Suertes del Marques Releases One of Their Most Elegant Vino de Parcela Reds to Date – Tasting the Ethereal El Ciruelo 2016…

Despite the warmth of the 2016 vintage, the top quality reds from Suertes del Marques display impressive freshness after owner Jonatan Garcia Lima adjusted the picking dates and the vinifications to counterbalance the effects of the warmth and remove any chance of over ripeness in the fruit. The results of these decisions are most marked in their Vino de Parcela wines and especially the El Ciruelo 2016.

The grapes come from a circa 100 year old vineyard grown at 480 to 520 metres altitude on sandy soils. It was made using 100% whole bunches with a 30 day maceration and alcoholic fermentation completed in concrete tanks before being aged 11 months in used 500 litre French oak barrels.

Tasting in London in February 2019 with owner Jonatan Garcia Lima.

Suertes del Marques Vino de Parcela El Ciruelo Listan Negro Vinas Viejas 2016, DO Valle de la Orotava, Tenerife

Like many of the 2016 tintos, this one is very noticeably lighter and brighter in colour than either the 2015 or 2014 reds. The El Ciruelo has an enticingly light translucent cherry red colour and while it is initially tighter with stony basalt aromatic restraint and some reductive notes to begin with, the wine soon opens its grip to reveal wonderfully pure red fruited Listan Negro aromatics of red cherry, red plum confit, wood smoke, sun dried cranberries and a volcanic, mineral, chalky terroir complexity. The palate is sleek, incredibly precise, slightly sappy and fabulously elegant with a lean, well defined textural frame on which a considerable amount of pithy, sweet, sappy brambly red berry fruit concentration is adorned. Perhaps shows a little less muscle power than the El Esquilon 2016, but what this wine lacks in density and brute force it more than compensates with finesse, freshness, accessibility and mesmerising harmonious balance. This wine has certainly emerged unexpectedly out of the 2016 vintage shadows as a very special cuvee indeed and one that will impress the most demanding Tenerife red wine connoisseur. Drink now to 2030+

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

If it’s Pure Hedonistic Pleasure You Are Looking For, the New Vilafonté Series M 2016 Release is Probably For You…

I recently tasted and reviewed the 2016 Vilafonté Series C Cabernet Sauvignon based blend in London before its acclaimed launch in South Africa. What struck me with this wine as well as the Series M 2016 which I am tasting ahead of its 1st March release, is the distinctive quality evident in the wine. We all know 2015 was a red wine block buster but we were somehow led to believe that the drought conditions perhaps got the better of the wines in 2016?

Indeed 2016 was characterized by substantial drought conditions through the preceding winter and into the growing season. Warm, dry conditions in Spring were extremely favourable for a compact one week bloom period, leading to outstanding evenness of maturity in all vineyard blocks. The hot pre-harvest weather conditions and early picking, combined with concerns of fire risk, made for a uniquely demanding vintage. The Simonsberg mountain suffered fire damage, but fortunately, Vilafonté was not directly affected by fire nor smoke. Strategies implemented by the Vilafonté team protected the vines against heat, resulting in a surprisingly healthy vineyard with bright green leaves through harvest.

Harvest commenced on the 3rd of February and concluded on the 8th of March. In mid-February, the weather cooled and the Cabernet Sauvignon ripened under consistently cooler, more favourable circumstances than the early-season Merlot and Malbec, resulting in an unusually extended picking window. Severe drought conditions led to Vilafonté’s smallest per-hectare crop on record.

Vilafonté Series M 2016 Red Blend, WO Paarl, 14 Abv.

