Chris and Andrea Mullineux have garnered most accolades there are to garner in South African wine circles, and an increasing number in international wine circles. Rated as one of the few 'First Growths' of South African wine by Master of Wine and South African specialist Tim Atkin, their wines are among the most desirable the country has to offer.
For me, top Swartland Syrah should already be considered among the world's greatest wine styles. Winemaker Eben Sadie put it best when he said, and I hope I quote him correctly, that in South Africa with wine they are making "tea not coffee", in other words they infuse flavours rather than extract. This is what you see here in the Mullineux's fabulous, enticing, perfumed Schist Syrah, which has a substance and poise redolent of the great reds of the Northern Rhône.
Tim Atkin MW gave the 2018 vintage 97 points and described it as his "pick of the three top Mullineux Syrahs", "world-class", with "incredible focus and grip and a plush, seductive mid palate".
It comes from a small plot of 21-year-old Syrah vines in the stony shale and schist soils of their Roundstone farm on the Kasteelberg in the Swartland. Matured for 21 months in barrel (consisting of a year in 500-litre French oak barrels, one-quarter new, then nine months in second-fill larger foudres), then bottled unfined and unfiltered.
This is their own take: "2018 was the third vintage of the Great Drought in the Cape and yields were again around 25% lower than normal. The Schist is always the most structured Syrah in our Single Terroir range with great length and longevity. Ageing potential 15-25 years. Decanting recommended when opened young."
It's truly a Swartland Syrah for the ages.