New releases from Newton Johnson, Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa
It was great to catch up with Gordon and Nadia Newton-Johnson to try through the latest releases from this well regarded Hemel-en-Aarde producer (for more details on them, see my extensive write up here).
‘The vineyards are now 15 years old and they are starting to make more sense on their own,’ says Gordy, explaining why they are now making more of the single vineyard wines. ‘Year on year as we taste them separately they make more sense.’
Also, in 2014, they took out a third of the vineyard because of virus. Having virus-free vines really helps if you are going for top quality, and there’s a lot of leafroll virus around in South Africa.
This was a stunning line-up.
Newton Johnson Albariño 2017 Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley, South Africa
13.5% alcohol. This is from a quarter hectare of the variety. This could be a very interesting variety for the Hemel en Aarde. From 2018 there’s another vineyard coming in. Lovely texture here, with a nice stoniness. 70% concrete egg (even after 9 months the wine was still cloudy, so there’s lots of lees contact here) and an old barrel. So textural and finely spiced with some white peach and citrus fruit. There’s a hint of marmalade too. Very finely textured. A convincing Albariño. 93/100
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2016 Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley, South Africa
A warm year. Subtly mealy with nice spiciness. Lovely taut citrus fruit with a bit of white peach. