Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm tellin' you, Mullineux

To the roster of excellent Swartland wineries, we can now add a new name - Mullineux Family Wines. It's owned and run by Chris and Andrea Mullineux, with business input from wine nuts Keith Prothero and Peter Dart, and the first releases, from the 2008 vintage, have just arrived in the cellars of Berry Bros & Rudd. The winery will be familiar to anyone who has paid more than a couple of visits to Tom Cannavan's wine pages forum over the past couple of years, since Keith has been banging on about it there for months, canvassing opinions on names, label designs, possible UK importers and more. Even if you've not tuned into that forum, you might be familiar with some wines Chris has made in various top SA cellars, and most recently at Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards.

Keith's very-bigging-up of the winery could have proved premature had the wines been damp squibs, but the only problem I had with the two wines I've just been sampling is that there just wasn't enough of each in the bottle. The barrel-fermented white (£13.95), mostly Chenin Blanc, with 7% each of Clairette and Viognier, is one of those wines where the fruit - lively zesty citrus fruit - plays second fiddle to smoky, nut and ginger characters, while the finish has lively mineral tones to pep it up. Indigenous yeasts no doubt add extra character to the finished wine.

The red (£16.50) is 100% Syrah from Swartland's granite-rich soils, and while at 14.5% it's certainly not light-bodied, it has that firm but cool, almost refreshing edge that granite soils often give to prevent anything going wobbly. Add in the dark cherry and damson flavours, and the fragrant, herby finish, and you have a very classy wine. I'd recommend decanting both of them, as they're still in short trousers, and need time to show their hidden layers. But as the French say, chapeau to all concerned and Keith, the hype was fully justified, good on you. Watch out too in the future for a Chenin-based straw wine.

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