The Bizios Estate in Greece’s Nemea Region Releases Its 2018 Asproskampos White Blend…

Elias Bizios is the owner of an impressive estate in Asproskampos, known to the locals as “little Tuscany” in Nemea, Greece. Here Elias has farmed a small patch of vineyards but always found it difficult to make a living with such a small production. So it was always his ambition to acquire additional adjoining vineyard holdings to increase his production. 

In 2016, Wimbledon Wine Cellar owned by Greek Cypriot Andrew Pavli based in London, purchased an additional 3 hectares of prime Malagouzia, Agiorgritiko Assyrtiko and Chardonnay vineyards with view to enlarging the total production at the Bizios Estate. This increased production has now started to come to fruition and the release of the 2018 white blend modelled predominantly around the Malagouzia grape but bolstered by the classism and pedigree of Chardonnay has created yet another exceptional white expression that really shows the potential of well made Greek white wines.

Bizios Aspros Kampos Chardonnay Malagouzia Blend 2018, Nemea, Greece, 13 Abv.

The 2018 vintage is a delicious blend of 65% Chardonnay and 35% Malagouzia ia and presents itself as an impressively fragrant, aromatic expression full of waxy green apples, spiced pears, dried baking herbs, warm fresh white baguette and a fine dusty stony mineral note. The palate is equally appealing with a really harmonious fleshy glycerol round mouthfeel boasting notes of green honeydew melon, apple pastilles and candied sweet fig. The acidity is supple, soft and gentle and keeps the wine pure and vibrant but also incredibly generous and friendly. A really appealing expression and one of my favourites since the 2016!

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

Mullineux and Leeu Family Wines Release Another Sublime Range of New Single Terroir Vintages…

Ask any international critic to mention their top 5 prestige fine wine producers in South Africa and without doubt Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines will feature in the lineup regardless of whether that person is a Syrah or Chenin Blanc obsessive.

Within their range, it is undoubtedly the Single Terroir releases from Andrea and Chris Mullineux representing different terroir expressions that year on year push the boundaries of quality but have also cemented this estate’s international standing amongst the great wineries of the world.

Whether buying for further cellaring or as a sneaky investment, this range of Mullineux wines represents a star buy. Available from Great Domaines in South Africa, Skurnik Wines in the USA and Fields Morris & Verdin in the UK.

Mullineux Granite Chenin Blanc 2018, WO Swartland

Produced from two 42-year-old parcels on the Paardeberg, the wine shows attractive sweet crunchy green fruits, massive palate concentration of green melon, sweet lemon and herb spice and a very long, plush, bon bon infused candied finish. Plenty of texture and mouthfeel but also a fabulously confident vein of steely Chenin acidity. Truly classy.

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

Mullineux Quartz Leliefontein Chenin Blanc 2018, WO Swartland

From a single 37-year-old vineyard on the Kasteelberg. This youthful wine is steely, tighter and more mineral with dried herbs, lemon grass, apple peel, pithy green fruits and crunchy orchard fruits nuances. Broad and fleshy, a very harmonious mid-palate dominates with the fruit / acid / mineral balance beautifully integrated and seemless. Lovely vein of acidity with impressive generosity and appeal.

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

Mullineux Granite Syrah 2017, WO Swartland

Fruit sourced from a 23-year-old vineyard on the Paardeberg. Shows high toned notes of red fruit, raspberry confit, cherries dipped in chocolate, cinnamon and exotic sweet clove tobacco spice. Sleek, opulent and generous, immaculately polished, concentrated yet weightless, this is super classy and elegant with a certain deft feminine touch.

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

Mullineux Schist Roundstone Syrah 2017, WO Swartland

This beautifully manicured 20-year-old vineyard on the Mullineux’s Kasteelberg farm Roundstone shows a more tight and broody expression with darker, blacker berry fruits and more classical notes of black olive, cured meets, earthy savoury black plum and a sweet black peppercorn tinged berry spice finish. A super sleek, elegant and consummately confident, self assured polished expression of premium Syrah that epitomises the whole Mullineux red wine experience.

