Sakkie Mouton Family Wines Breaks New Ground Launching a South African Unicorn Vermentino from Koekenaap…

I am a massive fan of Vermentino whether grown in the Italian regions of Liguria, the Maremma, Corsica and Sardinia or down in Provence in the sun-baked South of France where it is generally known as Rolle. This maiden Vermentino release from the hugely talented young gun Sakkie Mouton is certainly an unusual grape to find produced in South Africa but is also an inspired choice for his electric (and eclectic) style of winemaking.

A picture from the Mouton family album… shows his grandfather riding a bull on the beach up the Wes Kus (West Coast) in what looks like circa 1950s to me!? This wine is a celebration of eccentricity in a world of mass conformity.

Like Sakkie’s highly sought-after Revenge of the Crayfish Chenin Blanc, this wine is sourced from a tiny patch of Vermentino vines grown on sandy soils in Koekenaap planted in 2017, located 15 kilometres from the cold Atlantic Ocean. For me, one of the most exciting aspects of Sakkie’s winemaking is that whatever grape variety he chooses to turn his hand to, you can be assured that the end result will reflect the regional terroir of Koekenaap almost more intensely than any individual expression of the grape variety. The unwaveringly maritime and saline characteristics of this barren coastal terroir up the West Coast has become almost synonymous as Sakkie Mouton’s signature style and these particular Vermentino grapes are located no more than 600 metres away from his Crayfish Chenin Blanc vineyard with its decomposed sandstone soils with pockets of limestone which lend great minerality and low pH’s to the finished wines.

The Vermentino grapes for this 2021 maiden release actually form part of a complex viticultural story with vines planted originally by Vinpro as part of a programme of small batch experimental vineyards developed around interesting viticultural areas to see if these experimental varieties might work on a more commercial scale. Similar projects today see Vinpro planting Assyrtiko vineyards to assess their future potential, but not to be confused with Gary Jordan who has pioneered this variety in South Africa and is already on his third tranche of vineyard plantings in Stellenbosch!

An animated story for sure but as Sakkie points out, Vermentino did not eventually crack the nod from Vinpro as growers immediately saw that the variety would not produce sufficient yields and the extraction process for Vermentino subsequently proved way too difficult for commercial purposes with lower than expected juice yields.

But with Sakkie ignoring adversity, the grapes from this micro vineyard were hand harvested early in the morning, then taken to a cold room facility for cooling. The grapes were foot trodden as whole bunches in an old basket press with the juice being transferred to cold settle for 12 hours in a stainless steel tank. The clear juice was then racked into 228 litre barrels to ferment naturally. The finished wine was aged on its gross lees for four months with regular stirring of the lees. After four months in the 228 litre barrels, the wine was racked into 500 litre barrels for a further two months of aging. Nothing was added to the wine except sulphur before bottling. The wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Sakkie Mouton Family Wines Sand Erf Vermentino 2021, WO Koekenaap, 12.5% Abv.

8.2 TA | 1.0 RS | 3.12 pH

This delicious Vermentino expression, like many of the best premium old-world styles offers up an intense, complex aromatic array of crunchy white pears, green apples and white peaches all underpinned by a pronounced stony crushed rock minerality. Give the glass another swirl and yet more aromas of lime peel, honeydew melon and tangerine waft out the bowl. With Vermentino’s higher than usual phenols, the palate shows a delicious green almond bitterness that melts into a mouth-watering melange of glycerol pink grapefruit, pear pastille and freshly cut fennel which bears pronounced maritime notes of rock salt and tangy citric acids. Medium bodied but displaying an almost creamy texture, this wine is both generous and bracing all at the same time, confounding the palate with its profound salinity. If there is one thing that Sakkie Mouton is good at, it is making articulate white wines that challenge the senses before ultimately seducing them with effortless harmony, freshness and balance. Simply delightful to drink now, but with several more years of ageing, this wine will undoubtedly start to show more of its true Vermentino DNA with notes of floral-infused honey, chamomile and toasted almonds. The question is however … can you resist the temptation of the wine’s current youthful allure!? (Total production 620 bottles)