This red blend saw 22 months in 21% new French oak barrique with the balance aged in older French oak. The 2016 blend consists of 50% Malbec, 36% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc with 75 barrels or around 22,500 bottles produced. Lush and plush, this wine reveals a deep dark purple-garnet colour. While initially quite sweet, sappy and resinous on opening, a little time in glass allows the wine to gracefully compose itself and push its shoulders back to boldly reveal a beautiful nose of blackberry pie, cola, blueberry crumble, Ceylon tea, sweet cherry tobacco, sun raisined cranberry, a sweet toffee apple opulence and a gravelly, blackberry compote complexity. This wine is quite unlike many of the 2016 reds I have tasted, instead showing incredible aromatic lift, sweet berry fruited concentration, purity and a sense of utter winemaking control. With 50% of Malbec in the blend, the wine was always destined to resemble the more profound expressions of old vine La Consulta Malbecs from the Uco Valley in Argentina than any straight laced right bank blend dominated by Merlot or Cabernet Franc. But as I have learned over the last few years tasting the Vilafonté wines, this estate has taken Malbec to its heart and learnt to cherish the sappy sweet seductive opulence that this variety has offered as it has bedded into the local terroir. Indeed, its success can be regarded as one of the most significant fine wine phenomenons in the past 15 years and Vilafonté Series M personifies the potential of this grape married to the other classical Bordeaux varieties. My past experience of the Series M wines has taught me not to underestimate the satisfying underlying tension in the wines that sometimes take a few years to assert itself. This is no doubt an incredibly well crafted wine from one of the most up and coming wineries in South Africa and delivers a gorgeously honed hedonistic glass of vinous pleasure. Allow this wine to settle and gain more structural delineation with extra time in bottle, but if you simply can’t wait, pop it in a decanter for 2 hours and let the bouquet light up your life! Drink now to 2038+.

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Watch out for the South African release on the 1st of March 2019. For further information, click here: https://www.vilafonte.com/members/

Sardinian Wine But Not As You Know It – Tasting the Delicious New Garnacha not Guerra 2017 Rosso…

Mick O’Connell MW and Sardinian brother-in-law business partner Gianluca Cancedda finally deliver their third release in their Garnacha winemaking journey in Sardinia. Picked on the 27th and 28th of August 2017 from 250 and 350 metre altitude organic Garnacha vineyards, the date was actually slightly earlier than the lower Abv first release 2015 and second release 2016 vintage.

2017 was indeed very hot and dry but careful berry sorting ensured raisined grapes were discarded to avoid any jammy flavours during vinification. The wild yeast fermentation used only whole bunch clusters with the juice spending four days macerating on the skins.

Garnacha not Guerra 2017, Vino Rosso, Sardinia, 14 Abv.

The colour of this riper 2017 vintage is darker, blacker and more opaque but the nose retains an impressively expressive aromatic lift of cherry blossom, sweet lavender, grilled herbs, sweet raspberry confit, crushed gravel minerality and a lick of balsamic richness. On the palate, the hallmark Garnacha not Guerra drinkability is definitely evident with bright juicy acids but within the textural context of a slightly darker, blacker, broodier berry fruit profile together with more muscular, grippy mineral tannins. All this intensity translates into a slightly more serious offering but certainly no less delicious and mouth watering. It is going to be a wonderful wine to watch evolve and mature over the next 3 to 5 years.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Terroir Sense Fronteres – Launching Dominik Huber’s New Monsant Wines at Cabotte in London…

Dominik Huber was never destined to end up behind a desk in an office job. Son of a German butcher, he always desired a career path that would allow him to use his hands. In 2001 he started a wine project with Eben Sadie in Priorat, making the Terroir al Limit wines. After several years working together, Eben departed the project in 2012 to focus on his iconic Sadie Family Wines, leaving Dominik solo to refocus and try and take the winery and its wines on to the next level.

In 2015 Dominik finally managed to purchase his beloved Les Manyes Old Vine Grenache (1.5 ha) vineyard from a local farmer. But with this sale also came a parcel of 4 hectares of neighbouring vineyards. However, these vines were not DOC Priorat but DO Monsant… and so the new winery “project” found its inspiration.

Brisat 2017, DO Monsant, 12 Abv.

15 to 35 year old vines of 75% Grenache Blanc and 25% Macabeo grown on clay rich sandy soils at 300-350 metre altitude. Nose is rich and exotic with honied pear purée, pineapple pastille, savoury leesy bruised yellow orchard fruits and a slight oxidative, salty lift with a strong dusty mineral veil. The palate is cool, sleek and fresh with a lovely linear acidity and tension, smokey, stony minerality, wet river pebbles, ripe pears and yellow crunchy peach stone fruits. A real food wine that packs a punch.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Negre 2017, DO Monsant, 13 Abv.

