing district.Settled initially by nomadic Khoikhoi from Namibia, the Dutch brought trade and vines to the region in the 17th century. Viticulture was developed only more recently.
This contrasts with an ancient geology which has brought a mix of shale, arenite sandstone and granite soils air-conditioned by the Atlantic Ocean nearby.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.