On Rustenhof farm in Firgrove (southern Stellenbosch) there’s a small granite hill called Sinai. The crown of the hill has a few small granite domes protruding from the soil. From up there you can see the waves breaking only 4kms away. The hillside is planted from top to bottom with dry farmed bushvine Chenin Blanc. Nautical Dawn is made from a parcel planted in 1978 on the upper part of the slope. The vine rows run with the contour of the hill. The granite soil is shallow and warms quickly, causing this to be one of our earliest picks of the season, despite the relentless South-East wind.
100% Chenin Blanc (Bushvines)
|Wine of origin||Stellenbosch|
|Production||4704 bottles and 150 magnums|
|Bottling||May 23 2023|
Winemaking and Maturation
The grapes were hand sorted and whole bunch pressed. The juice is very lightly settled (we like very cloudy raw juice) with no additions to the raw juice, wild fermentation took place in a 2000L Foudre and some old barrels of various sizes. Fermentation lasted for about two months. The wine was kept on lees for around 12 months, then rested in tank on fine lees without fining for a further six months prior to bottling. Very simple, careful winemaking.
This is an outstanding vintage of Nautical Dawn, loaded with salty yellow fruit and sweet herbs. I often say that this wine reflects the tension of the elements where it grows: the mellow glow of Stellenbosch sunshine and the cold slap of the salty Southeaster. The nose shows sour yellow fruit, sweet melon, and a touch of fennel. The pallet is very energetic and intense this year, full of flavour, very long finish.