15 to 35 year old vines of 75% Grenache Noir and 25% Carignan grown on clay rich sandy soils at 300-350 metre altitude. Colour is a surprisingly dense, dark purple black plum colour. Made using old school Burgundy techniques, 100% of the fruit was whole bunch fermented using native yeasts and minimal interaction for a gentle fermentation. The nose is a little reticent at first with subtle notes of black plum, black berry, sun ripened black cherry and savoury, earthy, meaty hints. The palate is more explosive with incredible layers of sweet & sour Victoria plum, tart black berries, a graphite rich stony minerality and complexing notes of sweet grilled herbs and spice. Deliciously bright fruited showing plenty of nervous energy, the finish is fine but drying with pin point dusty mineral graphite tannins. Should flesh out further with age as the coiled tension unwinds.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Dominik Huber at Cabotte Restaurant in London.

Vertebra de la Figuera 2017, DO Monsant, 12.5 Abv.

40 to 80 year old vines of 100% Grenache Noir grown on red clay and gypsum rich layered soils at 700 metres altitude. The high altitude yields grapes that produce a very light colour despite being vinified the same as the other darker wines. The nose is seductive and perfumed with lofty notes of cherry blossom, crushed strawberries, raisined cranberries and a raspberry rock candy confectionary note. The palate is linear and cool with laser like purity and textural light touch precision. The tannins are sleek and polished allowing the wine to tread very lightly despite its incredible intensity. The finish is taught and fine with delicious strawberry pip and stony mineral precision. Very impressive expression with a definite Burgundian feel.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Guix Vermell Negre 2017, DO Monsant, 13 Abv.

75 year old vines of 100% Grenache Noir grown on red clay rich with gypsum soil layers at 800 metres altitude. It has a beautiful bright purple ruby colour with the nose being richer, deeper, darker and creamier than the Vertebra, possessing an alluring depth of black plum, tart black berries, graphite, grey slate and dusty piquant exotic spices. There is a sense of something quite serious and profound in the glass with more classical austerity and dusty slatey mineral restraint tempering the bright vibrant fruit purity. Creamy dreamy wine with textured chalky tannins, this has the stuffing to age and the balance to evolve for sure. Something very special indeed that could finally put premium DO Monsant wines on the map. Let’s hope so.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

These wines will be launched more broadly in Europe in March but will be available from UK trade supplier Armit wines from February.

Putting the 2019 Platter 5 Star Wines through Their Paces – The Fine Wine Safari Assessment…

The Platter Wine Guide is the undisputed wine bible of South African wines. While this multi-award winning wine guide is not totally faultless in its approach to rating new release wines, it certainly is still the best all round annual informational resource guide a tourist or local South African wine enthusiast can buy.

So when Wines of South Africa UK presents the annual Platter Wine Guide 5 Star Tasting at the South African High Commission, it is always one of the most eagerly anticipated and well attended events for wine professionals whether they be journalists, a blogger, a wine commentator, restauranteur or a wine buyer.

Here is the Fine Wine Safari assessment of the 2019 Guide’s 5 Star wines. Over 70 wines were tasted and I have only listed the wines I rated 94 points or higher.

Whites:

Vergelegen G.V.B White 2015 

Varieties: 60% Schaapenberg Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon 

Region: Stellenbosch

95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016

Varieties: 100% Chardonnay

Region: Stellenbosch

96/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Restless River Ava Marie Chardonnay 2016

Varieties: 100% Chardonnay

Region: Upper Hemel-enAarde Valley

95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2017

Varieties: 100% Chenin Blanc

Region: Bot River, Overberg

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Botanica Mary Delany Chenin Blanc 2017

Varieties: 100% Chenin Blanc

Region: Citrusdal Mountain

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

David & Nadia Hoe-Steen 2017 

Varieties: 100% Chenin Blanc

Region: Swartland

95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW

David & Nadia Skaliekop 2017

Varieties: 100% Chenin Blanc

Region: Swartland

96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW

De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017

Varieties: 100% Chenin Blanc

Region: Stellenbosch

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

De Morgenzon The Divas 2017

Varieties: 100% Chenin Blanc

Region: Stellenbosch

97/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Thistle & Weed Duwweltjie Chenin Blanc 2017

Varieties: 100% Chenin Blanc

Region: Paarl

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

B Vintners Haarlem to Hope white blend 2017 

Varieties: 64% Chenin Blanc, 28% Semillon, 4% Muscat d’ Frontignan and 4% Muscat d’ Alexandrie 

Region: Stellenbosch

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Mullineux Old Vines 2017

Varieties: 65% Chenin Blanc, 13% Grenache Blanc, 10% Viognier, 10% Clairette Blanche, 2% Semillon Gris

