2019 Mullineux, Old Vines White Blend, Swartland, South Africa.
The husband and wife team of Chris and Andrea Mullineux at Mulineux & Leeu Family Wines in Swartland wine growing region of South Africa are making some of the most compelling wines in South Africa, with American Andrea now a full recognized international superstar winemaker, especially for her outstanding terroir series of Syrah bottlings, but it would be a crime to overlook their whites, which are incredible in their own right, with this Chenin Blanc based Old Vines White being one of my favorites in the lineup. The 2019 Old Vines White is a beautiful and textured version made from 74% Chenin Blanc, or Steen as it is known as here, 8% Clairette Blanche, 7% Viognier, 6% Grenache Blanc, 2% Semillon, 2% Macabeo, a rare Spanish varietal found in the Catalan regions and 1% Verdelho, also found in Spain and in Portugal. The palate is full and supple with a regal presence and mouth feel that is creamy, but still exceptionally vivid and vital with a seamless layering of flavors including peach, lemon, melon and waxy pear fruits along with verbena, honey, hazelnut, white flowers, spicy/herbal clove and a touch of butterscotch.

The Swartland region, as the winery notes, is blessed with an abundance of old vine Chenin and they use this classic Loire Valley varietal as the backbone in the Mullineux’s white blend. Then they add several small parcels of Mediterranean varieties for complexity, balance and aromatic lift, all of which prove sublime in this wine. It should be noted that Chenin can be used in blends to great effect both here in South Africa, where I have enjoyed it blended with Palomino and it France, where I love it in the famous Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc from the Languedoc. The grapes for the Old Vines White come into the cellar from sites in different parts of the Swartland, some from the stony Shale and Schist based soils of the Kasteelberg, the decomposed Granite of the Paardeberg and the rolling, iron-rich hills west of Malmesbury, this gives additional complexity in this tasty stuff. The golden and straw hued Old Vines White was, very much like classic white Burgundy, hand crafted and saw a natural fermentation in barrel with indigenous yeasts and the wine was aged for close to a year in the French oak of which were about 20% new and then bottled unfined and unfiltered. These Mullineux wines, like Sadie Family and Badenhorst, are really worth searching out, and this one is a fabulous way to start!
($34 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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