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Postscript: I opened this bottle at fridge chilled temperature and tasted continuously over 4 hours without returning the bottle back to the fridge. The gradual release of additional flavours, sensations of concentration and an amplified salinity with a searing acidity were very impressive. In the same way a serious white Burgundy does not need to be returned to ice, this wine just unfurled continuously, and I encourage drinkers of this wine to serve it chilled but also to allow it to warm up a little so that it can fan its peacock tail!

The legend Continues – Tasting the New Release Revenge of the Crayfish 2020 Chenin Blanc…

Sakkie Mouton is the epitome of the classic West Coast maverick or perhaps the West Coast misfit to use his own words. But whatever descriptives you use to describe his unique brand of winemaking and marketing, there is no denying this young man’s incredible talent, passion and vision. Almost uniquely, despite his enviable and obvious rock star talents, he has never been too confident or arrogant to dismiss advice or unwilling to alter course in the name of producing the very best possible end product.

With his 2018 maiden release, I likened Sakkie’s unique talents to something I had not seen since Eben Sadie hit the South African wine scene properly in the early 2000s, at first with the Spice Route Winery and then subsequently with his own labels. Perhaps the real similarity lies in both being able to elicit something quite unique and magical from varieties and vineyards that so many before them had managed to produce merely average wines from. Who knows? The industry is lucky to have them both for sure!

“Get your Cray on… “

This new 2020 Crayfish edition was picked in two different passes through the vineyards before being fermented with wild yeast in used 228 litre barrels and aged on the gross lees for eight months. The wine was then bottled unfiltered and unfined with minimal intervention.

Revenge of the Crayfish Chenin Blanc 2020, WO Koekenaap, 13.5% Abv.

With two vintages under his belt, Sakkie Mouton must surely have a fairly watertight idea of what he is trying to create with his unique Chenin Blanc fruit sourced from his homeland vineyards of Koekenaap up the West Coast. While super youthful and fresh, this 2020 expression does indeed display an impressive clarity and composure with wonderfully pure aromatics of crunchy green apples, pear drops, bay leaves, dried green baking herbs, lime peel and of course the signature West Coast notes of oyster shell and maritime sea breeze salinity. On the palate, there is notable concentration and depth of zippy white citrus, savoury yellow orchard fruits and a briny rock salt salinity reminiscent of river pebbles washed in sea water. Never a wine to reveal all its secrets willingly, a little more coaxing in a big Zalto glass allows the wine to show hints of orange citrus peel, a lovely fresh tangy sweet / sour acidity and yet more layers of maritime intensity. This new release might not be quite as wild and rebellious as some of Sakkie’s previous releases, but it certainly shows a growing confidence, maturity of thought, and texturally, an intricacy and purity that makes this wine very much one of his most complete creations to date. Give this white one to two years in the cellar from release before opening and then enjoy over 12 to 15+ years. Congratulations Sakkie on another distinguished wine!

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Wines available in the UK on allocation from Vino SA and Handford Wines.

The Original West Coast Misfit – Tasting Sakkie Mouton’s Full On Misfit Blanc 2020…

Sakkie Mouton has become a bit of a cult figure ever since I reviewed his maiden vintage of Revenge of the Crayfish 2018 back in April 2019. The public response was indeed spectacular with the traffic to my review almost crashing my website on several occasions. But there’s nothing like a big entrance to build the pressure on ones shoulders and to ensure the mind is focused and ready to produce a second edition!

With the 2020 release of the Revenge of the Crayfish Mark 2, Sakkie proved that the 2018 wasn’t a fluke and that he was in control, had a plan, and was here to stay! The Rooigety (red tide) edition 2019 of the Crayfish has and continues to woo customers and critics alike. This lad can just do no wrong. With Chenin, Sakkie understands his local vineyards, his roots, his neighbourhood and what he wants to achieve with his wines.

