Assessing the New Releases from Mullineux Wines – Part 3: Tasting the Olerasay 3º Solera Straw Wine…

Every year since 2008 the Mullineuxs have made a vintage Straw Wine. The two vineyards they chose to make this very sweet but incredibly special Straw Wine are naturally very high in acid, flavour and structure. This way, when they pick the grapes at normal ripeness and then dry them outside during the desiccation process, they are not just concentrating sugar and flavour but also increasing the intense, zesty acidity that is so critically important when making a balanced Straw Wine.

After drying the grapes for several weeks, the grapes are crushed and pressed into barrel where a long, slow natural fermentation takes place. Along with the concentration of acids in the wine, there is a concentration of specifically the malic acid. This high level of malic acid prevents the onset of Malolactic fermentation, which of course seems counter intuitive. The wine always stops its slow fermentation naturally after 8-10 months, so no additional intervention takes place and (here’s where the difference is), while the vintage Straw Wine is bottled, a few barrels are selected that go into a special Solera system of barrel aging that was started with their first Mullineux vintage back in 2008. They decided to bottle the first iteration of OLERASAY (1º) that was a fractional blend of 2008 to 2014, when it was different enough from the regular vintage straw wine. The 2º bottling then took place five years later when the 2008-2019 OLERASAY was considered different enough from the first release.

Now they are releasing the OLERASAY 3º which has not only completed the original drying process off the vine but has continued to concentrate and stabilise in barrel over all of those years, concentrating again in sugar, flavour and natural acidity but also in extract, layers of mouthfeel and additional complexity. As Andrea confidently says… “this wine is bulletproof.” The maiden release was a real revelation and took the market by storm. In a world where apparently fine wine drinkers don’t buy sweet wine anymore, the wine received a rapturous welcome from consumers and collectors alike. The 5,000+ plus bottle production did not last very long in the market making the five year long wait until the second release a very thirsty and gruelling period of time for sweet wine lovers. The second release was rated 99/100 by A FINE WINE SAFARI and an astonishing 100/100 by Neal Martin at VINOUS Media. All eyes are now on the third, smaller bottling, and if initial mutterings from critics are anything to go by, this wine should continue the incredible success the OLERASAY brand has enjoyed since its inception.

Mullineux OLERASAY 3º, WO Swartland, 8.42% Abv.

375 g/l RS | 11.2 g/l TA | 3.3 pH

Picked with yields around 4 tons per hectare with a balling of 22 at harvest, the concentration and intensity of this wine is clear to see from the word go. The aromatics on opening initially were slightly more boldly fruity with youthful nuances of peaches and dried apricot, marmalade, passion fruit and honey. But with a little time and exposure to air, the nose becomes a lot more perfumed and intricate as it starts to unfurl to show more of its solera complexity. The aromatics display notes of dried rose petals, peach tea, chamomile and honey and an underlying note of dried straw, freshly baked apple strudel pastries and crème brulee. On the palate the texture is dreamy and plush, superbly balanced with a silky soft glycerol texture that glides off the tongue like a drop of oil on a block of ice. The intensity is focused and fabulously potent with incredible depth and breadth without ever becoming too unctuous, overwhelming, or too sweet thanks to a deliciously intense, invigorating tangy acidity. The finish is splendidly long and persistent leaving an attractive aftertaste of caramelized almonds, marzipan and dried guava roll. Simply pitch perfect. What else can one say other than this truly is an extraordinary and unique vinous creation. Drink now and over the next 40+ years. (1,800 x 375cl bottles released.)

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

Perseverance Prevails – Klein Constantia Unveils Their New Vin de Constance 2019 Release in London…

Welcoming Klein Constantia’s winemaker Matt Day back to London after several years of pandemic imposed isolation in the Cape presented the perfect opportunity to unveil the new 2019 Vin de Constance – a wine which I believe represents the culmination of the past 10 years experimentation, innovation and tweaking to create something that reaches new quality heights. Coming from a very long and late harvest, the wine sees a move away from long 6 to 12 month ferments to a quicker, more precise 1 to 3 month fermentation.

The spring of 2018 was cold, wet and windier than usual, which impacted flowering and resulted in smaller berries and a reduced crop. Cooler conditions throughout the growing season meant that ripening was slower than normal, and pushed back the harvest. The late harvest and unpredictable autumn weather conditions forced Klein Constantia’s vineyard team to be reactive and disciplined with their assessment of perfect ripeness.

