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Analjit Singh’s South African Winery voted No.1

Posted: Saturday, 26 March 2016 10:50


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Analjit Singh’s South African Winery voted No.1

March 26: Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines partnered by the husband-wife team of Chris and Andre Mullineux , and Bhai Analjit Singh (BAS), Chairman of the Max India group, have displaced Sadie Family as South Africa’s top wine producer, according to the votes by a panel of local and international wine professionals organised by the Grape online, edited by the noted South African writer, judge and educator Tim James, writes Subhash Arora

Bhai Analjit Singh, Chairman of the Max India group and known as BAS in South Africa, is known to pick out winners. With no particular knowledge or interest in wines before 2010, the whiskey loving billionaire partnered the fast ascending small winery in Swartland called Mullineux in 2012, becoming 48% partner with Chris and Andrea Mullineux who also co-own 48%. (The balance 4% is owned by an original investor).  
Last year Mullineux bagged for the first time in South Africa, 5 stars for FIVE of its labels by the Platter’s Guide 2016 and was declared ‘Winery of the Year’ for the second time (it received this accolade for the first time in the 2014 Awards). Two of their wines were even declared as the Best Red Wine and Best Dessert wine of South Africa. (For an earlier report, visit 671st edition of delWine).

Whether and how much BAS has contributed to the meteoric rise of Mullineux or been a good luck charm for the winery, he is known to have a Midas touch and the small Swartland family winery could have been the beneficiary of that touch as it receives yet another accolade it can be proud of.

Mullineux voted Top Winery

Last weekMullineux & Leeu Family Wines edged past Sadie Family also of Swartland as South Africa’s top wine producer, according to a panel of a few dozen local and international wine professionals who studied around 100 wineries under their lens. The polling was organised by Tim James of Grape Online pages which started as a print magazine and is currently in the online format.

Here is a list of Top Ten producers in the order of ranking by the panel:

1. Mullineux
2. Sadie Family
3. Kanonkop
4. Boekenhoutskloof
5. Alheit
6. Newton Johnson
7. Chamonix
8. Paul Cluver
9. Cape Point Vineyards
10.David & Nadia

The Top Twenty List and The Process of polling for the Top 20 producers, was started 15 years ago by Tim James, owner of the Grape magazine. The Cape wine revolution followed with exciting new wineries emerging- Mullineux did not even exist before 2008! After the maiden polling in 2001, the process was repeated in 2003, 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2014.

This list is naturally open to controversy and no one can claim it as a definitive hierarchy, concedes Tim James. To make it as plausible as possible, he invites a few dozen people to cast their votes. These voters are the people who are ‘reasonably up to date with what is happening here’. The panel changes every time with the eminent foreigners making up an increasingly significant proportion. Whole new category of sommeliers has been added to the critics, judges and retailers in the beginning.

Although no two voters shared exactly the same list, there was a great deal of consensus, especially at the upper ranks, asserts James.

Criteria of selection

No criteria or directions were given to the voters. Each was asked to have his/ her own system giving weightage to a  producer of a single excellent wine made in small quantities or several fine, but not as excellent,wines made in larger volumes.

Top Five were asked to be rated and ranked individually. The next 15 were chosen based on the number of votes cast. Interestingly, there was so much consistency in spotting the Top Five that simply adding the votes and averaging out would have given the same score, according to Tim.

Last year’s top winery, Sadie, was this year overtaken by Mullineux. Both these Swartland producers were way ahead of the next-in line Kanonkop, which in turn well outscored the next two.

Kanonkop has the unique distinction of having been in the Top 5 every poll since 2001 when it was in the first place, followed by Vergelegen, Veenwouden, Neil Ellis and Rustenberg – the last three have dropped out of the current Top 20 list. Three of the current Top 5 had not even released any wines in 2001! Boekenhoutskloof which is being imported in India by Vishal Kadakia of the Wine Park,  is in the same position as last time in 2014. Newton Johnson, the darling of a winery for Pinot Noir, has missed the No.5 spot by one only. Only four wines out of the first list of 2001 find a place in the Top 20 list: Kanonkop, Boekenhoutskloof, Jordan and Klein Constantia- such is the pace of change in South African wines!

Nearly 100 wineries featured among the voting – but many of these received only one or two votes.

Panel of voters

The panel consisted of Sommeliers, Retailers, well-known South African wine writers and critics including Michael Fridjhon; Tim James (owner of Grapes),  Angela Lloyd, Cathy Marston, Christine Rudman (Cape Wine Master and Technical Director of the Michelangelo International Wine Competition 2015) and Cathy van Zyl MW-the first Master of Wine in South Africa and an Associate Editor of Platter. Foreign writes and critics most of whom were from the UK, the biggest market for South African wines, included the South African expert Tim Atkin MW, Tom Cannavan, Dr. Jamie Goode and Neal Martin. For the complete Top Twenty List, visit

Partners in Passion

 I had met the Mullineux couple at the residence of their Indian partner, Analjit Singh for a private dinner when I asked Andréa how they could come out of nowhere, in 2008 and receive so many awards and accolades and make such excellent wines.’ ‘We were passionate enough and clear in our mind that we would make the style we wanted and not what everybody else was doing. That included staying away from too much wood (oak) and very high alcohol. We believed in getting the best grapes from whichever part of Cape possible, not necessarily restricting to one area. This also goes for Leeu estate wines owned by BAS. We believe that wine should be age-worthy but should also give pleasure if drunk young,’ she told me, describing their style.’

Congratulations to Chris, Andrea and BAS as we raise a glass and toast to their continued success  and say Jai Ho!

For an earlier article, please visit
Subhash Arora

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Tags: Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, Bhai Analjit Singh, Max India, Sadie Family, South Africa’s, Tim James, BAS, Mullineux, Chris and Andrea Mullineux, Platter’s Guide 2016, Swartland, Grape Online, Kanonkop, Vergelegen, Veenwouden, Neil Ellis, Rustenberg, Boekenhoutskloof, Vishal Kadakia, Wine Park, Newton Johnson, Klein Constantia, Michael Fridjhon, Angela Lloyd, Cathy Marston, Christine Rudman, Cathy van Zyl MW, Tim Atkin MW, Tom Cannavan, Dr. Jamie Goode, Neal Martin


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