Mullineux Signature, Old Vines White Blend 2019
This fragrant wine has a characteristic floral nose with notes of orange blossom, apricots, mandarins and cardamom. The richly textured palate is balanced by a fresh, vibrant, acidity and flavours reminiscent of peach, grapefruit and hints of spice.
Swartland, Coastal Region, South Africa
74% Chenin Blanc, 8% Clairette, 7% Viognier, 6% Grenache Blanc, 2% Semillon Gris, 2% Viura, 1% Verdelho [20-60 year-old vines]
Founded by Chris and Andrea Mullineux in 2007, this winery is now one of the most lauded in South Africa. Named ‘Winery of the Year’ four times by the Platter Guide in 2014, 2016, 2019 and 2020, Mullineux were also Tim Atkin MW’s ‘South African Winemakers of the Year’ in 2016. They chose the town of Riebeek-Kasteel, just west of Malmesbury in the Swartland, for its old vineyards on granite and schist soils, reasoning that, with such quality fruit, they would be able to make outstanding wines. It is an understatement to say they have been proved right.
Chenin Blanc is a white skinned grape variety from the Loire Valley. It is an incredibly versatile grape that is used to make all kinds of wine: sparkling (Cremant de Loire), dry (Savennières and Saumur), off-dry (Vouvray and Montlouis),and sweet (Coteaux du Layon, Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaum). It has a very distinct flavour profile that combines a searingly bright acidity with apple, honey and mineral flavour concentration. Because of the naturally high acidity it ages very well and gains incredible depth and complexity as it the honeyed notes become more concentrated.
The wine is made from a blend of seven, sustainably farmed parcels from across the Swartland. Two are grown on the stony schist-based soils of the Kasteelberg: one parcel of 41 year old Chenin Blanc and a parcel of 11 year old Grenache Blanc. This soil lends a mineral freshness to the wine. Two parcels of 40-65 year old, dry land, bush vine Chenin Blanc, one parcel of 44 year old Clairette Blanche and a 60 year old heritage Semillon Gris vineyard are grown on the decomposed granite of the Paardeberg. The age of the vines, and the granite content in the soil, results in concentrated, complex wines with lifted acidity. The final parcel is 21 year old Viognier grown on the iron rich soils of the rolling hills west of Malmesbury.
The 2019 vintage was dominated by very dry conditions in the Swartland, with average yields reduced by 30%. The lower yields resulted in significantly smaller grape bunches and berries, leading to wines with higher than normal extract and concentration levels. The canopies were also more open, allowing more sunlight onto the grapes resulting in thicker skins, more tannins and darker fruit aromatics. Veraison was relatively late, meaning harvest was delayed by 10 -14 days. By harvesting at the perfect moment, Mullineux obtained fruit with incredible concentration of flavour while retaining great freshness.
As each parcel was harvested, the grapes were chilled in Mullineux's cold room facility. The grapes were then pressed as whole bunches and the juice was allowed to settle overnight. Minimal SO2 was added and, as with all their wines, no other additions were made. The juice was then racked to barrel for fermentation. Fermentation took place with indigenous yeasts and lasted up to eight weeks. The wine was left without additional sulphur on its lees until spring, with nine months spent in third and fourth fill French oak 500L barrels and one new 2000L Foudre. During this time the wine finished malolactic fermentation. The barrels were racked and blended just before the following vintage and bottled unfiltered.