14 Sep Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Alheit Vineyards “Nautical Dawn” Chenin Blanc 2020, W.O. Stellenbosch, South Africa
If you love the aromas of Sauvignon Blanc, the body and texture of Chardonnay, and/or the acidity and freshness of Pinot Grigio, then Chenin Blanc is the wine that will hit the spot. And, more specifically, the Alheit Vineyards “Nautical Dawn” 2020 Chenin Blanc from South Africa. This wine has it all and is the Please The Palate wine of the week.
While Chenin Blanc originates in the Loire Valley, it is the most widely planted wine grape variety in South Africa. It is a grape that can acclimate to various conditions from cool climates to warmer areas. And it is a grape that expresses terroir. And in South Africa, there are Chenin Blanc vineyards that are more than 100 years old.
Alheit Vineyards is a family business started in 2010 by husband and wife team Chris and Suzaan Alheit. They purchased their Hemelrand farm in Stellenbosch with the goal of making wines that express a sense of place. They put a lot of attention to the farming of their own farm, Broom Ridge, on the Paardeberg, as well as other growers they closely work with. They take a minimal intervention approach. They use gentle whole cluster pressing and wild fermentation in cement eggs, clay pots, foudres, or old barrels. There are no additions, no yeasts, no enzymes, no acidification, no sulphur before ferment, no blocking malo, no new barrels, no fining.
The Nautical Dawn comes from a parcel of thick, old bush vines planted in 1978 on the upper part of the slope of the Rustenhof farm in Firgrove in southern Stellenbosch. The grapes were hand sorted and whole bunch pressed. The juice is very lightly settled and two-month wild fermentation took place in two 2000L foudres. The wine was kept on lees for around twelve months, then rested in tank on fine lees without fining for a further six months prior to bottling.
The wine has a beautiful nose of lemon, pineapple, minerality, and a touch of beeswax. On the palate, the full-bodied wine has acidity, texture, and freshness. It is everything you want in a white wine. This is a gorgeous wine that retails for $46-$54 and will please most palates.