This is our best vintage of Nautical Dawn so far, further confirming just how good this part of Stellenbosch is. The parcel was planted on the shallow granite soil of the upper slope of Sinai Hill in Firgrove, right on the False Bay coast of Stellenbosch. The hillside is breezy, with spectacular views of the sea and Hangklip in the distance. As always, the is is an athlete. Clear yellow fruit and sweet herbs, endless flavour, unreal tension and energy on the palate, coated acidity. This is the kind of wine that does well in blind tastings – a bit of a showoff.
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Nautical Dawn is made from two parcels that we think display the nature of False Bay Chenin very well: The 1978 bushvine planting on Rustenhof at 60m above sea-level, 4kms from the bay and the 1988 planting on Karibib farm at 220m above sea-level, 13kms from the bay. Both plots are dry farmed, both grow on granite, both face south east, peering out over the bay toward Kaap Hangklip.
On Rustenhof there’s a small granite hill called Sinai. This hill is virtually completely covered with bushvine Chenin Blanc. The crown of the hill has a few small granite domes protruding from the soil. From up there you can see the waves breaking on a clear day. Our part of the vineyard is on the upper mid-slope of the hill, planted with the contour.
This is our earliest ripening vineyard and plays the anchor role in Nautical Dawn. It produces a wine with quite an extreme nature and strong personality. Even with early picking this vineyard delivers huge flavour. Intense concentration, and full throttle natural acid make this a wine that seems gifted in all directions. Simultaneously a star athlete, musical prodigy and academic wunderkind.
Karibib shows a bit more grace, and perhaps some more earthy elements, lending detail and finesse to the wine.