The Buyer
The Mullineuxs: a benchmark for New Wave South Africa

The Mullineuxs: a benchmark for New Wave South Africa

You can tell when a winemaker stands out in their market when fellow winemakers consistently pick them out as someone they respect, admire or look to advice from. South Africa’s Chris and Andrea Mullineux certainly fall into that category. They are also a winemaking team others want to collaborate with. You can see and taste their wines for yourself at next month’s New Wave South African wine tasting on October 11.

Richard Siddle
22nd September 2017by Richard Siddle
posted in People: Producer,

The New Wave South Africa tasting on October 11 promises to deliver what it says by bringing together some of the most exciting winemakers in South Africa and show the exciting wine scene in the cape, like with Chris Mullineux of Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines that will be part of Fields Morris & Verdin’s showcase.

Arguably one of the main reasons why the South African wine scene has been able to develop so quickly over recent years is how close the winemaking community is and how much collaboration and sharing of ideas there is between the winemakers and producers. The New Wave South African tasting in London on October 11 is equally a collaboration. A partnership between different UK importers who realise they can achieve far more by working together to show their combined ranges rather than put on individual tastings.

Distributors that include Swig, Indigo Wine, Dreyfus Ashby, New Generation Wines and Fields Morris & Verdin – a key home for Chris and Andrea Mullineux wines in the UK. The result will be Round Two for the New Wave tasting initiative that broke new ground when it was first held in October 2015. This year the distributors are confident they will be able to capture even more of the excitement that is taking place in South Africa.

Chris Mullineux gives his take on the South African wine scene and what we can expect on October 11.

Why are you involved in the New Wave tasting – what are you particularly hoping to achieve?

We’re here to show the UK wine trade and media that South African wine is a seriously exciting proposition right now. As a handpicked group of the best producers of South Africa there is a very clear message to experience at New Wave.

What did you think the first New Wave tasting in 2015 achieved?

It was the best generic tasting I have been to. By some distance. The organisers got two things right. Firstly, there are so many really special producers in South Africa at the moment, and the organisers of the 2015 event did a great job to get pretty much all the good ones in one place. Secondly the organisers managed to get all the best UK trade to come meet them. Everything just came together… a perfect storm.

There seems to be a camaraderie amongst winemakers in South Africa… is it something you feel aware of and do you think it’s played a part in your own development?

Eben Sadie has done much to lead the way for other winemakers, says Chris Mullineux

For sure. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it was not for the camaraderie. It starts from the top. Producers like Eben Sadie set the example in the early 2000’s. He was willing to help anybody get off the ground, and the younger guys and girls have taken that attitude on. We all realise that our competition is not each other… it’s those pesky Aussies, French, Californian (and other) wine producing nations who think they can make wine too.

Who has been your greatest influence, both internationally and locally?

There are several, and they are all equally important. Anybody aiming to bottle pure wines that have balance, harmony and a sense of place.

Have there been significant developments for you and your winery over the two years?

The Leeu Passant iniitative in Franschoek is a joint partnership between Chris and Andrea Mullineux and their partner Analjit Singh

Yes, we purchased some of our own land in the Swartland a few years ago and have been developing it for our Mullineux label. As our industry is growing it’s becoming critical to own, and therefore truly control, a decent portion of your own vineyards. We have also been working on a new project called Leeu Passant in Franschoek since 2013 and we finally released the first wines under the label in April this year.

How do you see the overall South African wine industry – what advances have been made?

It is super complex. There are several producers flying high, making great wines and selling on tight allocations. There is also still a mass of wineries that are struggling, and lots of farmers not making a profit. The potential is there, but hard work and a clear focused plan is needed to succeed.

What challenges are there for you and the industry as a whole?

I see three key challenges: climate change; the international perception of our wines still needs to be raised more; and how we can all work within whatis such global economic volatility.

Chris and Andrea on their estate at Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines

How do you see the UK market?

For our winery, the UK is our most important market outside of South Africa. We have historically had strong ties to the UK, the consumers understand and are aware of our industry, and are awake to the fact that our wines have improved immensely, and are still on the up. Plus for we personally are fortunate to work with the most fantastic importer and agent in Fields Morris & Verdin.

What other markets are opening up for you around the world – and why?

Japan – they have no preconceived ideas and have been bitten hard by the South African bug!

Give us your elevator pitch why a buyer should come and taste your wines at the tasting?

Because they are the Schist. Well, at least one of them is.

Whilst you are in the UK, what’s your favourite British dish?

Kippers and toast (preferably brown) is what awaits Chris Mullineux during his visit

Kippers! When I travel I love eating traditional local breakfasts, and discovering Orkney Kippers on toast at Brown’s Hotel was a revelation for me.

Your favourite UK restaurant and why?

Nobody does it better: Bruce Poole and Chez Bruce

There are too many to mention in London, but the first that springs to mind is Chez Bruce. Why? Firstly, I love all the restaurants that Nigel Platts-Martin is involved in. Bruce Poole’s cuisine is clean, precise and unfussy, and the fantastic wine list is deep and interesting. Plus it has such history with Marco Pierre White working there before (when it was Harvey’s – Ed). I also love strolling around Soho and discovering places like Hoppers, 10 Greek Street, etc…

Best place for a drink? 

If you can get an invite Greg Sherwood MW’s backyard is the place to go for a drink…

For wine: Noble Rot, or Greg Sherwood’s backyard. For other alcoholic beverages: Dandelyan or the Connaught

What are you looking forward to drinking in London?

The great thing about London is how many options you have, from the classic to the obscure, so I’ll be drinking whatever you’re pouring!

Favourite city in the world (outside South Africa)?

New York.

Best thing to do as a tourist in London?


Best place to go to meet another South African?

At the New Wave Tasting!?

  • The Buyer will be featuring other South African winemakers and their UK importers and what to expect at the tasting over the coming weeks.