2016 Mullineux, Old Vines White, Swartland, South Africa.
South Africa in recent years has seen an amazing change of generation and a rise in quality few could have guessed at, winemakers like Eben Sadie, Adi Badenhosrt and Andrea Mullineux, just to name a few, are now international super stars and remarkably some of their greatest wines are from white grapes, especially Chenin Blanc, with some wines eclipsing any wines from the Loire! Also too is a trend to make field blends, historic and or old vine vineyards which like early California site were planted to mixed varietals, both Sadie Family and Mullineux excelling in these wines, and while I’ve featured Sadie in recent years, this was my first chance to dig into Andrea’s offerings in a serious way and exploring her terroir/soil series was a thrill with her single varietal Syrah and Chenin on granite really impressing me, and while they are without question some of the most exciting wines from South Africa I’ve ever tried, I loved this old vine field blend white maybe best of all for it’s combination of complexity and value. Crafted from 62% Chenin Blanc, 15% Grenache Blanc, 11% Viognier, 8% Clairette Blanche and 4% Semillon Gris the 2016 Old Vine White from Mullineux (the husband and wife team of Chris and Andrea) starts with a sizzling tension and crisp focus only barley hinting at the rapture to come in the following minutes, it reveals slowly in an austere way it’s layers of tart peach, unripe apple, brisk lemony citrus and waxy unsweetened honey and dusty stones adding a straw note before opening to a medium bodied, textured and excitingly severe palate. With air more appears and this white gathers itself and seduces completely gaining white flowers, mineral/steely verve, clove/spice, wet river rock and melon, kiwi and almond oil. The wine is fermented using native yeasts and aged 11 months in French oak, about 20% of which are new, not that you notice at first, it’s only well into the bottle does the mouth feel turn richer and you pick up the wood and leesy side of things, the grapes, old vine Chenin along with the Mediterranean varieties come from vineyard parcels in different parts of the Swartland area with an amazing geological make up of soils including plots in the stony Shale and Schist of Kasteelberg, decomposed Granite in Paardeberg and the iron-rich hillsides west of Malmesbury, all of which shines through to make an outstanding world class white! This wine is the real deal to drink over the next 3 to 5 years, it is like if you took the best from Francois Chidane’s Montluis and Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc along with a little bit of Laura Lorenzo’s Erea de Vila Ribeira Sacra Godello blend, all awesome wines on their own, such is the nature of Mullineux’s class, don’t miss a chance at this or any of their wines!
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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