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

Mullineux Iron Syrah 2017, WO Swartland

This single 18-year-old vineyard near Malmesbury is perhaps never as seductive as the Schist cuvée when young but perhaps it’s the extra stern profile that always makes this one of my favourites. A big, bold wine that combines the old world savoury, mineral character of the Northern Rhône with the new world elegance of the Swartland. Plenty of dried allspice, grilled herbs, massively savoury and bloody with a meaty density and a plush, powerful textural depth, spicy, stony mineral tannins and a long, long rasping, powerful chalky length. The very best of both Old and New World styles, this wine is more challenging but will be infinitely more rewarding in the long run.

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

Three Sticks Release their New Benchmark Durell Vineyard Chardonnay 2016…

This week in late September was all about Californian wine in London with the Collectable California Tasting at the US Embassy showcasing some incredible wines from Harlan to Scarecrow, Ovid to Silver Oak. However great the Californian reds are, one thing these US producers are masters of is the production of really interesting premium Chardonnay.

One of my favourite whites on show was the exceptional 2016 new release Three Sticks Chardonnay. Owned by proprietor William S. Price III, the Durell Vineyard forms part of this producers flagship vineyard holdings and has been the source of iconic Sonoma Chardonnay for several decades.

Grown on rocky ancient river bed and red volcanic clay soils, this vineyard site has been recognised for its ability to produce exceptional Chardonnay grapes that show wonderful fruit intensity along with impressive harmony while simultaneously expressing the minerality inherent in this site’s terroir.

Three Sticks Durell Vineyard Chardonnay 2016, Sonoma Coast, 14.5 Abv.

A delicious bright enticing lemon yellow, this wine has a lofty complex bouquet of pithy white citrus, leesy lemon cream biscuits, dried herbs, gingerbread and a pronounced crushed gravel minerality. Full, round, intense and glycerol in the mouth with the silky, fleshy lemon pastille fruit concentration punctuated by piquant, zippy fresh acids and sweet grapefruit confit and vanilla pod oak complexity. The pedigree of the Durell Vineyard fruit is clear for all to see. Classically cool climate Californian in style, this is a truly flavour packed expression of premium Sonoma coast Chardonnay.

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

Niels Verburg’s Monumental 2018 Bot River Luddite Chenin Blanc Finally Launched in the UK Market…

Here in the UK, the wine trade is usually always a vintage behind a wine’s home market. That can be great luck when a wine scores highly and sells out quickly locally but then resurfaces weeks or months later as a new release in an international market. That’s pretty much the scenario with Niels Verburg’s 2018 Luddite Chenin Blanc.

I only recently retasted and reviewed the 2014 vintage but was very pleased to fast forward this week and taste his delicious and hugely impressive 2018 that is just landing in the UK. There are so many exceptional Chenin Blanc whites around South Africa at the moment, most coming from Stellenbosch, Paarl and the Swartland. But this Bot River expression is different, showing an exotic complexity with an extra little je ne sais quoi. I can only put that down to the terroir of the Bot River region. Quantities are small so you’ll need to be quick off the mark to secure stock.

Luddite Chenin 2018, WO Bot River, 11.5 Abv.

Fabulously powerful aromatics of honeysuckle, lemon cordial, freshly sawn acacia, Seville oranges, pineapple pastille and a wet river stone minerality. The palate is super sleek and focused, vibrantly fresh with a sweet / sour acidity, fine textural fleshy breadth and a bold savoury saline bite on the finish. Lovely expression of premium Chenin Blanc that has its own unique character.

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

Tasting A Superb Archive Vertical with Beyerskloof Icon Winemaker Beyers Truter…

You simply don’t get bigger names in South African winemaking folklore than Beyers Truter who undoubtedly made his name and established it on the global wine map producing the fine wines of Kanonkop. While winemaker there he won numerous prestigious awards including the highly coveted Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Trophy for the World’s Best Red Blend with his iconic Paul Sauer 1991 Bordeaux blend.

But the true love affair in Beyer’s life has always been another grape variety, Pinotage which will probably be the one that defines his lasting legacy and high standing in the South African Winemaking Hall of Fame.