The 2019 harvest was short, taking place from late February until the end of March in warm and dry conditions that alleviated the risk of disease. In total, 26 separate different passes were made through the vineyards, collecting grapes turning from high acidity to more intense sugar levels with every passage, each being vinified separately. The different lots were aged for 18 months in 50% new French and Hungarian oak barrels, followed by a further 18 months in large foudres before blending and bottling.

Winemaker Matt Day presenting the new Vin de Constance 2019 in London.

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2019, WO Constantia Valley, 13.9% Abv.

166g/l RS | 6.1g/l TA | 3.71pH

The 2019 displays an incredibly opulent, powerful aromatic profile brimming full of grapefruit preserve, lychees, white peaches, green melon confit and melted honey on warm white toast. What purity and precision! The wine sticks perfectly to the estate’s mission statement trying to make a sweet wine that tastes not particularly sweet regardless of its actual 166 g/l RS. This is achieved through an incredible balance and harmony with a palate texture showing a sublime equilibrium between acid, alcohol and fruit intensity. Beautifully complex and layered with hints of peach iced tea, pink musk, pear purée, quince jelly and candied citrus bon bons. Very classy indeed and undoubtedly one of the best modern vintages to be made at the estate. Drink now and over the next 30+ years.

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

To add extra perspective on the quality of the 2019, Matt Day showed a range of older Vin de Constance vintages including the 2016, the 2012, the 2004 and the rare 1991.

Klein Constantia’s Vin de Constance – Still the King of South African Sweet Wines…

Vin de Constance as we all know was drunk by Napoleon in exile and helped sooth lovers’ broken hearts in Charlotte Bronte novels but more significantly, was regarded as one of the most desirable sweet wines in the world often selling for higher prices than Bordeaux’s grandest red wines.

Now days, the winery employs the services of one of the most talented young winemakers in South Africa, Matt Day, who has whole heartedly embraced the quality vision promoted by the new(ish) owners, to make Vin de Constance one of the most desirable sweet wines in the world once again.

It’s actually not too often one gets to drink the older vintages now days but when they do pop up at lunches or dinners, they are always a truly wonderful vinous treat. I recently had the pleasure of enjoying the 21 year old 1997 Vin de Constance at lunch and it was every bit as riveting as expected. My advise is not to neglect this style when purchasing wines to cellar as they will certainly reward patience and appreciate in value.

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 1997, WO Constantia, 14.5 Abv.

Dark golden molasses brown with orange brick rim, this wine is super expressive, complex and intricate showing tertiary aromas of brown sugar, brûléed oranges, barley sugar, honeyed nuts and molasses hints. A subtle toffee apple and burnt sugar opulence underpins the palate which is wonderfully multidimensional, layered with caramelised orange peel, sweet peach ice tea and piquant Seville orange marmalade nuances. Incredible intensity, a regal sugar / acid balance and a superbly focused depth. A really awesome sweet wine expression. Drink now or bury in your cellar for another decade or two.

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

With Klein Constantia Winemaker Matt Day in London recently.

The Tenerife Wine Odyssey ~ Tasting Suertes del Marques Blanco Dulce Solera NV (Nov 2014 Edition)…

Since circa 2011, Suertes del Marques has produced a tiny amount of dessert wine from primarily Listan Blanco. The must is drawn off the other white cuvées and fermented to around 8 or 9 Abv before being fortified with spirit to 15% Abv. Only around 100 x 50cl bottles are produced each year and are marked with the date they were drawn from the Solera. They did not have an accurate spec sheet for the wine when I visited, but based on taste, this wine must have an RS of between 80 and 120 g/l residual sugar(?)


Suertes del Marques Blanco Dulce Solera NV (Nov 2014 Edition), Listan Blanco / Malvasia Aromatica, Valle de la Orotava DO, Tenerife, 15 Abv.

The colour is striking, being a wonderfully translucent shade of old gold and dark straw. On the nose, the senses are assaulted with notes of caramelised nuts, toffee apples, butterscotch, Madagascan vanilla pod, caramelised white peaches and the most vivid Sauternes like notes of dried apricots and bruleed oranges. But this is neither a late harvested wine nor a botrytis wine, and so the fruit aromatics remain pure and intense. The palate reveals great harmony and elegance, superb integration of sweet fruit and vanilla oak spice notes with seamless fresh acids and a long, honied, nutty finish. There are no clawing sugary notes or any tiring jammy fruits. Everything is superbly well proportioned and eminently drinkable. I expressed my dismay that Suertes del Marques don’t commercialise this wine further. It’s so delicious and food friendly (we enjoyed a bottle with Tenerife goats cheese and walnuts) that it would certainly find an instant cult following on the dinner party tables of London. In the past, only a handful of bottles were exported, but hopefully we will see a little more of this wine in London.

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