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Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines

After working several vintages at wineries in France, South Africa and California, Chris and Andrea chose to settle in the Swartland region of South Africa, firmly believing that the granite and schist-based terroirs and old vineyards of the Swartland have the potential to produce truly great wines.

Millineux & Leeu Family Wines is a highly focused family winery based near the village of Riebeek Kasteel, in the Swartland region of South Africa. They produce a select range of hand-crafted wines from the granite and shale based soils of the area.

The Swartland is a beautiful and wild place. The landscape is a series of rolling hills with a few significant outcrops of rock that form the Paardeberg, Kasteelberg and Piketberg mountains. It is not an easy place to establish vines and is a region that has as much of an influence on the vineyards and people who farm there as the people have on the land itself.

“We feel the Swartland landscape bares the souls of grape vines and in those varieties that can take the ruggedness, true personality of site is revealed.”

Mullineux was established in 2007, when Chris and Andrea Mullineux settled in the Swartland wine region, 60km north of Cape Town. Within a very short period, the winery established iteslef as one of South Africa’s most celebrated wine brands, both locally and on the international front. By 2020, the winery had received thirty 5-star ratings from Platter’s South African Wine Guide, as well as being awarded Platter’s Winery of the Year an unprecedented 4 times, in 2014, 2016, 2019 and 2020. In addition, Andrea was named Wine Enthusiast’s 2016 Internationl Winemaker of the Year and in 2016, Chris and Andrea were Tim Atkin’s South African Winemakers of the year.

In 2013, Chris and Andrea joined forces with Analijt Singh. Together with founding partner Peter Dart, they started a parallel winery in Franschhoek called Leeu Passant. The Leeu Passant winery located on Leeu Estates, which also is the home of Analijt’s hospitality portfolio, the Leeu Collection.

Their aim is to bottle wines that are a true expression of the Swartland. All steps of their winemaking process are taken with this aim in mind and they pay the highest possible attention to detail in everything they do. A natural, minimalist approach is followed both in the vineyard and the cellar. They work closely with a select group of growers who follow sustainable, reasoned farming practices. In the cellar, apart from minimal amoounts of sulphur, nothing is added to or removed from their wines. They do not make use of any yeasts, acids, tannins, enzymes or fining and filtering agents.

Soils

Three main soil types have evolved in the Swartland from the parent materials that dominate the area, these are shale/schist, granite, and iron-based soils; each with very different characteristics and therefore creating unique growing conditions. Wine produced from schist-based soils tend to have blue fruit and earthy character. They are well structure with good acidity and form the backbone of any blend. Granite soils consist of a sandy topsoil that is extremely well drained, but the thick, dense layer of clay (which often lies meters below the surface) acts as a slow release sponge for the vines deeper roots over the summer. Wines from granite soils tend to be exceptionally pure with a granitic perfume and nervy acidity.

Vines grown in gravel & iron based soils struggle to grow, as there is never excess water about (resulting in extremely low yields) but they are protected from serious stress by the soil’s water retention capacity. This helps the vines towards the end of summer, when it is very dry in the Swartland, allowing them time to build complexity and tannin in the grapes. Wines produced from these soils tend to be deep in colour and are very concentrated. They easily show reduction, while being structured and grippy on the palate. They bring loads of mid-palate to any blend.

Swartland Geology

Although viticulture in the Western Cape is relatively young, the geology is quite old. Their vines are planted on the most ancient viticultural soils on earth, and we need to go back half a billion years to see how the landscape evolved.

Through tectonic collisions and of the continents some millions of years ago, the shale based soils found in the Malmesbury area were infused by Magma, from deep within the earth. It rose along the continental fault line into the thick shale deposit, and slowly cooled and crystalised into the granite rocks and hills we see exposed today.

Later, because of the continents separating, it caused the surface to subside and become covered from the north by very deep deposits of Sandstone, called the Cape Supergroup.

Viticulture

The Swartland is perfectly suited to natural methods of farming. Very low summer rainfall coupled with afternoon and evening breezes off the Atlantic Ocean results in low disease pressure. Vineyards are often planted in amongst the natural rhenoster veldt and fynbos, which provide refuge for predators of vineyard pests, and help reduce the spread of disease. Weeds struggle to establish themselves and spread, making it easier to control them without the need of herbicides.

TL;DR

  • Three main soil types have evolved in the Swartland from the parent materials that dominate the area, these are shale/schist, granite, and iron-based soils; each with very different characteristics and therefore creating unique growing conditions.

  • Although viticulture in the Western Cape is relatively young, the geology is quite old. Their vines are planted on the most ancient viticultural soils on earth, and we need to go back half a billion years to see how the landscape evolved.

  • The Swartland is perfectly suited to natural methods of farming. Very low summer rainfall coupled with afternoon and evening breezes off the Atlantic Ocean results in low disease pressure.

Fresh from the Winery

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