The Old Vine Colombard Movement Gathers Pace – Tasting the Exciting Maiden Release of Sakkie Mouton’s Old Vine Vloedvlak Colombard 2022…

Sakkie Mouton is undoubtedly one of the Cape wine industries bright young talents. But he has come a long way in a very short period of time since the first solo release of his Revenge of the Crayfish Chenin Blanc 2018, which has since been joined by his delicious Full On Misfit White Blend, the Sand Erf Vermentino and now his newest addition, the Vloedvlak Colombard. Despite this growing selection of wines, soon to be joined by an accomplished red Syrah, Sakkie’s wines remain impossibly difficult to track down and buy, seemingly selling out before they are even released! But considering the excitement surrounding his winemaking style and wine quality, the scarcity is hardly unexpected.

The new Vloedvlak 2022 is a 100% Colombard white wine made from Old Vine vineyards planted in 1978 by Mr Karel Voigt’s father on the farm Dwarsdeur located 35 kilometres from the cold Atlantic Ocean, just outside the small town of Vredendal on the West Coast of South Africa. The name Vloedvlak is Afrikaans for Flood Level, being a tribute to the old irrigation methods still in use today where whole vineyards are flooded until they reach their ‘Vloedvlak.’

Grapes were picked early in the morning to preserve freshness, then cooled down before being crushed early the following day. Grapes were destemmed and crushed into an old basket press without the addition of any enzymes, then left overnight to settle in a stainless steel tank, before being racked to another stainless steel tank for natural fermentation to commence. Fermentation started after two days and lasted for about one month with the temperature at fermentation kept at 14⁰C to preserve fruit and purity.

Flood irrigation in the vineyards.
Old Vine Colombard planted in 1978.

After fermentation, the wine was racked into 500 litre barrels for ageing on its gross lees. Aging in barrel lasted four months with regular stirring of the lees. The wine was finally bottled unfined and unfiltered with a small addition of sulphur. This new release carries a Wine of Origin Olifantsriver designation being sourced from Old Vine vineyards planted on sandy silty soils next to the banks of the Olifantsriver. Cold nights and warm days along with the traditionally cooler silty soils gave the grapes a longer natural ripening period.

Sakkie Mouton Family Wines Vloedvlak Old Vine Colombar 2022, WO Olifantsriver, 11.68% Abv.

This new addition to the ranks of the Old Vine Colombard movement is another striking example of what is possible with this once ‘work horse’ variety. Super young and packed full of primary aromatics, this wine will evolve and unfurl its full complex offering over the coming years. In its vibrant youth the nose resonates with embryonic notes of dusty perfumed talc, lime peel, crunchy white peaches, pear drop, honeydew melon rock candy, West Coast maritime sea breeze, Nori seaweed and subtle hints of dried green herbs and fynbos. The palate is tantalisingly taut and linear with a concertina’d concentration of sour yellow plum, savoury brine, white peach, tangy yellow apple and layer upon layer of salty, tangy acidity. Razor sharp and brilliantly crisp now, this wine will start to round out and put on additional leesy glycerol mid-palate weight with another 3 to 6 months in bottle. While there are already a few stunning examples of Old Vine Colombard on the market now, Sakkie Mouton once again succeeds in expressing his own unique winemaking genius with a wine that boasts a classic West Coast terroir character. Snap this rarity up on release but pop a few bottles in your cellar for at least two to three years before revisiting.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Recommended Retail Price expected to be circa £27 to £29 per bottle inc.

Revisiting a Ground-breaking Cape White Wine – Tasting the Naude Family Wines Langpad 2021 Old Vine Colombard…

The sun may be shining here in London but there is most certainly a crisp Autumnal note in the air as another phenomenally warm and sunny summer across Europe starts to fade into a mere memory. And what a summer it was! But Autumn for me is always a time of reflection and when it comes to fine wine, there were certainly a few splendid examples that have helped define the past year. One of these important wines was undoubtedly the second release of the Langpad Colombard from Old Vine maestro Ian Naude.

Almost everything Ian does seems to be ground-breaking, whether it was championing Old Vine Cinsault, helping with the Cape revival of Old Vine Semillon or redefining elegance and finesse in Provencal-style Grenache. So many producers follow in Ian’s footsteps that it sometimes becomes hard to even remember where all the excitement started. With Ian Naude’s Old Vine Langpad Colombard 2020, South Africa witnessed the birth of the first boutique production Old Vine Certified heritage wine from this traditional ‘work horse’ variety. Which is probably a good time to remind readers that South Africa also had another under appreciated work horse variety a few years ago – Chenin Blanc – which is now regarded as one of South Africa’s Grand Cru white offerings.

As I look ahead to visiting the Cape again in October 2022, I can confidently look back at my recent visit there in March when I met up with Ian Naude and tasted his new 2022 Langpad Colombard from tank before bottling. Another riveting example that is sure to continue in the footsteps of the maiden 2020 and the phenomenal 2021, which was awarded 5 Stars in the Platter’s South African Wine Guide and also, more importantly, Platter’s Wine of the Year.

I tasted and reviewed the 2021 almost a year ago, and after hearing that it was now sold out in South Africa, with the last remaining stocks heading to the thirsty UK market, it seemed the perfect time to retaste this benchmark white wine again and sing its praises for any wine collectors and connoisseurs that have not discovered its joys yet.

Naude Family Wines Old Vines Langpad Colombard 2021, WO Western Cape, 12% Abv.

