Andrea Mullineux – The Latest Cape Winemakers Guild Superstar…

The Cape Wine Makers Guild represents innovation, benchmarking and the sharing of knowledge spanning over thirty three years of winemaking excellence. The Guild, an association of some of South Africa’s finest winemakers, has evolved into a body of 49 members who jointly represent the pinnacle of South African winemaking.

So of course, when I recently hooked up with Chris and Andrea Mullineux at their Roundstone farm, no prizes for guessing which unicorn bottle I liberated out of their cellar!!🍷

Cape Winemakers Guild Andrea Mullineux Leeu Passant Old Vine Cinsault 2015, WO Franschhoek, 13.5 Abv. 

A beautiful expression from this 91 year old vineyard in Franschhoek. Andrea affords this grand old vineyard its due respect handling the fruit in a more serious crushed berry whole bunch style instead of a whole bunch carbonique style. Broad and texturally very complex, the wine unfurls in layers of sweet cherry, Turkish delight, marzipan and sappy oak spice. Full and distinguished, this medium bodied wine is an expertly crafted, supremely elegant version of Cinsault that turns a touch more serious and tannic on the firm, focused finish. Superb poise, impressive refinement and very precise and self assured. What else would you expect from Andrea Mullineux? Give it a year or 5 in bottle and drink over 20+.

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

Reinventing The Original Cape Red Blend – Tasting the New Mullineux and Leeu Family Wines Leeu Passant 2016 Dry Red Release…

I recently caught up with Swartland rock star wine couple Chris and Andrea Mullineux at their Roundstone farm to taste their new Leeu Passant releases. Of all the new wine brands released on to the South African and international wine market of late, few have generated as much discussion and debate as the Leeu Passant Dry Cape Red.

Too much of this discussion has perhaps superficially centred around the wine’s ultra premium pricing of £95-£100 per bottle and whether this pricing is merited instead of around the wine’s exceptional quality, its old vine fruit sources and it’s philosophical interpretation of a wine style synonymous with the early years of the 20th century Cape wine industry.

But new innovative wines that push the boundaries usually make easy targets for wine trade sceptics. It is without doubt the success of wines like this that will open new doors and pathways to financial viability and success for the whole of the South African wine industry. In the meantime, indulge yourself and savour some true precision winemaking with the Leeu Passant Dry Red.

Leeu Passant Dry Red Wines 2016, WO Western Cape, 14 Abv.

A blend of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc and 31% Cinsault using 100% whole bunch for the Cabernet Franc and Cinsault portions. 100% new oak was used for the Cabernet Franc fermentation. Lifted and aromatic, this wine initially displays a pronounced sweet leaf, red currant, cedar and red berry fruit character. Intensely focused concentration from low yields and super small berries in 2016 makes for a wine brimming with overt notes of earl grey tea, bergamot spice, pithy citrus peel, spicy red bramble berries and a broody, earthy red currant depth. A fine wine with ample structure and seriousness, impressive minerality, precision and power. This red will certainly be a great keeper that’s destined for many a collectors’ cellar. Hats off to Chris and Andrea Mullineux for succeeding in creating yet another collectable vinous gem in only year two of this new project. Drink on release if you are flamboyant, drink after 10 years if you are patient, and drink after 30+ if you are youthful and have time on your side.

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

The Savvy Swartlanders Putting Stellenbosch Chardonnay on the World Map – Tasting a Pre-Release Bottle of Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016…

As I near the end of my March trip to South Africa, one of my favourite visits and tastings lay ahead at the Roundstone farm of Chris and Andrea Mullineux in the Swartland. With the new Leeu Passant wines due for imminent release, it was great to get a sneak peak of one of my favourite new white wines on the South African wine scene, the Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chardonnay.

As it becomes apparent that the Elandskloof Chardonnay Cuvee will no longer be made, the Mullineux’s have instead decided to focus on their Stellenbosch Chardonnay Cuvee from the Helderberg, which they believe offers the best future potential for premium quality and cellar ageability.

In the past few years, the debate has certainly hotted up in Europe and the USA around the collectability and quality of premium new world Chardonnay versus expensive top white Burgundy. New challengers to the holy Burgundy grail will certainly emerge, and I’m putting my money on this wine being in the mix for top honours.

Mullineux Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016, 14 Abv.

Another incredibly serious, focused, grown up release from the Mullineuxs. Regal, refined and linear, the fruit comes from the same 26 year old Helderberg vineyard as the 2015 release. Beautiful lime and white citrus pastille fruit notes are very pure and pithy with an alluring wet limestone and waxy lemon rind edge. Very tight grained, tightly wound and taut, far more so than even the very serious 2015 release. The intense lemon and lime cordial freshness is supremely balanced and harmonious performing a sophisticated, choreographed Burgundy styled routine with an expertly judged amount of struck match reduction complexity. The finish has a dusty, gravelly dry mineral length that will impress the most educated fine wine collector. Cellar this beauty for 2 to 3 years before opening, and drink over 20+ years.

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

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?