Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines
Exciting Swartland winery making authentic terroir-based wines


Chris and Andrea Mullineux

Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines were an important part of the Swartland Revolution, and remain one of the most exciting producers in South Africa. The Mullineux family (pictured) is Chris and Andrea, who were previously both at Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards (which has since been renamed Fable Wines). They left in 2007, got married and moved to Riebeek Kasteel to start their own venture, with support from Keith Prothero and Peter Dart. ‘The Swartland was our only choice,’ says Chris. ‘It was a no brainer.’

They were tempted to join the new Swartland pioneers over in Paardeberg (with its predominantly granitic soils), but in the end they opted for Riebeek Kasteel, and its shale and schist.  

The Mullineux winery in Riebeek Kasteel

But they’re not just restricting themselves to just one terroir type – they are leasing vineyard blocks across the region, from a range of soils, with 7 hectares across 21 different vineyards. ‘During our time at TMV we started forays into the Swartland and learned which growers are farming well,’ says Chris. For their first few vintages they rented winery space at Reyneke, who have a shared winemaking philosophy, but soon moved into their own winery in the middle of Riebeek Kasteel.

Andrea and Chris Mullineux pictured in 2009

The Mullineux approach, in both the vineyard and winery, is to work as naturally as possible without compromising quality. The approach is pragmatic. 'We try to make our wines as naturally as possible,' says Chris, 'but they are not natural. We use this winemaking approach to make wines that have a sense of place.' Initially, three wines were made, a white blend, a Syrah and a sweet ‘straw wine’. ‘For the white we blend several different varieties to get complexity,’ says Andrea, ‘but for the red we blend in several different parcels from three soil types: decomposed granite (freshness), schist/shale (richness) and red clay (mid-palate depth).’


A sign that Mullineux were on the right lines came in October 2011, when the results of the Platter tastings for the 2012 guide were released. Mullineux achieved the remarkable feat of three five-star wines: a clean sweep. The portfolio expanded with the addition of two high-end Syrahs in 2011: labelled 'Granite' and 'Schist' respectively. Just 100 cases of each were released. The Granite is from a 14 year old vineyard on the Paardeberg with soils that are sandy with a thick layer of clay. The vines therefore always have good moisture levels, bigger berries, thinner skins and more shade. This leads to aromatic wines with some green characters. The Schist comes from a 15 year old vineyard on a steep east-facing slope that produces smaller berries with thicker skins, making a more masculine style of wine. Both wines were made with 100% stems, and 50% new wood. Two 500 litre barrels of each wine were made. Later on an ‘Iron’ Syrah was added, and also a ‘Granite’ Chenin Blanc.


In 2012, Keith Prothero was looking to sell his shares, and asked the Mullineuxs to look around to see who might be interested. Rosa Kruger, the well-known viticulturist, had just started to work for Indian businessman Analjit Singh, and she brought the two parties together. He brought Keith's shares and Mullineux became Mullineux & Leeu family wines, with the investment helping them to grow. 'We explained to him that everything we've done so far is in the Swartland and he was totally fine with that,' says Chris Mullineux. So in Franschhoek, where Analjit has bought two farms and merged them, there's a new label Leeu Estate, while Mullinuex will continue separately as Mullineux & Leeu Family wines.

Working with Rosa, they are now purchasing fruit from 12 different vineyards for the Franschhoek project. This new brand has opened up the possibility of working with new, exciting vineyards. The wines won't be released until 2017, but Chris says, 'We have looked at what is South African.' In particular, they have two extremely good Cinsault vineyards, one 115 years old and one 94. The idea is to make red blends with Cinsault in the mix, as with many of the great old red blends of the past. 'We have white blends in South Africa,' says Chris, 'but I think that in a few years’ time red blends will be the thing.' Andrea adds, 'We're not trying to emulate the old wines. We are inspired by the old wines of South Africa, but this will be a new take: we want to be high end from the get go.'


The investment from Analjit Singh has allowed them to secure a key vineyard in the Swartland. This is the one their Schist Syrah is made from, and its purchase will see it become the core of their operation. 'We're glad to secure fruit,' says Chris. 'In the last few years we have lost vineyards. At the same time it is exciting to be able to do new things.' The latest addition to the sweet wine is a solera-style version of the straw wine, named Olerasay (pig-latin for Solera).


Date of tasting indicated by month/year 

Kloof Street Chenin Blanc 2014 Swartland, South Africa
30-55 year old vineyards, and old barrels. Very lively and fresh with lovely pure, complex, spicy flavours. Lovely texture and depth. Juicy, bright and fine. 91/100 (09/15)

Mullineux Old Vines White Blend 2013 Swartland, South Africa
Chenin with 13% Clairette (this ripens at 10% potential alcohol and brings freshness and beeswax notes) and 7% Viognier. From 2014 this will have Semillon Gris in it. Textured, fine and fresh with lovely bright citrus and pear fruit. There are hints of wax and herbs. Fresh and concentrated with good acid and lots of potential. 94/100 (09/15)

Mullineux Granite Chenin Blanc 2014 Swartland, South Africa
From two vineyards in the Paardeberg with very deep sandy soils, which are poor and low in nitrogen, producing wines with fantastic acidity. Very taut mineral nose is fine and expressive with lovely citrus, grapefruit and a hint of nice reduction. It's pretty and detailed on the palate with lovely texture and a hint of saltiness. The essence of Chenin on granite. 95/100 (09/15)

