Tag Archives: platters

Ruling with an Iron Schist:

A chat with Andrea Mullineux; the reluctant but undeniable queen of wine.

If the wine biz were showbiz, Andrea and Chris Mullineux would be Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Only a touch more classic. Sonny and Cher, perhaps.

Between the two of them, they have made wines on three different continents for some of the finest producers in the world. Whether Napa, Languedoc, Roussillon, Chateauneuf, Stellenbosch, or most recently, the Swartland, Andrea and Chris have represented some of the most exciting movements in winemaking. Mullineux & Leeu Family wines, with its HQ on Roundstone Farm near Riebeek Kasteel has been named Platter’s Winery of the year twice, is an integral founding element of the Swartland Independent Producers, and just happens to have produced a Platter’s Red Wine of the Year (2016), and Platter’s Dessert wine of the Year (2017).

** if you have no idea what a Platter’s Wine Guide award is, it’s sort of like an Oscar award for South African wines (voted by an academy or panel), rather than a Teen Choice Award-vibe (achieved through populist vote). So, a serious award. Like Tori-Amos-meets-Sinead-O’Connor serious.


And then there is the small matter of Andrea being named “WINE ENTHUSIAST’S WORLD WINEMAKER OF THE YEAR” for 2016. Now, I know that using a shouty BOLD ALL-CAPS typeface is considered rude, but (core blimey) if you can’t use it here, where can you use it? It’s not as if she just won second place at Miss BarleyCorn beauty pageant. The Wine Enthusiast’s World Winemaker award is (as the name suggests) a global accolade that could go to literally any one of the tens of thousands of winemakers the world over. What’s more, it is awarded to a winemaker “with groundbeakbreaking vision”; a game changer; someone who has seen further than their peers. Odin, rather than Loki.

All kneel before Zod!

So when interviewing this viniferic deity, I had hoped for some spicy ego; an element of shock rock…perhaps even a Yeezy-esque fiery third person declaration of grandeur.

Boy, I was I disappointed.

What I experienced instead was (if I’m not mistaken they call them “virtues”) humility, measured responses, a well-defined sense of place and context, and grounded grasp of where Andrea fits in the bigger scheme of things. Sure, it’s a letdown if you’re hoping for headlines & scandal, but if you’re looking to discover the sort of temperament it takes to produce wines that are taking the world by storm, then her thoughts and musings become a treasure trove for anyone with a respect for the earth, its fruit…and jolly stonking decent grog.

Q&A with AM

TMITB: The Wine Enthusiast’s award is for your “groundbreaking vision in winemaking”. If you’ve seen further than your peers, what do you think has been your most meaningful discovery? What have you seen that you’re burning to share with/teach others?

ANDREA: In my opinion I have not seen further, but perhaps I set my mind to a task, put on blinders to naysayers, and have gone for it. My biggest strength is attention to detail in the winery, and the only advice I can share is that it is all the little things that add up, so pay attention to every step along the way.


TMITB: Adi Badenhorst says that “you know exactly what you want in a wine, and the level of fruit it takes to produce that.”

In other interviews, you also talk about making “honest” wines. Is there not a contradiction between having a strong idea of what you want, and allowing the wine to be an honest expression of its terroir? Where is the line between the honesty of fruit & terroir and your personal desire in your winemaking?  Do you actively remove your own preferences in order to express the terroir? Or do you allow your “desire for a result” to influence what you do in the cellar? And does that diminish the notion of an “honest wine”?

ANDREA:I like to say I am the custodian of the wines and that I guide them through life, without forcing them to be something that they don’t want to be. Sometimes I step in a little more and am proactive if I foresee a problem. It is that act of knowing how much of my hand the vintage might need that I think is a strength in making honest wines.

Obviously I have a preference in what kind of expression I like in a wine, but  we chose vineyards that NATURALLY exhibit those qualities, rather than having to force it [in the cellar].


TMITB: What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the SA wine industry on an international stage?

ANDREA: Even though the South African wine industry has been around for several hundred years, it has still only been on the modern international scene for a couple of decades. The quality wines are getting better and better, but it is up to South Africa to create the exposure for the wines. We must not sit back and wait for people to discover us!


TMITB: What excites you most about South African Wine, and what is your hope for its future?

ANDREA: The exponential increase in overall wine quality is the most exciting thing. It means that South African wines are right up there with the best of the world and it is only a matter of time before more people see that internationally.


