Platter’s 2018 over Newton Johnson Vineyards

Newton Johnson Vineyards CWG Auction Reserve Seadragon Pinot Noir 2015 (95 pts)
Founder Dave Johnson, vintners Gordon & Nadia Newton Johnson & vine man Dean Leppan followed a narrow contour of broken claystone in the granite soil to pick perfect bunches early one morning, for no-sulphur ‘free rein’ vinification. Resulting 2015 debut Auction wine is profound, powerful, astounding. 650 bottles.
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Newton Johnson Vineyards CWG Auction Reserve Windansea Pinot Noir 2016 (94 pts)
For a masterclass in pinot noir, taste the 6 across these ranges – true terroir at work. Everything is there in elegant, fragrant & complex 2016 from single ‘powerhouse vineyard’, but it’s how different aspects reveal themselves in the glass over time that’s so riveting.
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Newton Johnson Vineyards Pinot Noir 2016 (94 pts)
A selection of the farm’s sites, each contributing to the final blend. Remarkable 5-star track record, last was 2015. 2016 () minusculely less fine; red berries & graphite with forest floor nuances, perfect fruit/oak balance. Sleekly powerful, admirable poise, assurance.
Newton Johnson Vineyards Seadragon Pinot Noir 2016 (94 pts)
Renamed ‘Block 6’. Oldest pinot noir block on the farm & richest-fruit wine of the line-up. 2016 remains remarkably elegant, however, & succulent, with supple tannins. The power is latent, what pinot noir does best: ‘an iron fist in a velvet glove’.
Newton Johnson Vineyards Mrs. M Pinot Noir 2016 (93 pts)
Single vineyard, dedicated to Moya McDowall. 2016 the most fragrant, delicate & silky of the range, thanks to well-drained granite soil. Bright red fruit, violets, spice & minerality interplay adding complexity. Unfined, unfiltered, as rest.
Newton Johnson Vineyards Chardonnay 2016 (93 pts)
From 3 farm vineyards, thus multifaceted. 2016 () well oak-spiced (24% new), a citrus array including rind; zesty-fresh, lithe & powerful, yet never boastful. There’s deep muscle tone, great ageing potential. Follows stellar 2015.
Newton Johnson Vineyards Granum 2015 (92 pts)
Cellar as adept with Rhône varieties on iron-rich granite (hence the name) as with Burgundy grapes. Shiraz-led, 25% mourvèdre, 2015 has earthy, slate tones, fynbos, enough dark fruit to balance the grape/oak tannins. Individual, distinctive.
Newton Johnson Vineyards Windansea Pinot Noir 2016 (92 pts)
Single vineyard’s high elevation & clay soils contribute to 2016’s sinewy structure, enough fruit to balance but needs time in the bottle & glass. Complex layers of earth, minerals, oak’s savoury spicing. Name precisely captures the site.
Newton Johnson Vineyards Resonance 2016 (92 pts)
Area’s cool-climate mountain & maritime character reflects in 2016: minerality at core, a zinging freshness & elegance providing vitality, length. Blend sauvignon (75%), new-barrel semillon, the latter more expressive in the flavours. Walker Bay WO.
Newton Johnson Vineyards Southend Chardonnay 2016 (89 pts)
Mountain slope single vineyard, high-toned 2016’s combo tank/barrels/’eggs’ to highlight fruit, reflect terroir. Citrus, especially lime, bright acidity, complex floral & fruit nuances.
Newton Johnson Vineyards Full Stop Rock 2015 (89 pts)
Named for jagged vineyard landscape. Syrah (80%) with grenache, mourvèdre, 2015 dark-toned & luscious fruit & spice mix, ends appealingly fresh, firm textured. WO Cape South Coast, like Sauvignon.
Newton Johnson Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (88 pts)
Citrus-themed, but it’s 2017’s array that impresses, grapefruit, lemon, lime, mixed blossoms. Tiny bit oaked semillon adds texture without affecting palate minerality, extended finish.
Newton Johnson Vineyards Walker Bay Pinot Noir 2015 (87 pts)
From younger, lower-elevation vineyards but 2015 in no way disadvantaged; textbook pinot noir in its raspberry exuberance, forest floor nuances, lithe elegance; oaking well judged (just 10% new).
Newton Johnson Vineyards
By SA standards, this is a young Hemel-en-Aarde family business, but it has an astonishing track record. Founded by Dave Johnson and Felicity (née Newton) in the mid-1990s, their sons now run things, Bevan as marketer and Gordon as winemaker with wife Nadia. Their specialisation is pinot noir, with six in this edition, each individual and widely lauded. This is made possible by in-depth understanding of the potential of vineyard sites, and then respecting those nuances in cellar handling. That they have a cellar designed to handle wines as naturally as possible, and take it further by natural fermentation, no fining, filtration, plays a big part in the purity of the wines. There are no ambitious future plans, just fine-tuning, like getting reflected rather than direct sunlight in the vineyards, especially important in the warmer, drought conditions.