Like a school boy watching their Springbok rugby idols on tv, I used to stand in awe of Beyers whenever I’d attend a wine tasting. But of course many of those school boys came good and ended up playing rugby alongside their idols. I too grew up, became qualified in wine and now feel honoured to call people like Beyers Truter a good friend. One will never shake off the surreal feeling that accompanies these unique paths in life.

In 2019 it was with great honour that I was invited to judge on the ABSA Top 10 Pinotage Competition overseen by the Pinotage Association and of course Beyers Truter. It was a truly fantastic and enlightening experience getting to taste and assess so many top expressions of Pinotage in one moment. But after judging was completed, I could not pass up on the opportunity to visit the great man himself at his eponymous winery Beyerskloof to taste through a fabulous archive selection of his wines.

The Stellenbosch estate was planted in 2003 and started using their own fruit from the 2007/8 vintages.

Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2005, WO Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, 14 Abv.

Normally a combination 30% New oak using a selection of 2 or 3 better blocks. Bright earthy brambly nose with graphite an wood spice. Bright crisp acids with vibrant nervy black fruits and a savoury, steely finish. Holding up very well.

(Wine Safari 90+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2004, WO Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, 14 Abv.

Rich savoury oak complexity with boot polish, black cherry and graphite notes. Palate shows sweet and sour plum, plenty of punchy depth, mineral tannins and fine pin point freshness.

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood)

Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2003, WO Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, 15 Abv.

From a warm, dry year, the nose shows slightly riper baked, sun dried fruit notes, strawberry jam, raisined cranberries and a round opulence with a creamy oak profile, plenty of generosity and great drinkability. The aromatics may have suffered from the heat but the palate fruit is certainly vital and punchy.

(Wine Safari Score: 89/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Beyerskloof Synergy 2006 Cape Blend, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5 Abv.

A blend of 41% Pinotage, 41% Shiraz, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot. Rich bright youthful nose, this is a really complex melange of black fruits, and savoury meaty fruit. On the palate there is a smokey charcoal embers spice, gun smoke and sweet black fruit, cured meats and clean bright acids.

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

Beyerskloof Synergy 2005 Cape Blend, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5 Abv.

A blend of 50% Pinotage, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. Savoury ripe brambly fruits, earth and wood spice. The palate is vibrant yet mature, but shows a beautiful texture and polish demeanour. There are some stewed fruit notes to begin but the lasting impression is overt opulence, good purity and a harmonious texture.

(Wine Safari Score: 90/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Beyerskloof Synergy 2004 Cape Blend, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5 Abv.

A blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Pinotage, 30% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. Opulent nose of sweet wet tobacco, cassis, black cherry and blue berry fruits. Wonderfully sleek, lithe, harmonious and finely poised with light touch tannins, superb acidity and an overall youthful persona. Delicious.

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

Beyerskloof Field Blend 2009, WO Stellenbosch, 14 Abv.

A blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Merlot. Aged in 100% new French oak for 21-23 months. Attractive fragrant nose of dried mint leaf, potpourri, violets and savoury black currant and black plum. Grilled herbs and spice show a more compact, dense vintage that is 2009 with multi layers of flavour, texture and nuanced black berry complexity. A very smart expression.

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

Beyerskloof Field Blend 2008, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5 Abv.

A blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Merlot. Dark deep, broody black fruit with notes of grilled herbs, sweet tobacco, black currant and leafy spice. The palate shows a sappy sweet / sour note, spicy wood tannins and good opulence but the showy nose is a little less revealing on the palate finishing with stewed red fruit notes.

(Wine Safari Score: 89/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Beyerskloof Field Blend 2007, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5 Abv.

A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. Cool dark broody nose with earthy sweet smokey spicy black fruits, tobacco and tannery leather, mint leaf and savoury black currant. Fleshy, balanced, a touch of sappy leafy fruit and a graphite finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 88+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Release Two Incredible Benchmark Wines For the 2019 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction…

One of the original goals of the Cape Winemakers Guild was to allow an elite group of producers in South Africa an opportunity to push boundaries and experiment in order to produce the most profound quality wines on the market. Some of the specially selected winemakers at the CWG have made a little more effort than most to take this opportunity to make and profile wines that leave you speechless and that command instant respect.