Kloof Street Red 2013 Swartland, South Africa
This is a blend of five Rhône varieties, with a majority of Syrah. 20% whole cluster, old barrels. Very bright and fresh with attractive cherry and raspberry fruit, as well as hints of spice and meat. Drinkable and fresh but with a hint of seriousness. 92/100 (09/15)

Mullineux Syrah 2013 Swartland, South Africa
13% alcohol. Floral and fresh with lovely purity to the cherry and plum notes. So fresh with lovely definition. Quite pure. This is simply fantastic with lovely freshness and purity, and it tastes like a ripe Cornas. 95/100 (09/15)

Mullineux Iron Syrah 2013 Swartland, South Africa
Iron soils bring mid-palate weight to the wine, and this is where the stems help to give structure and backbone: this wine is 100% whole bunch. Amazing floral notes. Rich, sweet black fruits nose is quite rich. Supple palate is textured and meaty with nice red fruits. It's quite seamless but has a nice fresh grippy finish. 95/100 (09/15)

Mullineux Schist Syrah 2013 Swartland, South Africa
Focused black cherry fruit nose is very fresh and detailed. Lovely structure on the palate with pure, mineral black fruits. Complete wine, with freshness, structure and beautifully detailed fruit. 96/100 (09/15)

Mullineux Olerasay Chenin Blanc No 1 NV Swartland, South Africa
This is a blend of straw wine from 2008-14 that's come from a solera created by holding back two barrels each year. 11% alcohol, 260 g/l sugar, 10.1 g/l acid. This has an amazing nose of marmalade, honey, spice and apricot with some lemon peel. Concentrated and powerful with textured flavours and lovely freshness and detail. Quite remarkable and not at all cloying. 97/100 (09/15)

Mullineux White 2008 Swartland, South Africa
4000 bottles made. This is 80% Chenin Blanc, half of which comes from the granite soils of Lammershoek, some from Adi Badenhorst, and the rest from the shale and schist of Riebeek. The granite brings freshness, the shale/schist brings more apricot and peach characters. The remaining 20% is made up of Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Viognier. This is complex, fresh and herby with a subtly apricot-tinged nose. The palate is rich and full with lovely expressive herby, straw and nut notes, as well as sweet pear and apricot fruit. It has a rounded, ripe finish. 91/100 (11/09)

Mullineux White 2008 Swartland, South Africa
Deep yellow/gold colour. Sweetly aromatic with nuts and ripe apple as well as some honey. The palate shows almonds, hazelnut, peach and pear. Very rich, but with some fresh minerality underneath. An intense, complex wine, evolved but nicely so. 92/100 (04/12)

Mullineux White 2010 Swartland, South Africa
1000 cases made, 13.5% alcohol. This year it is old vine Chenin and Clairette, with some Viognier. Fresh, vibrant crystalline fruit with some grapefruit freshness and a bit of minerality, and some toasty richness. Great balance between the fresh fruit and the richers texture. Good precision. 92/100 (10/11) 

Mullineux Syrah 2008 Swartland, South Africa
20% whole clusters used. Very floral and aromatic with lovely purity and elegance to the fruit, which is both red and black. The palate has lovely pepperiness and elegance with spice and fresh cherry and plum fruit. Lovely sweetness, too. Really elegant; almost profound, with a subtle meatiness. Beautiful wine. 95/100 (11/09)

Mullineux Granite Syrah 2010 Swartland, South Africa
Sweet aromatic black cherry fruit nose with some meaty overtones. The palate is fresh, lively and spicy with meaty berry fruits. It’s quite rich yet fresh at the same time, with some lighter mineral notes in the mix. Lovely freshness, precision and perfume, with good acidity. 94/100 (10/11)

Mullineux Schist Syrah 2010 Swartland, South Africa
Dense, brooding and rich with some meatiness to the black fruits nose. The palate is rich, bold and intense with lovely black fruits and a fine spicy finish. Nice density and structure here. Meaty, spicy, dense. 93/100 (10/11)

Mullineux Straw Wine 2008 Swartland, South Africa
Made with air-dried Chenin Blanc grapes. 250 cases made; 10.5% alcohol. A full bronze colour. Rich, aromatic, concentrated and very sweet, with a raisiny, spicy edge to the luscious apricot and peach fruit. Lovely high acidity counters the intense sweetness. Complex, rich and thought-provoking. 93/100 (11/09)

Mullineux Straw Wine 2010 Swartland, South Africa
350 g/litre sugar, 8% alcohol. Powerful, viscous and sweet with intense spicy, honeyed, crystalline fruits. Massive concentration with some raisin notes. Remarkable wine. 94/100 (10/11)

Part 1: Dinner at Callie's on the Porseleinberg
Part 2: Lammershoek  
Part 3: Photos of Lammershoek
Part 4: Intellego

Part 5: Testalonga
Part 6: Eben Sadie and a Columella vertical tasting
Part 7: Mullineux Family Wines

Part 1, Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards
Part 2, Cape Point Vineyards
Part 3, AA Badenhorst Family Wines
Part 4, Eben Sadie: Sadie Family Wines and Sequillo Cellars
Part 5, Paul Kretzel of Lammershoek
Part 6, Mullineux Family Wines
Part 7, Vondeling
Part 8, Scali
Part 9, Sterhuis
Part 10, Raats
Part 11, Migliarina
Part 12, Charles Back and Fairview
Part 13, Hermit on the Hill
Part 14, Klein Constantia
Part 15, Iona, Elgin
Part 16, Paul Cluver, Elgin
Part 17, Eagles' Nest, Constantia
Part 18, Anthonij Rupert
Part 19, Oak Valley, Elgin
Part 20, Shannon, Elgin

Wines tasted as indicated  
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