TMITB: You have some of South Africa’s most exciting winemakers as your friends and neighbours… What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learnt from peers like Adi Badenhorst? Eben Sadie? and Callie Louw?

ANDREA: A rising tide lifts all boats. We are all very close friends and share a lot as winemakers, so we realise that when one of us does well, it uplifts everyone.


TMITB: In your winemaking (or life in general), when you hit a moment of self-doubt, or an emotional low, what are the fears that come to the fore in those times?

ANDREA: Everyone wants to succeed in life, but we need to make sure that all the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears are worth it. We all have to make sacrifices, but we must never regret the way we have lived our lives.


TMITB: Who are the people who inspire you to climb out of those moments? How do they achieve this?

ANDREA: Chris, my husband and business partner is always there for me emotionally. He is my rock and will always brighten my day.


TMITB: Your tip for an up-and-coming winemaker for us to look out for?

ANDREA: My ex-assistant winemaker, Tremayne Smith, is making some awesome wines of his own now, and he really lets his own personal style shine through; both in the wine and the packaging, which is great.

TMITB: Okay, oaky. It’s all good and well to talk about wine until the cows come home, but how much do you really know about someone until you have watched them walk unflinchingly away from a cinematic explosion, while some bad-ass tunes play in the background? Nothing, right? So, for the sake of the exercise, we will just have to imagine you walking in slow motion with flames in the background, but I would need you to pick a song for us to play while we do so. What is your bad-ass-explosion-theme-tune?

ANDREA: Without a doubt, Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion”.

TMITB: A veritably royal choice, M’Lady. Let’s see how that works out!

“Platter’s 2017 5-star” meets “#Feesmustfall”

The Platters Wine Guide held their 2017 Wine Guide Launch last night, which is simultaneously very exciting, and also kind of daunting. Because all of a sudden there are just short of 100 wines of various varieties that have been declared #MustHave #BucketList, #OMG #NomNomNom.

To make matters worse, you will almost certainly not be able to afford a whole bunch of the wines on this list…
(Mvemve Raats MR de Compostella 2014 R1,050.00
David & Nadia Hoe Steen Chenin Blanc R520.00;
Sadie Family Wines Palladius R575.00;
Porseleinberg Syrah 2014 R500.00;
Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir R400.00;
Alheit Radio Lazarus R520.00;
AA Badenhorst Dassiekop Steen R360.00;
Reynecke Reserve Red R400.00)
…which always leaves one wondering whether or not the very fact that you won’t be buying these wines is a sure sign that these wines are the only ones that really hold THE TRUTH ABOUT WINE in the sort of X-Files/DaVinci Code/Dallai Llama sense of the word.

In this regard there is both good news and bad news…
The bad news is that some of the wines mentioned above – those wines in the “I guess I’ll never know” price bracket – really are life-changing/paradigm-shifting/soul-transforming. So, I don’t know, sell a kidney or something.

But the good news is that, if you have read this article on how the Platter’s panel chooses their 5-star wines, you will know that it is all done completely blind, which means that price and reputation have nothing to do with final scoring.

So, because I’m a pal, I have gone and found some of the cheapest wines on the list so that you can get a wine education at the low price of a #feesmustfall-style wine diploma:

Platters 5-star #FeesMustFall List:

  1. Mount Abora Koggelbos Chenin Blanc 2014: +- R105.00
  2. Spice Route Grenache 2014: +- R120.00
  3. Bartinney Chardonnay 2015: +- R140.00
  4. Jordan Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2015: +- R150.00
  5. Stellenrust Barrel-fermented Chenin: +- R150.00
  6. Carl Everson Opstal Chenin Blacn: +- R165.00
  7. Vondeling Babiana 2015 White Blend: +- R165.00
  8. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Chenin: +- R170.00
  9. Diemersdal 8 Rows 2016 Sauvignon Blanc: +- R185.00
  10. Olifantsberg Silhouette Red Blend 2014: +- R190.00
  11. Bosman Family Twyfeling Cinsault 2015: +- R200.00
  12. Thorne & Daughters’ Rocking Horse White Blend: +- R220.00
  13. Trizanne Reserve Syrah 2015: +-R220.00
  14. Iona Solace Syrah: +- R240.00
  15. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: +- R270.00


Then again, if you’re more like Usher, and haven’t looked at a pricetag in over a decade, because price tags are for accountants, not visionaries, then have a gander at the complete list, and hit the bottle store with that Platinum Card. Cheers!

