Sakkie Mouton: Discovering the Cape’s West Coast’s Exciting New Wine Producer

By | 5 June 2024


Sakkie Mouton was raised on the west coast of the Cape in Vredendal. He mentions, ‘I attended school in that area and it wasn’t until my studies at Elsenberg that I left.’ He adds, ‘However, becoming a musician was my initial dream.’

Music remains a significant part of his life, though not professionally. He enjoys playing the guitar and harmonica. ‘Originally, I aimed to pursue sound engineering, but my father, a farmer, had other views,’ he explains. To compromise, his father proposed Sakkie study agriculture first to potentially continue the family business, allowing him to follow his musical aspirations thereafter.

Hence, Sakkie enrolled at Elsenberg, an agricultural college. There, observing the winemaking students—distinct with their long hair and air of coolness—he felt a connection. ‘It struck a chord with me,’ he states. ‘I saw the opportunity to craft something unique, treating the vineyards as my canvas.'</or

After graduating, he embarked on a five-year journey across various countries, participating in harvests. His journey took him to the USA, where he worked twice in Dry Creek, Germany at Weingut Kopp in Baden, France at Le Grappin in Bourgogne, and New Zealand at Babich in Marlborough. He served as an assistant winemaker at Orange River Cellars before moving to Muratie, where he produced his initial vintage of Revenge of the Crayfish.

Originating from a region prevalent with cooperative wineries, he chose to establish his vineyard there. He discovered an ideal vineyard through his father’s friend, located in a secluded, rugged terrain with sandy soils and planted with Chenin. Amid the saturation of Chenin wines, he sought a unique branding approach; inspired by 1950s horror movie posters, and intertwined with local crayfish diving culture, he conceptualized a label that creatively omits the mention of Chenin.

In 2019, Sakkie left Muratie to join a winemaking stint in Oregon, focusing on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for five months, returning with 90,000 Rand to start his winery. He collaborated with a west coast winery, Fryers Cove, agreeing to produce his wine there while also crafting theirs. However, after DGB acquired Fryers Cove 10 months later unexpectedly, he departed with six barrels of his 2020 vintage. Subsequently, he relocated these barrels to Cape Town Wine Hub in Somerset West to commence bottling.

In 2021, he began leasing an old winery in Wellington at a cost of 7000 rand per month. The facilities were basic, featuring only some stainless steel tanks and a non-functional cooling system. That year, all the wines were foot stomped using a basket press. Afterward, he transitioned to renting space at the Riebeek Cellars in Riebeek Kasteel, where the vintages of 2022, 2023, and 2024 were produced. With only one press available for 14 clients, advanced booking was essential.

He also started integrating his musical interests by creating music videos for each of his wine labels, particularly helping to promote varieties like Vermentino.

Initially, sourcing grapes was challenging, despite his local connections. The vineyards were poorly maintained and primarily supplied to cooperatives. He has since begun leasing and farming these vineyards, opting to pay per ton. Local growers who previously garnered 2400 Rand per ton from cooperatives had to yield 45 tonnes per hectare to be profitable. In contrast, he targets a more sustainable 4 tonnes per hectare by selecting older, less productive vineyards and compensates 7000 rand per ton, paying in four months instead of the typical 18.

He places a strong emphasis on introducing new grape varieties to the region. VinPro assists by providing farmers with 200 to 400 vines of proposed new varieties, and cooperatives are conducting trials. Currently, 14 different varieties are being cultivated on the west coast, including Assyrtiko, Piquepoul, Lledoner Pelut, and Agiorgitiko. His particular interest in Vermentino has facilitated his access to these vines.

Sakkie Mouton Vloedvlak Colombar 2023 Olifantsriver, South Africa
11% alcohol. Unfortunately, this vineyard experienced flooding this year (in 2024), but it is resilient, normally irrigated by flooding as well. The label showcases an image of the vineyard underwater. This vineyard, established in 1978 and positioned adjacent to the Olifantsriver, has silty soil composition. The grapes were whole bunch pressed, partly fermented in stainless steel and partly in barrels, using natural yeasts. This wine is robust, crisp, and possesses a salty sharpness, complementing the vibrant pear and lemon flavors. Fermentation excluded malolactic processes, allowing a sharp acidic backbone, and it concludes with a bright, prolonged, and salty finish. It is an exquisite wine, scoring 95/100.

Sakkie Mouton Sand Erf Vermentino 2023 Koekenaap, South Africa
11.5% alcohol. Sourced from a vineyard near the Crayfish vineyard, approximately 15 km from the coastline, this lot has 400 Vermentino vines. The wine underwent wild fermentation in two 300-liter barrels with slight temperature control and remained on its gross lees for 5 months before being bottled without fining or filtration. The label captures a moment of him on an ox with his grandfather. Planted in 2017, the wine features round citrus and apple notes. The sandy soil imparts a direct, light yet intense floral and fruity profile, supported by a crisp acidity and subtle green pea flavors mingled with salinity. Notable for its precision, it rates 94/100.

Sakkie Mouton Revenge of the Crayfish 2023 Koekenaap, South Africa
13.5% alcohol. Situated 10 km from the sea, this region benefits from cool morning mists and hot afternoons, followed by cool nights around 10C even on hot days. Initially opting for early harvests, gradual adjustments to a slightly later schedule have proven effective, allowing for robust flavor development. The vineyard, with its sandy soils, utilizes new pruning techniques for robust shoots and reduced yield, bearing only one bunch per shoot. Comprised of Chenin Blanc, the vinification involves 50% older 500-liter barrels and 50% stainless steel, maturing for 9 months on lees. This cool vintage wine offers a texturnal burst of bright lemon and green apple, seasoned with subtle creaminess, vibrant energy, and salinity. Marked by its uniqueness in Chenin Blanc expressions, it scores 94/100.

Sakkie Mouton Dawn of the Salty Tongues Rouge 2022 Olifantsriver, South Africa
13% alcohol. The name playfully alludes to frequent cursing and the wine’s inherent saltiness. Produced from Syrah grown on their once neglected and derelict vineyard, originating from 1999. This wine, crafted with 30% whole-cluster inclusion and thrice-daily pump-overs, follows after three initial vintages were discarded for not meeting standards, marking this as its debut. It exudes an inviting aroma edged with creaminess overlying cherry and raspberry notes. Its profile is fresh, refined, and pure, lightly extracted and exhibiting finesse along with a saline-like twist and subtle hints of cured meat. An exciting release, it rates 95/100.

UK agent: Woodwinters

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