Mullineux Schist Chenin Blanc 2012

By , 8 August 2013



Full of schist.

Full of schist.

Last night a tasting of the new releases of Swartland producer Mullineux Family Wines. The White Blend 2012, the Syrah 2011 and the Straw Wine 2012 were reviewed earlier in the year (see here) but a pleasure to re-visit them.

The White Blend 2012 is their best to date (a must-buy) while the Straw Wine 2012 is about as elegant as wines made in this manner get. As for the Syrah 2011, fascinating to taste it next to its so-called single terroir counterparts, the Granite Syrah and the Schist Syrah.

As with 2010, I’m inclined to prefer the less expensive standard label over the two site-specific wines but only just.

Mullineux Syrah 2011
Price: R230
Luminous dark red in colour. Red and black fruit, fynbos and spice. Really composed – great purity, fresh acidity and fine tannins. Very youthful and long.

Score: 92/100.

Mullineux Granite Syrah 2011
Price: R675
From decomposed granite (“beach sand”) on clay – good vineyard canopies giving perfume and freshness. Red and black fruit plus intense spice (stalky?) and a vague earthy quality. Bright acidity and a very persistent finish. Very striking but perhaps a bit short of finesse – geeky stuff.

Score: 91/100.

Mullineux Schist Syrah 2011
Price: R675
From hard, compact slate which doesn’t retain water – smaller vineyard canopies giving more fruit density and firmer tannins. Ripe dark fruit but also some fynbos and floral fragrance. Sweet in the best sense, rich and round. Typical Swartland.

Score: 90/100.

New from this cellar is the Schist Chenin Blanc 2012 and jolly impressive it is, too.

Mullineux Schist Chenin Blanc 2012
Price: R423 (from Wine Cellar, Observatory)
Citrus and peach, spice, some earthiness. Relatively rich and broad but not to say weighty – winemakers Chris and Andrea Mullineux seem increasingly adept at capturing fruit concentration without the usual high sugars and alcohol. There’s particularly zesty acidity here, too.

Score: 91/100.


6 comment(s)

  • Keith Prothero8 August 2013

    Did you have the same opinion of the 2011 Schist and Granite Christian?
    Just curious,because I put the Schist in my Annual Blind Challenge for Pebbles this September in London,and most people thought it was one of the La La wines. A discussion concerned whether it was La Turque or Mouline !!! The tasters included MW,s and other very experienced oenophiles.
    Immediately after the dinner,one guest contacted the distributor of the wine in the UK,BBR and bought all 15 cases in stock !!
    Guess we are all different,and I am of course an Investor in Mullineux,but for me the two single vineyard wines are amongst the very best red wines the Cape has to offer.

    • Christian9 August 2013

      Hi Keith, Mullineux Family Wines as the Swartland’s Guigal? What a fabulous idea. The standard label Shiraz the equivalent of your anytime, anywhere Cote-du-Rhone and the single terroir wines your La Las.

      More seriously, I did in fact prefer the standard label Shiraz to the Granite and the Schist in both 2010 and 2011. Unfortunately, I don’t get to drink top-end Rhone as much as I’d like but I have a better fix than most on what’s happening in SA and while the Mullineux cellar is undoubtedly excellent, I don’t think its that far ahead of everybody else (not inclined to drink plonk after this particular Mullineux tasting, I opened a bottle of The Foundry Syrah 2006 by Chris Williams with dinner and it was very much in the same league).

      I guess what’s also at stake when it comes to the Mullineux single terroir releases is the issue of whether “terroir” wines are worth a premium over blends. It could be argued that the cap on production that necessarily comes with making wine from a single site introduces a rarity factor that along with a bit of savvy marketing helps drive up prices for the producer.

      To my mind, the Mullineux standard label represents a case where the blend is still greater than the sum of its parts compared to the singular but still lesser single terroir wines. It may well turn out that the single terroir wines come to have the same mystique as Guigal’s La Las but then Guigal has been making them for some 35 years.

      Lastly, while I’m delighted that SA wine is currently finding favour with London-based MWs and the like, I am anxious that our popularity shouldn’t be too fleeting (the Douro Boys and Priorat yesterday, the Swartland gang today). If local producers and critics don’t collectively have a sound vision for the future, then we’re stuffed.

  • Grant9 August 2013


    Completely impartial, of course.


  • Francois.R9 August 2013

    You are spot on about the ‘vision for the future’
    A case in point being Chris and The Foundry being the UK darling from the inaugural 2001 vintage but is it as sought after and written up today? More is the pity since Chris continues to innovate with his wines.
    The Swartland team have shown they can work together, the question is – ‘Are the rest of the producers going to use the positivity and also continue on forward or do they all risk being side-tracked by envy’
    Mullineux is generating excitement but according to their superstar compatriot there is a limit of how much wine he can sell into the international market at present which hasn’t grown much in the past decade. So can they (and others) keep growing and selling volume of the standard label off the back of the single vineyard wines, if not then SA remains in the backwaters.

  • Chris Williams14 August 2013

    Thanks to those who have commented positively about my wines. I think it is the nature of the beast that journalists and opinion formers like new things, love discovering a new talent and enjoy considering the merits of new producers. The trick is to sustain and improve quality over time and continue to find willing supporters for ones wines. At the end of the day, it’s the consumers, those that spend their own money again and again on the wines they enjoy that keep a producer committed, innovative and constantly striving for quality. Happily, The Foundry has found this support in the market, amongst wine drinkers, both locally and internationally and that is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
    Journalists have their role to play, but with The Foundry and Meerlust, we never forget who keeps us in business and always try to stay connected to them.

    • Derek Prout-Jones15 August 2013

      Very well said Chris. As a PASSIONATE wine consumer, I could not agree more. Despite some very unfortunate “intolerance issues” I have developed over the years, I persist with my nightly 2 glasses of red. That means quality over quantity is very much the order of the day for me. My selections are therefore made with great care. In truth, the scores of people who make this same choice every day, pay you, the winemaker, the greatest compliment. Thanks for the mutual respect. Guns Up!

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