Leeu Passant ~ The Most Exciting New Releases From South Africa in Years…

Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines have always been all about bottling the great vineyard expressions of site and soils of the Swartland. This week saw the first new vinous additions to the growing Mullineux legacy in the form of Leeu Passant. 


The new range consists of two terroir specific Chardonnays and a dry red blend, which is a deconstruction and reconstruction of the venerable Cape wines of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s with almost equal portions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and a “modern” twist of Cabernet Franc.With the European Launch of Leeu Passant set to take place in London on the 5th April, when I’ll be in Bordeaux tasting En-primeur 2016 wines, it was fortuitous that I was staying with Chris and Andrea in the Swartland at just the right moment to experience these wines pre-release.


Below are my initial impressions and ratings of this profound new threesome of whites and reds…


Leeu Passant Elandskloof Chardonnay 2015, 14 Abv.

Very rich intense opulent nose, layers of pineapple pastille fruits, green apple and green citrus crunch. All natural ferment with indigenous yeasts, and all natural malolactics. Complex sweet green fruits, subtle creamy oak from 12 months ageing and another 10 months in bottle. The palate is taught, fresh and crunchy, some waxy white peach notes, flinty minerality and a noticeably cool, restrained dry finish. Plenty of power with animated subtlety. 

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


Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2015, 14 Abv.

This is a blockbuster wine. Sweet green quince, crunchy pears and pineapple pastille fruits, Bon Bon green apple crunch and subtle hints of struck match reductive complexity and gravelly, saline pithy fruit. Incredible acidity showing real power and drive, and incredible precision. High acid, bottled at 8 TA. Also such subtle, considerate oak use, fine integration of fruit and acids and again, like the Elandskloof version, finishes bone dry and elegantly restrained. A very impressive, complex Meursault’esque Stellenbosch Chardonnay illustrating the grandeur and terroir of this premium SA region. Superb… A must buy for Chardonnay obsessives! 

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


Leeu Passant Dry Red Blend 2015, 13.5 Abv.

36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc, 31% Cinsaut. 

The Wellington Cinsault at 117 years old is the oldest recorded Cinsault vineyard in SA, blended with a more youthful 91 year old vineyard from Franschhoek. The Helderberg Cabernet Sauvignon is 36 years old and the Cabernet Franc 18 to 20 years old. Lovely peppery, spicy leafy nose of plum, peppercorns, sweet bramble berries, hedgerow, bergamot and sappy cherry spice. There’s a real opulent confit fruit character, impressive ripeness, fragrant but simultaneously mineral and restrained. There is also a real dusty granitic vein, a chalky, spicy texture and sweet red currant and raspberry sappy fruit. Punchy, intense, really focused but with real mouthwatering drinkability. Beautifully fine harmonious texture, and tight polished tannins. A true testament to South Africa’s red winemaking heritage. A very classy wine.

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

Volumes PER wine: Elandskloof  Chardonnay ~ 2000 bottles, Stellenbosch Chardonnay ~ 3000 bottles, and 4,000 bottles of Leeu Passant Dry Red. 

 (UK RRP IS £72 – £75 pb Inc.)

My First Encounters at Roundstone, the Mullineux Family Farm in the Swartland

The Swartland is a beautiful and wild spot off the beaten track. The landscape is a series of dry rolling hills with a few significant outcrops of rock that form the Paardeberg, Kasteelberg and Piketberg mountains. This is also the region winemakers Chris and Andrea Mullineux chose to make their home.

The 7 – 8 year old Grenache Blanc vines being returned to bush vines after being trellised to begin with.

This is my first visit to Roundstone, the original farm from where Chris and Andrea started buying the famous fruit for their iconic Schist Syrah in 2007. This fruit has now also become a key component of their award winning “signature range” Mullineux Syrah. Roundstone’s own vineyards now represent around 30% of their Syrah production. 

On a clear bright day like today, you can see all the way to Table Mountain, around one and a half hours away heading south down the N7.



Chris and Andrea finally acquired the property in 2014 and, together with their viticulturist Rosa Kruger and farm manager Jeandre, started an exciting planting program that will run until 2018. 

They will be planting more Syrah, and also Chenin blanc, Grenache (noir and blanc), Cinsault, Clairette Blanche, Carignan, Semillon Gris, Roussanne, Maccabeu, and some more esoteric varieties.


I look forward to tasting their new Leeu Passant wines tomorrow. Very exciting. Now it’s time for a cold glass of Chenin! 

Revisiting the Profound Mullineux Old Vines White Blend 2013…

The Swartland is fortunate to have a wealth of old vine Chenin Blanc, so it’s no surprise that Mullineux & Leeuw Family Wines, one of the region’s and country’s finest producers, bases their estate white blend on normally at least 60% old vine Chenin Blanc. 


The grapes come from vineyard parcels in different parts of the Swartland, including stony shale soils, schist soils of the Kasteelberg, decomposed granite soils of the Paardeberg, and iron-rich soils in the hills west of Malmesbury. Winemaking is firmly based on the classical old masters of France, with fermentation in barrel using only indigenous yeasts, then aging the wine in French oak barrels (20% new), for 11 months approximately before being bottled unfiltered and unfined with minimal sulphur additions.