But of course there is no holding a good man down and new projects and new wines were always on the cards. That brings us to the Full On Misfit Blanc. Off piste and esoteric for sure, it still amazingly captures the “Wes Kus” spirit and style with a glassy crystalline purity, coastal salinity and of course lovely freshness.

This is not a Crayfish style wine, but it deserves equal attention and most definitely a place in your cellar for Christmas!

Sakkie Mouton Family Wines Full On Misfit Blanc 2020, WO Western Cape, 12% Abv.

Ever so slightly eccentric but definitely esoteric, this new white blend from Sakkie Mouton is a bold mix of 56% Chenel (the Chenin Blanc / Ugni Blanc cross), 24% Colombard and 20% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from West Coast vineyards in Vredendal, Lutzville and Koekenaap. Initially on opening, the wine was a little tight and reticent, revealing more of the Colombard’s green apple and cream soda notes. But with a few hours to open up, the wine slowly starts to unfurl a much more animated expression of crunchy white peaches, white pepper, green pears, sea breeze and a subtle chalky minerality. On the palate the wine definitely shifts into fifth gear, revealing a mouth wateringly vibrant tangy acidity, waves of green apple zest, crunchy white peach, fresh pear puree and just the most subtle hint of tangerine peel. The mouthfeel is full, round, glycerol and confident showing an impressively fleshy weight and an appealing crystalline purity with perhaps a very faint grassy complexity on the long, intense finish. The Colombard DNA is clear to see in this wine but the dark horse that is the Chenel certainly marks the wine with its own unique fingerprint. I suspect that as the wine ages in bottle, the Sauvignon Blanc portion will slowly but surely start to assert its premium varietal character with a little more spicey gooseberry, cut grass and picante green citrus. A wine to drink on release but certainly worth hiding a few bottles away for 3 to 5+ years for further interest. A fine addition to the Sakkie Mouton Family Wines portfolio.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW )

Return of the Crayfish… The Revenge Continues – Tasting the New Release 2019 Revenge of the Crayfish Barrel Sample…

With only a third of 2020 ticked off on the calendar and a very uncertain next six months lying ahead, I thought that the 29th March would be the perfect moment to release my initial review for Sakkie Mouton’s second vintage of Revenge of the Crayfish Chenin Blanc. Happy Birthday Sakkie!

Sakkie and I met up in Stellenbosch in mid February to taste the second edition of this cult Chenin Blanc from Koekenaap near Vredendal, made from a 25 year old vineyard with fruit from the same site as the 2018 maiden vintage.

What a journey it has been. With the sell-out 2018 turning heads, blowing minds and agitating the bureaucrats, the anticipation (and pressure) on Sakkie surely grew every day as the 2019 harvest approached. But a valuable stint in Oregon from June to the end of November at Carlton Winemaker Studio winery undoubtedly added to Sakkies further winemaking experience and overall maturity. 

The 2019 vintage Chenin Blanc grapes were taken in a lot earlier than 2018 resulting in an acidity of 8.2 versus 7.2 for the 2018 grapes. 

Revenge of the Crayfish Chenin Blanc 2019, 12.5 Abv. (Barrel Sample)

While still super youthful and vibrant, this Chenin Blanc expresses itself as boldly and characterfully as the incredible maiden release 2018. There are beautiful notes of crystalline white peach, green melon draped in salty Parma ham, white citrus, hard fig and saline sea breeze notes. On the palate, the alka seltzer spritzy minerality comes to the fore, shining brightly and melting beautifully into a subtle leesy white granitic wet stone mineral austerity tempered by a plush mid palate richness of yellow orchard fruits, wet straw and a mouth watering tart linear line of acidity, finishing with the most incredible intensity and saline persistence. This wine will tighten up further in bottle, but I envisage this 2019 offering an incremental generosity, concentration and finely textured mouthfeel. I am smitten yet again!