1.3 g/l RS | 6.1 g/l TA | 3.3 pH

This second vintage of Naude’s Old Vine Colombard is certainly something very special. The aromatics are lifted and expressive with rich intense notes of green apple pastille, white peaches, green pear, dried herbs, sea breeze and a seductive rich seam of crushed stone minerality. On the palate there is even more concentration and mouth coating flavour intensity than maiden 2020 with enchanting layers of crunchy white peach, seductive hints of ripe guava, pear, green mango and an underlying basaltic stony minerality that combines with a pronounced maritime rock salt character and a tangy, bright acid freshness. After over a year in bottle, the wine has shed the subtle rock candy and cream soda puppy fat hints and swopped these for additional layers of salinity, minerality and mouth-watering fruit purity. Often regaled as reminding drinkers of premium Assyrtiko from Santorini, with time in bottle the similarities simply become more and more pronounced. But whatever comparisons are made, this wine never loses its crystalline Cape West Coast maritime terroir nuances that help make it so distinct and so utterly delicious. Enjoy its complexity now or fill your cellar for drinking over the next 3 to 5+ years.

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

Last allocations of this wine are available in the UK and EU from Museum Wines for £29.99pb.

https://www.museumwines.co.uk/product/naude-wines-langpad-colombard-vredendal-south-africa-2021/

Naude Family Wines Releases the Follow-up Vintage of the Ground-Breaking Langpad Old Vine Colombard 2021…

Sometimes, consumer trends are set by the new kids on the block… like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. But when you learn that varieties like Colombard have been planted in the Cape since the early 1700’s, you realise that maybe we should all be taking another look at the potential of some of these latter-day unsung hero varieties. This is exactly what Ian Naude has been doing with a wonderful old vine Colombard vineyard planted in the Vredendal area in 1983.

Grown on soils that are almost 100% sand where flood irrigation is still the order of the day, the grapes were picked into small crates and then whole bunch pressed before undergoing natural fermentation after around three days maceration. Thereafter, the wine was kept on its fine lees for as long as possible to develop extra aromatic and textural complexity before being bottled as naturally as possible.

Picking up the reins of an established variety is one thing, but doing so with a complete outsider grape that has hardly ever been considered good enough for anything other than brandy distillation is another. Yet again, the maverick old vine innovator Ian Naude has struck a rich seam of vinous gold with his mouth-watering Langpad Colomard.

Naude Family Wines Old Vines Langpad Colombard 2021, WO Western Cape, 12% Abv.

1.3 g/l RS | 6.1 g/l TA | 3.3 pH

This second vintage of Naude’s old vine Colombard is something very special. Whether it’s all down to vintage quality or Ian’s swift mastering of this new grape in his repertoire I don’t know. The aromatics are positively explosive with rich intense notes of green apple pastille, crunchy white peaches, pear puree, dried herbs, wet hay and a seductive rich seam of cream soda. On the palate, there seems to be even more concentration and flavour intensity than the impressive maiden 2020 with these happy old vines spinning their spellbinding magic and delivering a wine with layer upon layer of enchanting peachy fruit, seductive hints of ripe guava, pear, quince and an underlying basaltic stony minerality that combines with a pronounced maritime salinity and a bright tart freshness. It is perhaps the almost volcanic feel to the minerality that makes many fans suggest that this wine reminds them of an old vine Assyrtiko wine from the Greek island of Santorini. Cool, crystalline and intense, this pristine white leaves little to the imagination and smothers the senses in pure, crystalline West Coast pleasure. Drink now on release or age for 5 to 8+ years.

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

Wines available in the UK from Museum Wines, Handford Wines and Vino SA.

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!

Wine Safari New Release Notes – Tasting the Ground Breaking Naude Old Vine Series Colombard 2020…

Always at the cutting edge of winemaking and experimentation, whether it’s perfecting the Cape white blend or the use of old vines, if Ian Naude puts his mind and efforts into a new project, rest assured the results will be spectacular.

Previously inspired by not only the renaissance of Cinsault in South Africa but also more latterly, the reinvention of Cape Heritage Blends using Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon, Ian has now turned his expertise back to white wine and old vines. His newest creation is the first premium old vine certified Colombard white wine to be bottled in South Africa from a majestically beautiful old vineyard hidden away up the Cape West Coast near Vredendal.

Old Vine Colombard planted in 1985

Made from vines planted in 1985, this old vine bottling of Colombard represents the beginning of new era for South African white wines where previously less lauded varieties are highlighted for their excellent potential.

Tasting the old vine Colombard from tank with Ian Naude earlier in the year pre-lockdown.

So if you are a fan of more alternative varieties like Semillon, Verdelho, Grenache Blanc, Assyrtiko and Albariño… this new old vine release from Naude Family Wines is going to bowl you over. (But act quickly as quantities produced are tiny.)

Langpad 2020 (long road) – The very first “old vine certified” Colombard produced in South Africa.

Naude Family Wines Old Vines Langpad Colombard 2020, WO Western Cape, 12.5 Abv.

This fabulous white has all the seduction and appeal you could possibly want from an old vine expression showing amplified aromatics of crunchy white peaches, green apple pastille, cream soda nuances, grated limes, crushed tangerine peels and a dusty, granitic liquid minerality. On the palate, Ian Naude has managed to coax out the most regal of the old vine Colombard characteristics, revealing an impressively linear, taut mid-palate texture, crisp crystalline green fruit notes and a clarity as pure as freshly driven snow. With just enough glycerol weight and acid effervescence, this wine will not only make the perfect stand alone aperitif white but will also be a champion food matching partner with its pronounced pithy, piquant, subtly bitter lemon finish and its classic Cape West Coast bite of sea salt on the long, briney, granadilla and guava tinged finish. This wine is the taste of excitement, long hot balmy carefree summers that you don’t want to end and chilled fresh Bellini cocktails on a Cape West Coast beach. A truly evocative wine. Drink from release or cellar comfortably for 3 to 8+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 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.