With Greg Sherwood MW having just released his glowing review of Revenge of the Crayfish, now might be an opportune time to meet the man behind the wine.
It was the 8th of February 2019, and Izak “Sakkie” Mouton was all over the place. In the middle of harvest as the assistant winemaker at Muratie, he raced through to Cape Town with a bottle of his own Revenge of the Crayfish Chenin Blanc 2018.
Sakkie looked a little rattled. He'd been working harvest hours and needed to be back for punch downs in the afternoon. The following morning he was driving an old bakkie to Koekenaap to pick his 2019 vintage. But for now, here he was at the Wild Fig, pouring his labour of love.
Let’s pause at Koekenaap, quickly. It’s a small town quite far up the West Coast. Too far to produce great wine, surely?
“Well, it’s actually pretty amazing." Sakkie says "I was born in Vredendal, and Koekenaap is just down the road. It’s about 20km from the Ocean, in the Olifants River Valley. It gets the cool West Coast Ocean breeze and has plenty of water. Great soils and a brilliant climate. It’s an undiscovered gem.”
And his wine: absolutely incredible. Bright, crisp and focused, it’s so very different from most South African Chenin Blancs, the cool climate and relatively early pick giving the wine great purity and acidity. The finish lasts forever. And the amount of love and attention that's gone into making this wine shines through. Sakkie has painstakingly destalked each grape by hand, gently crushed them in an old basket press and made a wine that defies varietal classification. This is a West Coast wine. A Crayfish wine. And I haven’t tasted anything quite like it before.
While we were reaching for superlatives to describe Revenge of the Crayfish, Dave Nel from Publik climbed on his phone and sent a message to one Kobus van der Merwe, chef and owner at Wolfgat, the Best Restaurant in the World:
“I might have a new wine for you”
Wolfgat is all about provenance and location. Sourcing local products and treating them with great respect. Paternoster is not far from Koekenaap. Dave immediately made the connection, and while Kobus has yet to taste the wine, after hearing of it’s origin and seeing the label, he was keen. I can only wish him good luck in securing a few of the 350-odd available bottles.
Things are moving quickly for this young winemaker from Vredendal. With his contacts in the area, he managed to gain access to a 12-year old Chenin vineyard. He made only a single barrel. Demand is already off the charts. Revenge Volume Two is busy doing its thing in the cellar, while on the cards for next year, there is a Chenel (google it – there are only about 30 hectares planted in the country) from which Sakkie will make an Orange wine, and a Pinot Noir.
A Pinot. From Koekenaap. Wild.
With experience working harvests at home and abroad, Sakkie already has a remarkable confidence in his work. Like many of the young guys and girls making wine in this country, he has been learning voraciously on his travels. He’s not afraid to experiment. He’s not afraid of heat. Not afraid of a cool climate. He’s not too concerned about oxygen. He has a reverence for Burgundy that shines through in his wine, and as I believe Greg rightly predicts, good things are just around the corner.
**If you are looking to get your hands on some 2018 Kreef, good luck. I can make no guarantees, because much like the fishing season for the West Coast Crayfish, there are availability issues and hence some serious restrictions in place. If you’re interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let Sakkie know. He will do his best to accommodate, but you might have to wait until next year. I suggest you put in your orders now.