A Sweet End to the Day
Upon first tasting the 2011 Mullineux, Straw Wine I was immediately reminded of a quality Sauternes. Rather one with the residual sugar and acidity turned up to 11. In fact there is enough residual sugar in this wine that the drips on bottle become sticky with time. The method of vinification is interesting and perhaps best that I quote directly from the Mullineux website.
Grapes are harvested at normal ripeness level of 23° Brix. They are left to dry outdoors on racks and wires for roughly 3 weeks. This process allows moisture to evaporate from the berries, concentrating sugars, acids and flavor.
When the grapes have shriveled half way to becoming raisins and the sugar has increased to about 54° Brix, they are brought to the cellar where they are crushed and pressed whole bunch, and racked straight to old 225L barrels. A small amount of sulphur (30ppm) is added to inhibit bacteria but allow the natural yeast to ferment. Fermentation takes roughly 6 months, and stops naturally when the yeast cannot ferment any further. Once fermentation is complete we treat the 6 barrels differently. Some barrels are not topped, but allowed to oxidize slowly, to build complexity. Some barrels are topped every few months, but left without sulphur, and the remaining barrels are dosed with sulphur and are topped every couple of months to maintain their purity and fruit. After 12 months all the barrels are racked and blended, and the wine is bottled unfiltered and unfined.
From the 2011 Mullineux, Straw Wine Fact Sheet
The wine itself already offers up a lot of complexity and drank well from the very first glass. It did not seem to change over the four days I drank the half-bottle, it remained perfectly in balance. I suspect the barrels which were allowed to oxidize are responsible for this wine being impervious to air. This is where I became stuck. With a wine such as the 2007 Chateau Sigalas Rabaud I can imagine its development trajectory. With the Mullineux I get the strong impression it will last for a few decades but will it develop or improve? Perhaps that is academic since it is great to drink right now. I really did not feel like writing down a tasting note or scoring the wine. I just wanted to drink and be seduced by my glass of this sweet wine. And that is what I recommend you do as well. This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.
2011 Mullineux, Straw Wine, Swartland – (375 mL) $29
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils. This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from 32-40+ year old vines. which was air-dried, fermented for six months, then aged for 12 moths in old French oak barrels. TA 9.9 g/l, RS 229 g/l, Alcohol 12.0%. The nose is of apricot with an apple note. In the mouth there is tangy fruit, spiced dried apricot, and more tang. The residual sugar and acidity are all in balance. There is a bit of floral tea flavors which are a touch salty. There is plenty of residual sugar. With air sweet spiced textured fruit come out. There is a marmalade aroma in a finished glass. **** Now-2033.