Nov 14: The 40th edition of Platter’s South African Wine Guide released on November 8, declared Mullineux and Leeu Family Estate, partnered by the Indian billionaire Bhai Analjit Singh (BAS) and Chris-Andrea Mullineux, as the Top Performing Winery of the Year for 2020 due to maximum labels winning the 5-star category (95 points and higher), writes Subhash Arora who congratulates them for the record 4th title in 2014, 2016 and 2019 and now 2020
It is known inside the Indian industry that Bhai Analjit Singh (known as BAS in South Africa) has a Midas Touch- any business he touches becomes Gold- be it Electronic, Telecom, Hospitals or Insurance sector where his Max group made him ultra successful and wealthy. When he took a shine to the wine industry, his first infatuation was with India’s biggest winery- Sula in which he tried to invest against stiff competition from Ravi Viswanathan from Singapore, who was able to invest with his Private Equity Company Visvires along with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Capital.
A chance visit to South Africa made BAS fall in love with that country and he decided to invest there instead. He zeroed in on the family-owned winery owned by Chris Mullineux and his American winemaker wife Andrea (thanks to the famous viticulturist Rosa Kruger connection) who were looking for new investors. The rest, as the Articles refer at the end of this Article, is history.
While Viswanathan made his millions in the investment in Sula and cashed out, meandering his way to the Chairman’s seat in the board of Grover Zampa Vineyards (GZV), with a clear majority, Singh (known as Leeu in South Africa) expanded in the wine and hospitality sector in South Africa and is now expanding in the international wine and hospitality business.
Soon after he entered the business in 2012-13, his co-owned Swartland-based Mullineux won Platter’s Best Performing Winery Award in 2014 for the first time- a feat repeated in 2016, 2019 and again for the record 4th time last week in 2020. The wines that rated 5 Stars are:
- 2018 Mullineux Old Vines White Blend (96)
- 2017 Mullineux GRANITE Syrah (98)-Platter's Syrah of the Year
- 2017 Mullineux SCHIST Syrah (96)
- 2017 Mullineux IRON Syrah (97)
- 2018 Mullineux Straw Wine (97)-Platter's Vin de Paille of the Year
- 2017 Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chard (97)- (Platter's Chardonnay of the Year-tied)
- 2014 CWG Leeu Passant Radicales Libres (96)
This takes the total of 5-star Awards to 32 so far. Incidentally, the Leeu Passant cellar was set up in Franschhoek with the joint vision of Chris, Andrea and Analjit. The first release was in 2017 and it is remarkable how two of its wines have achieved the 5-star status in such a short time.
I had the pleasure of tasting some of these labels a few years ago when Cathy Van Zyl MW, one of the Tasters for the Platter’s Guide, kindly drove me to their Tasting Room in Franschhoek. Van Zyl was in Russia when I contacted her about her view on the exciting news for the Estate. Her response was instant.
She wrote, ‘as far as Andrea & Chris Mullineux and their remarkable achievement this year, it was truly an honour and a humbling experience to taste their portfolio. Their attention to detail, facilitated by a small but loyal and highly professional team across all disciplines is legendary, from farm to cellar to distribution. In an industry that has a strong foundation of high-quality producers and a healthy core of slightly newer and younger producers, I personally believe they shone, and that belief was validated by the blind tasting during which the 5 stars were awarded.’ As she indicated, all wines are tasted blind for the 5-star Awards.
Cathy is the first Master of Wine from South Africa and a recognised excellent taster and judges in international competitions like International Wine Challenge (IWC) where she has been a panel president for several years. ‘This was a particularly strong year for many producers; just consider the achievements of Eben Sadie, David & Nadia Sadie and Rust en Vrede to name but a few; they also achieved 5- star status for many wines in their portfolios,’ she comments.
‘Tasting for the Platter's Wine Guide is one of the highlights of my wine year. Not only because I have producers of the calibre of the Mullineux to review, has it given me exposure to producers of all sizes, styles and quality levels. It gives me the opportunity to taste across the spectrum of the industry’ she says. Her palate goes for wines that are well-toned and savoury rather than plush and opulent or taut and austere.
The Platter's Guide by Diners Club is widely recognised as the most authoritative and comprehensive guide to the world of South African wine. This year more than 9000 wines were tasted, with only 125 wines achieving the coveted 5-star rating. This accolade is reserved for wines that are South African classics and score 95 points or more on the internationally recognised 100-point scale.
Perhaps, one could say BAS- Bhai Analjit Singh, had a touch of gold in India but in South Africa, the Leeu has truly a touch of diamond of the kind that is mined in that country. And the picture of Chris and Andrea Mullineux alongside reminds me of an old, famous Bollywood song, ‘Mere desh ke dharti sona uglay, uglay heeray moti’ (The land in my country bears gold, diamonds and pearls!).
If you travel to South Africa, you must visit the Tasting Room at Franschhoek Estate to taste the ‘gold, diamonds and pearls’ from Mullineux and Leeu Passant. The Wine Studio, situated on Leeu Estates in Franschhoek is open from 10 Am to 5 pm. Wines can be purchased from their newly opened Wine Boutique in Le Quartier Francais in the heart of Franschhoek. To book a tasting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a few of the earlier related Articles, please visit:
Mullineux wins Top Accolade from Platter’s Wine Guide 2019
The Mullineux are Winemakers of the Year for Tim Atkin MW
Analjit Singh’s Winery Partner Andrea Mullineux Winemaker of the Year
Analjit Singh’s South African Winery voted No.1
Mullineux Story with Chris and Andrea
BAS: Good Luck Charm for South African Winery
Platter’s 2020 Wines of the Year
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