Region: Swartland

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Sadie Palladius 2016

Varieties:  Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc, ClairetteBlanche , Viognier, Verdelho, Roussanne, Semillon Gris, Semillon Blanc and Palomino

Region: Swartland

96/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Savage white blend 2017

Varieties:  Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chenin Blanc

Region: Western Cape

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Stark-Condé The Field Blend 2017 

Varieties:  36% Chenin Blanc, 36% Roussanne, 17% Viognier, 11% Verdelho

Region: Stellenbosch, Jonkershoek Valley

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse white blend 2017

Varieties:  Roussanne, Chardonnay, Semillon, Clairette Blanche and Chenin Blanc

Region: Western Cape

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Red Wines:

Elemental Bob Graveyard Tinta Barocca 2017

Varieties:  100% Tinta Barocca

Region / WO: Stellenbosch

94/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Crystallum Cuvée Cinéma Pinot Noir 2017

Varieties:  100% Pinot Noir

Region: Hemel-enAarde

94/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Thelema Sutherland Petit Verdot Reserve 2015

Varieties:  100% Petit Verdot

Region: Elgin

94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Raats Cabernet Franc 2016

Varieties:  100% Cabernet Franc

Region: Stellenbosch

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2016

Varieties:  100% Cabernet Franc

Region: Stellenbosch

94/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Le Riche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Varieties:  100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Stellenbosch 

96/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Reyneke Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Varieties:  100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Stellenbosch 

94/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Warwick The Blue Lady Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Varieties:  100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Stellenbosch 

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Hartenberg CWG Auction Reserve Shiraz 2015

Varieties:  100% Shiraz

Region: Stellenbosch

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Mullineux Schist Roundstone Syrah 2016

Varieties:  100% Syrah

Region: Swartland

96/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah 2015

Varieties:  100% Syrah

Region: Swartland

94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Porseleinberg Syrah 2016

Varieties:  100% Syrah

Region: Swartland

95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Syrah 2015

Varieties:  100% Syrah

Region: Stellenbosch

94/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Erika O Syrah-Grenache Noir-Cinsault 2016

Varieties: 53 % Syrah, 28 % Grenache Noir and 19 % Cinsault

Region: Western Cape 

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Saronsberg Full Circle Red 2016 

Varieties: 82% Shiraz, 11% Grenache, 6%  Mourvèdre, 1% Viognier

Region: Tulbagh

94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015

Varieties: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot

Region: Stellenbosch

98/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Beeslaar Pinotage 2016 

Varieties:  100% Pinotage

Region: Stellenbosch

96/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2016 

Varieties:  100% Pinotage

Region: Stellenbosch

95/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Kanonkop Black Label 2016

Varieties:  100% Pinotage

Region: Stellenbosch

97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Sweet Wines:

Klein Constantia Estate Vin de Constance 2014 

Varieties:  100% Muscat de Frontignan

Region: Constantia

97/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2017

Varieties:  100% Riesling

Region: Elgin

96/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Mullineux Straw Wine 2017

Varieties: 100% Chenin Blanc 

Region: Swartland

97/100 Greg Sherwood MW

De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2016 

Varieties: 74% Touriga Nacional, 18% Tinta Barocca, 8% Tinta Roriz

Region: Calitzdorp

94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW

Tasting Domaine de la Romanee Conti 2016 New Releases – An Excellent Vintage Born of Tumult and Despair…

After the success of the 2015 vintage at Domaine de la Romanee Conti which Aubert de Villaine described as one of the three most successful vintages ever at the domaine, the wines from 2016 had a seemingly impossible act to follow. In the end, some incredibly beautiful wines were produced … “an unexpected success, which now places 2016 amongst the most perfect vintages of these past few years.” ~ Aubert de Villaine.

While the excellent 2015s were born out of a superb vintage and growing season, the 2016s were the prodigy of a tumultuous season, born out of tumult and even despair at great cost. The winter of 2015-2016 was very mild with none of the usual frosts or snow to cleanse the vineyards of latent pests and diseases. Budburst was early in April and the Spring was also the wettest on record with 516mm (20.31 inches) of rain between January and May making for a very busy time in the vineyard for the Chef de Culture Nicolas Jacob.

