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Mullineux, Syrah Swartland, 2016

Schist and shale are keys to the great terroirs of Cote Rotie and it turns out they have the same rocks in Swartland, along with a good dose of shale for good measure. This is half made with whole clusters and then aged in barrels, very few of which are new. This is elegant Syrah.


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Mullineux Family Wines was established in 2007 in the Swartland region of South Africa, by Chris and Andrea Mullineux. The Swartland is South Africa's wine frontier. Located an hour's drive away from the the industry's qualitative and established center of Stellenbosch, the Swartland is rolling hills of wheat and jagged outcrops of old vines, remnants of a once industrious cooperative-fueled sector of the wine industry that built itself on volumes rather than quality. Mostly red and white Rhône varieties and old-vine Chenin Blanc vines dot the hillsides.

This along with Swartland kaleidoscopic variety of soil is what according to Chris made the Swartland a “no brainer” when it was time to establish their own winery. At the Mullineaux home vineyard in Riebeek Kasteel, they have a variety of schist and shale. But they’re not just restricting themselves to just one terroir type – they are leasing vineyard blocks across the region, from a range of soils, with 7 hectares across 21 different vineyards. Both had worked at Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards, a Swartland pioneer, making connections and relationships with farmers. Always keeping an eye out for the best growers, these connections would become invaluable when they decided to strike out on their own.

The Mullineux approach, in both the vineyard and winery, is to work as naturally as possible without compromising quality. The approach is pragmatic and not tied down to any dogma. Organic and biodynamic principles are applied in the vineyards and nothing is ever added to the wine except for a touch of sulfur. The idea is to get out of the way of terroir and to produce wines that are elegant and vibrant; true expressions of the Swartland.

Mullineux family wines has grown exponentially since the beginning. As well as producing wine under Mullineaux (appellation blend and single terroir bottlings), they make wines under the Kloof Street label. These fresh and too easy to drink, modestly priced bottles may be a touch simpler than their older siblings but they are made in the same exacting terroir forward manner.

With the help of an investor, Chris and Andrea have begun a new project and winery in Franshoek. Known as Leeu Passan it opened up the possibility of working with new, exciting vineyards and varieties, some outside of Swartland. Many of these vineyards are quite old, including 120 year old Cinsault and old-vine Chardonnay.

Professional Reviews

Robert Parker

RP 90
"The 2016 Syrah has an elegant nose of red and black fruit with subtle black pepper aromas and soft florals tones. On the palate, the wine has a shy yet chewy red core with a tannic edge that drives through to the mid-palate. The finish is grippy, with a firm structure, tight red-fruit tannins and black spice wound up with complex mineral tones. While it may be food-friendly now, it will last for years to come." -Robert Parker


D 93
"Love this nose – so unmistakably Syrah in its fresh juniper, Provençal herbs and floral raspberry fragrance. It’s a super-fresh, drinkable style that’s very well balanced with plenty of fluidity and no overt thickness of texture. Beautifully detailed, crisp tannic lines, and while it’s not long it’s very satisfying, with a saline kick – a spitting-image for a good St-Joseph. Aged for 14 months in various sizes of barrel, 15% new."

What importer Skurnik Wines has to say about this wine...

100% Syrah. Grapes for the Mullineux Syrah come from seven sustainably farmed vineyard parcels in different parts of the Swartland: four parcels planted in the stony Shale and Schist based soils of the Kasteelberg; two parcels of dry-land, bush vines grown in the decomposed Granite of the Paardeberg; and one on the rolling, iron-rich soils west of Malmesbury. Vines are aged between 20 and 27 years. 50% whole cluster fermentation and pigeage occurs once or twice a day during fermentation. Aged 14 months in French oak 225L and 500L barrels and 2000L foudre, 15% new. 13.5% ABV, pH 3.77. 2,630 cases produced.


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    Medium Full