(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Post Script – We finished off the tasting with three new unfinished components who’s end destinations are still undecided. An interesting but characterful 2020 Chenel from Vredendal, a 2020 Palomino from Lutzville and then an incredible, unusual, highly expressive Chenin Blanc from a vineyard in Vredendal planted in 1989. More exciting treats from talented Sakkie Mouton coming soon.

One Of The Most Exciting Talents Since Eben Sadie Hit The Wine Scene – Tasting Sakkie Mouton’s Revenge Of The Crayfish Chenin Blanc 2018…

I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to taste some of the world’s greatest wines on a daily basis. Occasionally I even get to sit down with some of these talented winemakers of said wines and drink a few bottle in a relaxed convivial environment. Which is why I often try and visit the premier winemaking college Elsenburg to share my experiences with the highly talented resident students. You just never know where and when these young stars are going to surface in the future landscape of the global wine industry.

Well, one of these ex-students has indeed just risen from the frothy surf of the commercial winemaking world of Stellenbosch. Hailing from Vredendal originally, Sakkie Mouton was born and bred up the west coast and went to school locally there before moving to Elsenburg college to study winemaking. Now aged 27, Sakkie graduated from Elsenburg in 2014. 

Sakkie Mouton, an exceptional raw young talent! The label gets its name from Sakkie’s passion for west coast crayfish diving.

While working at the Muratie winery for the past few years, Sakkie has become obsessed with making his own wines sourced from vineyards near his homelands of Vredendal. Finally his vision and dreams have met reality after making his maiden release white wine… which for me is one of the most profound Chenin Blancs produced in South Africa since Eben Sadie conjured up Skurfberg and Skerpioen in his old vine series.

Sourced from a single block from a grower based in Koekenaap, a small hamlet 20 to 25 kilometres north west of Vredendal up the west coast, the vines are already around 12 years old and just starting to come into their prime.

This single block was picked at 22 balling in order to show a clean, fresh, natural acidity with the grapes being destalked and destemmed before fermentation in barrel with natural yeasts for approximately three weeks. There was no skin contact. Post ferment, there was no racking and the wines were left on their gross lees for eight months with some batonage for the first two weeks. If there was any chance of reduction during fermentation, they performed a delistage into a fibreglass vats before returning the wine to barrel with its lees.

The wine was bottled directly from gross lees in barrel with only a 30 micron rough filtration. There was no cold or protein stabilisation. Bottled on the 10th November 2018. Only 370 bottles were produced.

Sakkie Mouton Family Wines, Revenge of the Crayfish 2018, WO Western Cape, 13.5 Abv.

Tasted initially from both a Burgundy bowl glass and a white Chablis style Riedel, the aromatics are markedly different as I expected but are fascinating nevertheless. The Burgundy Montrachet-style bowl emphasises the lifted primary fruit notes of green melon, waxy green apples and crunchy green quince. But it is only in the Chablis-style small bowl glass where the true depth and mineral focus is revealed. Wow, the tart yellow bruised orchard fruits notes are firmly grounded by the most incredible granitic minerality, wet river pebble umami nuances and a sublime crystalline purity that really starts to speak boldly on the palate. With impressive energy and tart vibrant acids, one is so captivated by the intensity of saline green apple, tart yellow plum, fynbos spice and again, more and more wet slate and river pebble minerality. A fascinating wine that is incredibly precise, you would be wrong to think this expression is just all about freshness and minerality because the textural glycerol weight of fruit speaks volumes about the precise wine making, the superb fruit quality and the intelligent and passionate winemaking behind this cuvée. If quality like this can be repeated, future greatness and fame seems very close within reach for young Sakkie. Drink from 2020 to 2040+

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

“Probably the most exciting new comer to the South African wine scene that I have tasted since Eben Sadie, Donovan Rall and Duncan Savage!” ~ Ian Naude, winemaker and owner at Naude Family Wines.