A momentary cessation of the dreary weather at the end of April was a false dawn with three days of savage frosts descending upon the vineyards of Montrachet, Batard Montrachet, Echezeaux and Grands Echezeaux, burning off virtually all the young shoots. The remaining vineyards in the DRC holdings were miraculously almost untouched yielding an average crop load of exceptional quality. Readings of anthocyanins and tannins taken around the 18th September were superior to even those in 2015. Harvesting started on the hill of Corton on the 23rd September.

Corton Grand Cru 2016

With an average vine age of 46, the three 2016 Corton vineyards yielded a miserly 22 hl/ha to produce 5,040 bottles. With a deep ruby colour, the aromatics of this wine offer up classically mineral, stony, dusty notes of chalk, limestone, unripe red cherries, small black berries, graphite and a touch of sappy stem spice and pink musk. Unmistakably cool climate Pinot Noir. The palate has fine focus and density, fanning out from the front of the mouth to enliven and invigorate the palate with tart red berry fruits, logan berries, cranberry and tart strawberry, all with a characterful mineral laden under tone. There is plenty of concentration, poise and a generous intensity all finely framed by fresh crunchy acids and powder-fine tannins. A very classy expression of Corton. One of the best ever from DRC?

(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Echezeaux and Grands Echezeaux were bottled only in Magnum format and not shown for tasting. 980 of the first and 710 of the latter, will be released at a later date. The yields were a spectacularly small 6hl/ha for the Echezeaux vines and 7hl/ha for the Grands Echezeaux vines. No decision has been made on the release date or who they will be offered to.

Romanee St Vivant Grand Cru 2016

The 2016 RSV vines of an average age of 38 years of age yielded a slightly higher 27 hl/ha or 15,648 bottles. Vintage similarities with the Corton continue here with extra powerful, lifted aromatics. Once again there is the ethereal perfume of sweet red and black berries, Parma violets, pink musk, pink rock candy and sappy strawberry cream all underpinned by classical stony mineral and crush limestone dust. The palate texture is supremely polished and harmonious with noticeably rich fruit concentration, a creamy intensity and pin point balance. This is a deliciously opulent headstrong RSV that shows off the vintage’s small yield concentration concisely. Wonderful length, profound sweet and sour cherry and strawberry promise and feminine, dreamy tannins. Very impressive and oh so mouth watering.

(Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Richebourg Grand Cru 2016

The vines in the DRC Richebourg parcel are now averaging 46 years of age and in 2016 yielded 24 hl/ha or 10,416 bottles. If ever there was a vintage that lends itself to the flamboyance of the DRC Richebourg style, you would imagine that the concentration and power of 2016 to be the perfect moment. Indeed, the nose is bold and opulent, rich and seductive showing a wonderfully lifted melange of red and black crunchy berries, exotic baking herbs, graphite spice and complexing dried tobacco leaf and cigar ash nuances. The palate shows fabulous fruit concentration and vibrant freshness but also clear and evident coiled spring tension and intensity, linear acids and an overall powerful, taught skeleton. The finish suggests great potential but is perhaps a little compressed at the moment. Another thoroughly beguiling, characterful, concentrated Richebourg.

(Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

La Tache Grand Cru Monopole 2016 

Produced from a monopole vineyard with vines averaging 51 years old, the site yielded 31 hl/ha or 21,768 bottles. This famous noble monopole Grand Cru produced a fabulously aristocratic expression in 2016 with floral, fragrant aromatics almost unmatched by any of the other wines. The lifted perfume of dried rose petals, cherry blossom, raspberry herbal tea and crushed violets mingles effortlessly with creamy, spicy red cherry, strawberry and small crunchy black berry fruit nuances. The palate too is powerful, regal and supremely polished with a seamless texture that boast authoritative dusty, powdery tannins harmoniously balanced by intense sappy, spicy red fruits and a leafy, red plum and loganberry confit concentration that lingers with such prowess. A impressively generous, rich and finely crafted La Tache that will turn many heads once again.

(Wine Safari Score: 98/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Romanee Conti Grand Cru Monopole 2016

This legendary vineyard now boasts vines with an average age of 57 years old. In 2016 the site yielded a modest 24 hl/ha or 5,280 bottles. Always producing a profound expression of Pinot Noir, the 2016 is no exception and boldly delivers a supremely complex array of aromatics that seem to have extra levels of depth and intrigue. Together with lifted, perfumed cherry blossom, rose petals and violets there is an extra broody, savoury, bruised red fruit and blood orange note that gracefully teases the senses. The palate as usual combines the most awesome fruit and acid intensity with creamy, supple mineral tannins and a sweet, sappy seductive old vine depth. What a beautiful wine with a splendidly tender, harmonious intensity and a confident, precise regal finish. Always a privilege to taste this wine.