Mullineux & Leeuw Family Old Vines White Blend 2013, 13.5 Abv.

Tasting Note: Mesmerising green gold colour in the glass, this wine is as seductive and expressive on the nose as the day it was bottled. It just bursts forth with complex layers of floral white peach, white honeysuckle blossom, peach skins, lemon peel and a hint of buttered white toast. There is more green apple, pear and yellow pastille fruit concentration now than when I last tasted this wine, so it is evolving, however slowly, unfurling a few extra layers to tempt the drinker. The palate too is superbly balanced and incredibly intense with such vibrant tart acidity and piercing length. The wine has lost none of its youthful wound-spring tension, suggesting this vintage will be a fine example of Swartland Chenin Blanc Blends to lie down in ones cellar for a few more years. A little extra complexity of lemon grass, stem ginger and exotic spice starts to develop on the nose once the wine sits in the glass for a few moments longer. The finish is long, precise, and texturally seamless. A benchmark of quality for the Swartland and indeed the whole of the South African wine industry. (Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW) – Tasted 29/12/2016


Accolades from the world’s wine critics:

2010 – 5 Stars Platter, 91/100 Wine Advocate, 17.5/20 Jancis Robinson

2011 – 4.5 Stars Platter, 94/100 Tim Atkin, 92/100 Steve Tanzer

2012 – 4.5 Stars Platter, 91/100 Wine Advocate, 18/20 Jancis Robinson

2013 – 4.5 Stars Platter, 92/100 Wine Advocate, 17/20 Jancis Robinson

2014 – 5 Stars Platter, 93/100 Wine Advocate

2015 – 4.5 Stars Platter

Handford Wines Xmas Tasting ~ Highlighting Some of South Africa’s Finest White and Red Wines…

Last night was the Handford Wines Christmas Tasting for 150 of our best clients. I could not miss this opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic South African 2015 vintage whites and reds that have arrived over the Autumn. We are spoilt for choice in London!


Here are some of my top 2015 picks of the night with the odd sneaky 2014 also getting in on the act! We are blessed in South Africa with such diversity and quality. You’d be mad not to seek out these wines and fill your cellar with them! 

Berene Damon’s fantastic 2015 maiden release Hemel en Aarde Ridge Pinot Noir (94/100)

2016 and 2017 vintages look like being very low yielding drought vintages. All the more reason to buy the sumptuous 2015s! 


Beautiful Mother Rock pair from Stompie Meyer. What a vintage to launch his new Cuvees to the world! Both the Grenache (95/100) and the Carignan-Cinsaut (93+/100) were on fire last night.



Jocelyn Hogan’s Chenin Blanc has taken the market by storm. The 2014 was a beaut, the 2015 leaves you gasping for air it’s so good (95/100).


John Seccombe has built a towering reputation in a matter of years. He reaches new heights of greatness with his epic white Rocking Horse 2015 blend (95+/100).


We all know wizard Andre van Rensberg is capable of making incredible wines. This small “Liberated” parcel of Helderberg 2015 Semillon (with a splash of 2016 Sauvignon Blanc) illustrates his exceptional talents (93/100).


No fine wine tasting would be complete with out South Africa’s most acclaimed Bordeaux red blend. Here the MR de Compostella 2014 struts its stuff and impresses like we know it can. A beautiful Cabernet Franc driven expression (96/100). 


Can there be anyway better way to finish off a tasting than with a sweet wine made by the Wine Enthusiast’s Winemaker of The Year 2016? Andrea Mullineux, with husband Chris, have followed up their Olerasay Solera Straw Wine release (98/100) with the fantastically good 2015 Chenin Blanc Straw Wine (97/100), winner of the Platter Guide 2017 Sweet Wine of the Year. Need I say more?

Give them all a big Platt on the back… The Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2017 award winners announced…

Tonight saw the much anticipated Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2017 5 Star award winners announced in Cape Town. In all, 94 wines were rewarded with 5 Stars after an extensive sighted and then blind tasting process. 

Dessert Wine of the Year – Mullineux Straw Wine 2015

94 might seem a high number of 5 Star awards in comparison to previous years results, but when the industry is awash with so many fantastic new wines and wineries, and so many specific wines from the epic 2015 vintage, it’s no real surprise numbers are way up.

Of course, consumers will ultimately be the ones who decide whether or not these wines are worthy or not, and how quickly many of them now sell out, if they haven’t done so already, will be the greatest proof of consumer recognition.

Reading through the list, I calculated that I have bought approximate 1/3 of the 5 Star awarded wines for Handford Wines. Not a bad hit rate I’d say. Many are still enroute to the UK,  but some are sold out already.

Congratulations to all the winemakers and winery owners involved. Persistent striving for quality will always eventually be recognised. 

WINERY OF THE YEAR
 – Nederburg Wines

RED WINE OF THE YEAR
 – The Winery of Good Hope Black Rock 2014

WHITE WINE OF THE YEAR
 – Stellenrust 51 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2015

DESSERT WINE OF THE YEAR
 – Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Straw Wine 2015

For full results and analysis from SA journalist Angela Lloyd, follow this link:

https://outofthepress.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/platter-2017/