There’s nothing really wrong with most Chenin Blanc from South Africa, it’s usually a perfectly nice breezy linen shift of a wine to throw in your bag for the day at the beach. This couldn’t be said about South African wine five to ten years ago, and for that reason alone, it has to be politely acknowledged that most South African wines have improved immensely. Well done.
Then you taste Mullineux White from Swartland, South Africa. This is when you suddenly realise the danger of being too nice, wondering where the hell does it get you anyway. Sometimes good manners can be a shorthand for laziness. This is such an intelligent wine that it makes all other wines from South Africa appear like they need to try harder.
This wine combines extremely intelligent vineyard practices to create something uniquely South African with South Africa’s (in)famous variety Chenin Blanc – or “steen” as I remember it almost sneered. It has a waxy character reminiscent of a very good Savennieres but with a white Rhone sensibility (due to the blend of Chenin Blanc with Viognier, Clairette Blanc and Grenache Blanc).
Mullineux White just raised the bar for not only South African wine, but all winemaking in general. Incredible attention to detail, an acknowledgment to the history of the varieties and a deep wit that tests all your own lines. Incredible.
Link: I’m tellin’ you, Mullineux from Drinking Outside the Box
Image: Series N°33 White by Robert Ryman