Though the tasting room – The Wine Studio – for Mullineux & Leeu Family wines has a home in Franschhoek, the home of the fantastic Mullineux wines is on Roundstone Farm, near the Swartland town of Riebeek Kasteel, about an hour from Cape Town central.
As of 2019, the much-vaunted duo of Andrea & Chris Mullineux had seen their wines log 25 five-star ratings from Platter’s South African Wine Guide, claimed ‘Platter’s Winery of the Year’ titles for 2014, 2016 and 2019, had Andrea named Wine Enthusiast’s ‘2016 International Winemaker of the Year’ and jointly been named Tim Atkin’s ‘South African Winemakers of the Year’ for 2017. Taste their wines and you’ll know why.
An almost dogmatic focus on the Swartland region’s two most prominent cultivars, Chenin Blanc and Syrah, has yielded amazingly expressive terroir-focussed wines, influenced by the granite and schist soils of the area. Andrea & Chris established Mullineux Family Wines in 2007 before being joined by Analjit Singh as a partner in 2013. Singh purchased three farms in Franschhoek to form the Leeu Collection, and the newly-amalgamated Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines found its commercial home on the slopes of the mountains overlooking the quaint French-inspired town. The ‘Leeu Collection’ also spans restaurants and luxury accommodation options.
The Wine Studio on the property is a welcoming space – but laser-focussed on showcasing the wines in the best possible manner. Though it backs onto the working winery – visible through floor-to-ceiling glass, there’s no opportunity for a cellar tour. Instead, the immensely knowledgeable tasting team lead small numbers of daily guests through a variety of tastings that highlight the exceptional wines. Such is the attention to detail, that – unusually – booking is encouraged, particularly for the Single Terroir Tasting. The tasting experience is easily a contender for our ‘The Seven Best Wine Tasting Experiences in the Cape’ list, but the sheer quality of the wines puts the property on this list, instead.
The entry point to the tasting experience is the Mullineux Signature Tasting (R115), which offers tastings of the Mullineux White, Syrah and Straw Wine, along with the two accessible Kloof Street wines. There’s also a tasting of the two Leeu Passant wines (R130) – a Chardonnay and a ‘Dry Red’ blend that harks backs to the famous ‘anything goes’ red wines of the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s which continue to demonstrate remarkable ageing potential.
The undoubted star though, is the Mullineux Single Terroir Tasting (R325) which offers contrasting tastings of the three single terroir Syrahs (Iron, Schist and Granite) in delicate hand-blown glasses. Invariably led by passionate Wine Studio manager Lizzie Groenewald – a gold mine of wonderful information about the estate’s wines, and the South African industry in general – the Single Terroir Tasting is limited in nature by the fact that just 1000 bottles of each wine are produced by the estate in each vintage. Indeed, some of the wines may not be available for tasting due to shortages, but since booking is essential for this tasting, guests will have their expectations managed in advance. Jars of the trio of soils accompany the tasting experience for an immersive journey through the way they influence the grapes – and the resultant winemaking process.
Make time to wander through the immaculate gardens outside the tasting room, which include some stunning Angus Taylor sculptures and perhaps the best views of Franschhoek.
Leeu Estates, Dassenberg Road,
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