60% Chenin Blanc, 10% Clairette Blanche, 10% Roussanne, 10% Viognier, 10% Grenache Blan
A lot of bloggers and journalists have been going mad for Chris Mullineux’s wines in the last twelve months or so and this was significantly ramped up by the Swartland Revolution event in South Africa (which sadly I didn’t go to). I did however have the opportunity to visit Chris and Andrea at their cellar in Riebeek Kasteel (a town that has that frontier feel to it).
I chose to visit them largely through a little contact with UK based Keith Prothero, a man who clearly knows a thing or two not only about wine, but about promoting a single wine or estate – there are a lot of people out there paid far too much money to promote wineries that could learn a lot from Keith’s example – although it does help that the wines he is promoting (and investing in it should be said) come from what I would happily describe as the New World’s most exciting wine region (best wine region would be another argument), and that Chris and Andrea, in a very short time have become one of the most exciting wineries in that exciting region.
For many years Swartland did two things really well, it grew cereals and made shocking wine produced at large cooperatives, all that has changed – Charles Back or Fairview was probably the forerunner when he bought a small farm near Malmesbury, and started making wines there under the Spice Route label. He was fortunate enough to employ a young maverick winemaker to produce the wines, and in Eben Sadie he employed someone that fifteen years later is hailed as one of the greatest winemakers in South Africa (Eben no longer works at Spice Route and produces wines under the Sadie Family Vineyards name).
Since then other have followed, Sadie’s own wine is now considered one of the best in South Africa, and when Adi Badenhorst, a winemaker or tremendous standing in South Africa – but also perhaps the biggest personality in South African wine, chose to leave the establishment in the form of Rustenberg and strike out on his own he chose Swartland to do it.
Anyway that is enough background – what about the wine? Tonight served with Port Fillet in a cream, portabello mushroom and mustard sauce this white wine is singing. Fantastically rich with ripe apricot and peach fruit, hazelnuts and lanolin – it’s hard to describe just how good I think this is – there is real texture too – it’s such a welcome relief from Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Lovely minerality this is just beginning to hit it’s straps – would I keep it longer? Probably not – but then when a wine is as good as this why bother?
All in all it’s a great glass of wine, and it’s one of the reason’s that I say that Swartland is SO exciting – Chris is one of the ground breakers, whether other follow in his stead we don’t know yet – I just hope that they do!