(Wine Safari Score: 98+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Old Vines White Vertical Tasting in London From 2008 to 2017…

Chris Mullineux was recently in London to showcase a superb retrospective of Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Old Vine Whites from 2008 to current release 2017.

Interestingly, Chris mentioned that he thought 2003 was a date after which white blends really started to become famous with the release of now iconic white wines like Palladius from Eben Sadie. “At the time, it seemed a strange concept to blend Chenin Bland with exotic varieties like Roussanne, Viognier, Clairette Blanc, Verdelho etc. Now white blends are some of South Africa’s best wines in its offering.”

The Swartland is perfectly suited for white blends and Mulliineux Wines use Viognier, a pungent creamy grape that can be quite intense but is kept in check with the addition of small amounts of Clairette Blanche, with other varieties joining the blend for more recent vintages.

Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Old Vines White Vertical Tasting Led by Chris Mullineux:

Mullineux Old Vine White 2008 (86% Chenin Blanc, 7% Clairette Blanche, 7% Viognier)

13.5% Abv, 2.4 RS, 5.9 TA, 3.41 pH
Subtle notes of honey, white toast, bruised yellow orchard fruits and saline, oxidative peachy notes. Lovely dusty mineral vein adding aromatic complexity. Incredibly rich and textural, honied and fleshy with an unctuous mouthfeel, sweet caramelised peach notes, herbal peach tea spice and a harmonious, glycerol broad mouthfeel. Very complex and classy, pure and vibrant with pleasing oxidative nuances.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Old Vine White 2009 (61% Chenin Blanc, 23% Clairette Blanche, 16% Viognier)

134% Abv, 3.4 RS, 5.7 TA, 3.25 pH
From a warmer year, this shows more pithy, dusty, fynbos herbal lift, with plenty of gravel and stone fruit aromatics. Notes of honey, dried peach and dried guava roll with a maritime saline lift. Palate is beautifully creamy, sleek and balanced with amazing fleshy, peachy pastille fruit, dried yellow fruits and a real focused, pinpoint, intense finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Old Vine White 2010 (80% Chenin Blanc, 10% Clairette Blanche, 10% Viognier)

13.5% Abv, 2.8 RS, 5.9 TA, 3.21 pH
Creamy, limey, waxy when it was young. Now the wine retains a more Burgundian presence with dusty vanilla pod, lemon pastille, dried mint leaf and baking herbs with subtle white citrus and granitic minerality. Palate is taut, mineral, focused and tight with honey and lime peel, lime cordial, buttered brown toast and a delicious crunchy, bright, crystalline green apple pastille finish. Young, bright and super youthful. Precision personified. Really exceptional!

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tasting with UK based South African restauranteur Neleen Strauss and Chris Mullineux.

Mullineux Old Vine White 2011 (65% Chenin Blanc, 26% Clairette Blanche, 9% Viognier)

13% Abv, 2.3 RS, 5.7 TA, 3.38 pH
A more spicy, lifted, piquant nose with spicy roasted almonds, walnut skins, buttered sweet corn and ripe lemon cordial. Palate is finely balanced with fleshy soft mouthfeel, vanilla and white toast drizzled with honey finishing with a sleek creamy texture and wonderful focus and harmonious, mellow balance. Despite spicy oxidative notes on the bouquet, the palate is super fresh and youthful.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Old Vine White 2012 (76% Chenin Blanc, 16% Clairette Blanche, 8% Viognier)

13.5% Abv, 3.2 RS, 5.1 TA, 3.45pH
Quite an even vintage, not too hot or dry. Rich, creamy and round, with very fine purity, liquid mineral depth with pithy lemon peel, dusty gravel, piquant almond and roasted nuts. Palate is soft and broad, creamy and harmonious with quite a fleshy full mouthfeel, loaded with ripe glucerol fruit weight and finishes with very soft mellow acids. Cool and dreamy, still very youthful.