The Headline awards:

White Wine of the Year: Stellenrust 51 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2015

Red Wine of the Year: The Winery of Good Hope Radford Dale Black Rock 2014

Dessert Wine of the Year: Mullineux & Leeu Straw Wine 2015

Winery of the Year: Nederburg Wines


The rest of the 5-Star line-up for 2017:

Cabernet Franc

  1. Warwick 2013

Cabernet Sauvignon

  1. Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2013
  2. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2012
  3. Nederburg Private Bin R163 2013
  4. Tokara Reserve 2013


  1. Bosman Family Twyfeling 2015
  2. Kaapzicht Skuinsberg 2015

Grenache Noir

  1. Spice Route 2014
  2. Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Limited Release 2015


  1. Laibach Claypot 2014
  2. Shannon Mount Bullet 2013


  1. Beeslaar 2014
  2. Flagstone Time Manner Place 2014

Pinot Noir

  1. Hamilton Russell 2015
  2. Newton Johnson Family Vineyards CWG Auction Reserve Seadragon 2015
  3. Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2015


  1. Fable Syrah 2014
  2. Iona Solace Syrah 2014
  3. Keermont Topside Syrah 2014
  4. La Motte Pierneef Syrah-Viognier 2014
  5. Porseleinberg 2014
  6. Reyneke Reserve Red 2014
  7. Richard Kershaw Clonal Selection Elgin Syrah 2014
  8. Ronnie B Sons of Sugarland Syrah 2015
  9. Trizanne Reserve Syrah 2015

Red blends

  1. Artisanal Boutique Winery JJ Handmade Eight Pillars 2013
  2. Chamonix Troika 2014
  3. Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve 2013
  4. Mvemve Raats MR de Compostella 2014
  5. Nederburg Heritage Heroes The Brew Master 2014
  6. Olifantsberg Silhouette 2014


  1. Bartinney 2015
  2. Chamonix 2015
  3. Chamonix Reserve 2015
  4. Delaire Graff Banghoek Reserve 2015
  5. DeMorgenzon Reserve 2015
  6. Groot Constantia 2015
  7. Hamilton Russell 2015
  8. Haskell Anvil 2015
  9. Iona 2015
  10. Jordan Barrel Fermented 2015
  11. Jordan CWG Auction Reserve 2015
  12. La Vierge Apogée 2015
  13. Meerlust 2015
  14. Môreson Mercator Premium 2014
  15. Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2015
  16. Restless River Ava Marie 2014
  17. Richard Kershaw Deconstructed Lake District Bokkeveld Shales CY95 2015

Chenin Blanc

  1. AA Badenhorst Dassiekop Steen 2015
  2. Alheit Radio Lazarus 2015
  3. Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2015
  4. Bellingham Bernard Series Old Vine 2015
  5. Botanica Mary Delany 2015
  6. David & Nadia 2015
  7. David & Nadia Hoë-Steen 2015
  8. Edgebaston Camino Africa David Finlayson 2015
  9. Fram 2015
  10. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2015
  11. Mount Abora Koggelbos 2014
  12. Opstal Carl Everson 2015
  13. Ronnie B Patatsfontein Steen 2015
  14. Sadie Family Skurfberg 2015
  15. Spioenkop 1900 2015

Sauvignon Blanc

  1. Bloemendal Suider Terras 2015
  2. Diemersdal 8 Rows 2016
  3. Diemersdal MM Louw 2015
  4. Fleur du Cap Unfiltered 2015
  5. Hermanuspietersfontein Nr 5 Kat Met Die Houtbeen 2014
  6. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2015
  7. Mulderbosch 1000 Miles 2015
  8. Nederburg Private Bin D234 2015
  9. Skaap 44 2015


  1. Botanica Mary Delany 2015
  2. Opstal The Barber 2015
  3. Sadie Family Kokerboom 2015
  4. Shannon 2015

White Blends

  1. Alheit Hemelrand Vine Garden 2015
  2. Beaumont ‘New Baby’ 2015
  3. David & Nadia Aristargos 2015
  4. GlenWood Vigneron’s Selection Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc 2015
  5. Sadie Family Palladius 2014
  6. Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse 2015
  7. Tokara Director’s Reserve 2015
  8. Vondeling Babiana 2015