Few have done this more effectively than Andrea Mullineux, one half of the wunderkind duo at Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines. The other half of this duo, Chris Mullineux was recently in London for the New Wave Tasting 2019 and I caught up with him over lunch at the iconic Chez Bruce restaurant to taste not only these two new CWG releases, but also the full line up of their white and red single terroir new releases.

The CWG wines are only available to buy at the auction in Cape Town but if you can’t make it, speak to Roland Peens at Wine Cellar who can bid on behalf of consumers and private clients. Contact him at: Roland@winecellar.co.za

Cape Winemakers Guild Leeu Passant ‘The Gris’ Semillon Old Vines 2018, WO Paardeberg, 13.5 Abv.

Super fragrant and lifted with aromatics dominated by an incredible saline, mineral spicy note underpinned by stalk spice, tangerine peel and white citrus. Creamy and glycerol on the palate, the concentration is clearly marked and the white blossom, green apple and briney pithiness is effortless and magically long. Outstanding effort once again.

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

Cape Winemakers Guild Leeu Passant Radicales Libres Chardonnay, 14.9 Abv.

Grapes from Bokkeveld Shale soils on the Tradauw-Joubert estate in Barrydale but produced and aged in the Leeu Passant cellars in Franschhoek. The aromatic profile screams ‘Jura meets Tondonia’ with plush saline, spicy, peppery white citrus fruits with top notes of dusty, stony minerality. The palate is big and bold but very expressive with density, breadth and incredible concentration. Of course the wine is defined by superb balance, piercing acidity which is padded out by sensual fleshy savoury fruit gravitas. The finish shows fabulous crystallised lemons, white peach pastilles and an exotic candied persistence. Really something very special.

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

Sam Lambson and His Minimalist Wines First Release Syrah Take the London Wine Trade By Storm…

I first met the talented Sam Lambson in early 2018 in a corner of Bertus Basson’s Spec & Bone restaurant while out drinking one evening with a few winemakers. While chatting, he mentioned he was studying winemaking and had made his own first wine that was still in barrel. Roll forward 18 months and Sam is in his final year of a BSc Oenology degree at the University of Stellenbosch – the perfect place to meet, and learn from, many of the region’s most talented winemakers.

On our first meeting, I did not have the good fortune to taste a barrel sample of his wine but was impressed enough to pass on his details and story to fellow Master of Wine and SA wine importer Richard Kelley MW. Richard signed Sam up and imported a small amount of his tiny volume maiden release Syrah, Stars in the Dark 2018, made from fruit located in the extreme terroir of Elim.

Anyone who has been to the area will know how cold and inhospitable the Agulhas coast can be … not an easy spot for vines to grow. There’s little rain, the winds howl and the shallow, layered shales and koffieklip-littered soils of Elim provide little nourishment for vines.

The Elim Ward is located near Cape Agulhas which is the real Southern tip of African and not Cape Point like so many visitors believe.

The ripening season is cool and lengthy yet, with their roots driven deep, the tenacious Syrah vines on this 19-year old parcel bear minute, concentrated berries with electric natural acidity. As Sam says, “some of the best things in life emerge from tough times and dark places.” Coming out the other side of depression himself has certainly taught him that. “It’s a message no other place articulates quite as elegantly as Elim.”

This wine, already sold out in the local South African market, was one of the star attractions at the recent New Wave Tasting 2019 in London in early September. However there is a small amount of stock in the UK so get your hands on a few bottles of this excellent maiden release. It’s a unicorn wine waiting to happen!

Minimalist Wines Stars in the Dark Syrah 2018, WO Elim, 13.5 Abv.

A 100% pure Syrah red with piercing black fruit aromatics that chime with seductive cherry blossom, crushed violets and dried lavender perfume which rises imperiously out the glass before the nose reverts back to more traditional Northern Rhône Syrah notes of black olive tapenade, cured meats, German deli and a saline black currant fruit intensity. The palate shows ample stony mineral tannins that underpin the fresh, cool zippy coastal acids supported by a wonderful background note of kelp and ocean sea breeze. A really super classy maiden release red from this quality obsessive producer. Sam Lambson is definitely a star to watch. Pop some of these in your cellar for a couple of years and drink over the next 5 to 10+ years.

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