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Old Vine White 2013 (80% Chenin Blanc, 13% Clairette Blanche, 7% Viognier)

13.5% Abv, 1.5 RS, 5.8 TA, 3.29 pH
Above average rainfall in the Swartland, this was the last vintage where the Mullineux’s owned none of their own vineyards. The nose is quite sappy and herbal with notes of fynbos, dried mint leaf, green apple, piquant almond skins and dusty chalky notes. Palate shows great tension, focus and a deep core of glycerol yellow orchard fruit weight. Creamy yet fresh, crystalline and taut with out being too fat. Very youthful but in a slightly awkward phase at the moment. Leave in the cellar!

(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Old Vine White 2014 (73% Chenin Blanc, 13% Clairette Blanche, 10% Viognier, 4% Semillon Gris)

13.5% Abv, 2.7 RS, 5.6 TA, 3.5 pH
A big ripe opulent wine loaded with peach purée, honey, white toast and crushed gravel minerality. Plenty of aromatic gusto and power leading to a palate that equally shows impressive power and depth all in a subtly restrained framework of elegance and harmony. Peaches and creamy, lemon pastille, peach bon bons and a harmonious, mellow intense finish. Super young and backward, texturally very fine, but needs more time to blossom. A real classic and one of Andrea’s personal favourites.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Old Vine White 2015 (74% Chenin Blanc, 12% Clairette Blanche, 6% Viognier, 4% Semillon Gris, 4% Grenache Blanc)

14% Abv, 2.2 RS, 5.2 TA, 3.30pH
After a wet 2014, this year saw around half of the annual rainfall with most falling in winter and almost none in summer months. Yields were naturally low and some fruit was dropped. The wine shows great textural intensity and concentration but also fine freshness and power. The nose is full of white blossom, pineapple pastille, citrus rock candy and creamy lemon biscuits. The palate follows the nose showing massive intensity, huge peachy concentration and a long crystalline finish. Young and bold, bury this in your cellar for 5 to 8+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Old Vine White 2016 (62% Chenin Blanc, 15% Grenache Blanc, 11% Viognier, 8% Clairette Blanche, 4% Semillon Gris)

13% Abv, 2.5 RS, 5.1 TA, 3.31 pH
Very dusty and chalky with notes of dry bush veld and fynbos, sweet botanical herbs and a savoury, peachy, earthy bruised orchard fruit complexing note. Palate is taut and tight, showing impressive tension and precision, a delicious orange peel and honeysuckle note and a superbly long, concentrated finish that shows the intensity of a drought year but also the precision of expert winemaking using fruit from great terroirs. Delicious now but certainly a keeper.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Old Vine White 2017 (65% Chenin Blanc, 13% Grenache Blanc, 10% Clairette, 10% Viognier, 2% Semillon Gris)

13.5 Abv. 2.1 RS, 5.6 TA, 3.46 pH
Second year of drought with 280mm rain and slightly more than 2016 with some falling in January to help the vines recuperate as they neared harvest time. Following in the vein of the larger more complex blend, the wine shows massive aromatic complexity unfurling layers of dusty white peach, dried herbs, citrus blossom, honey, yellow fruits and a pronounced liquid mineral intensity. The palate shows spectacular focus and precision, pin point textural harmony and balance where the wine slips off the tongue leaving a powerful, unctuous, long, concentrated imprint on the senses. Super interplay between fruit intensity, acid freshness and liquid minerality with intelligent winemaking drawing the best out of these great Swartland terroirs. A very very impressive wine indeed. Another one for the cellar!

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Radicales Libres White blend 2012, WO Swartland, 14.5 Abv.

(76% Chenin Blanc, 16% Clairette Blanche, 8% Viognier) Deliciously alluring nose showing incredible richness and high tone complexity. Super exotic with notes of peach tea, vanilla pod spice, lemon biscuits, orange blossom pastille, dried yellow peaches and subtle hints of barley sugar. The palate reveals incredible richness and fruit concentration where you really feel the power of the wine amplified by the process of extended, oxidative barrel ageing. There is cedar spice, creamy vanilla wood tannins but also such incredible length that the palate gives the illusion of an addition of dollop of straw, ginger, grapefruit and candied fig. Incredible expression. Drink now to 2040+. Another unicorn wine from the Mullineux’s and one of my Top 10 SA Whites of 2018.

(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Many thanks to Berry Bros and Rudd for hosting this fascinating tasting in their St James’s Cellars. Mullineux Wines available to the trade in the UK through Fields, Morris & Verdin.