Dessert Wine, Unfortified

  1. Delheim Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest 2015
  2. Donkiesbaai Hooiwijn Vin de Paille 2015
  3. Fleur du Cap Bergkelder Selection Noble Late Harvest 2015
  4. Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Natural Sweet 2012
  5. Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2015
  6. Perdeberg Speciality Natural Sweet Chenin Blanc 2014
  7. Stellar Heaven on Earth Natural Sweet NV


  1. Boplaas Potstill Reserve 12 Years

For the slow and steady:

While I am in now way affiliated with Platter’s Wine Guide (by Diner’s Club, in case you were wondering) I can completely see the merit in subscribing to the iOS/Android app and having access to this information on your phone. Simply because, as seems to be a theme with this blog, much of the value in a wine lies in not only what it tastes like, but who made it, the ethos behind it, and the region from which it hails. Platter’s mobile app offers all this in a manner that is usually not annoying or riddled with bugs.

So if you want to know where you can stick Platter’s 2017 Guide, the answer is…on your mobile. Very funny. Yes, I am aware.


Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2013

TLDR: Very few bottles can cost of R300 and still be worth it. This one of them//
Quality: 18/20//
Price: R320 (as of Sept 2016) //
Value: 3/5 //
Ponce factor: High //
Occasion: Solo time. Just you, the universe, and this bottle of wine.//
Key words:  Mouthfeel, Platters ratings//
Vivino rating //

Tasting notes:

Top of the table in a blind tasting against some of SA’s finest Pinot Noirs. Beating out both Hamilton Russell and Catherine Marshall, this PN boasts gorgeous vanguard aromas of red licorice, ripe plums and cherry fruit, all elevated to the level of sublime by complications of smoky oak spice on both the front and back end.

There aren’t very many wines that can charge R300 for a bottle and still deliver good value. But this is surely one of them.

Something to fill those awkward silences…

What is the Platters Wine Guide?

Journalists John Platter and his wife Erica published their first little wine guide in 1980. Since then, they have sold over a million copies, and won “Best Worldwide Annual Wine Guide” on two occasions. Almost 40 years after inception, the Platters have handed over all the legwork to a distinguished team 16 sommeliers, wine entrepreneurs, journalists, architects, wine authors, and WSET judges. The larger team not only allows a more thorough covering of the vast South African wine industry, but also pools the combined expertise from a wide range of wine-related industries.

Biased or belligerent?
When a movie critic slates a film for being an embarrassment to the academy, or a soul-sapping, time-sucking torturous two hours of cruel and unusual punishment, the public, by and large, do not cry foul and issue withering accusations of impartiality. Instead, they choose to either agree or disagree with a given verdict.

On occasions, Platter’s too, has been accused of lacking objectivity, but usually these criticisms are levelled by people who misunderstand why the guide exists in the first place. It is not a purely qualitative assessment of the liquid within the bottle, disembodied from the people and institutions that actually make said liquid. And it is also not an impartial blind assessment of the wines listed.

So what is it then?

For the people by the people about the people.
Platters is, instead, an in-depth look at the individuals, vineyards, wine philosophies, production techniques, and the wineries themselves, that all act together to deliver a wine experience. This includes elements both inside and outside the bottle

Because the guide is written by humans, who all have their own biases and stylistic preferences, it is no wonder that certain wineries and winemakers (who may appeal to these biases) seem to garner more coverage than others.

But it should be remembered that Platters is written by a large panel of judges of different ages, genders, cultures and professions, and so any apparent biases that do emerge in the final product have only done so because they have managed to impress enough of the panel to successfully motivate for said prominence. In other words, if the guide says that something is awesome, it might (just maybe, perhaps, possibly) be exactly that.

One big fat 5-star exception.
Having said that the wines are not rated in blind tastings, there is an exception to this process.

All wines that receive ratings of 4.5 stars during the first few phases of judging then go into a final round of judging, which is performed entirely blind. It is only during this blind tasting that any wine is awarded 5-star status. In Platter’s own words, a 5-star wine is “Superlative. A South African Classic”, and one can rest assured that the ever-elusive final half-a-star is awarded purely on the quality of the contents of the bottle. A comforting thought when forking out R320 for a bottle of wine!