Hand-harvested from a single vineyard on the loamy slopes of Helderberg Mountain. The grapes were chilled before being wholebunch pressed. The must was allowed to settle overnight, then racked to barrels for spontaneous fermentation at controlled temperature. After a 42-day fermentation period, the wine spent 12 months on the lees in barriques (30% new), before being blended then aged in barrels for a further 6 months before bottling. Minimal sulphur added.
Every year the New World offers ever more genuinely great wines that make a nonsense those silly ideas of Old World superiority. In South Africa, it would be hard to find better examples than the Leeu Passant wines of Chris and Andrea Mullineux.
Today we present their 2017 Helderburg chardonnay. This is a wine continues to receive rave reviews and extraordinarily high critic scores each vintage (2016 and 2017 were both awarded five star by South Africa's Platter's Wine Guide), but it also shows just how far South African chardonnay has come in a very short time: for most of the 20th century what South African farmers though was chardonnay was in fact the second-rate Auxerrois; even up to 30 years ago, winemakers like Peter Finlayson at Hamilton Russell and Danie de Wet at De Westhof were having to smuggle top-quality chardonnay vine material into South Africa to overcome the tedious bureaucracy surrounding the introduction of new vine material at the time.
FROM THE PRESS
“From a Helderberg vineyard 400m above sea level. Matured for 12 months in 225-litre barrels, 30% new. A very expressive nose with a top note of blossom before lemon and grapefruit plus a hint of reduction. The palate has lovely depth of fruit, coated acidity and a super-long, salty finish. It’s a beautifully judged wine with great poise and detail and my favourite vintage to date.”96/100, Christian Eedes, Winemag.co.za
“This superb Chardonnay, sourced from the same Helderberg vineyard as the 2015 and 2016, is 'all about the maritime climate', according to Andrea Mullineux. Picked late yet wonderfully focused and refreshing, this is nuanced, elegant and stylishly oaked with subtle lees and pithy acidity complemented by 100% malolactic fermentation. 2020-27”Tim Atkin MW, 2019 South Africa Special Report, 96 points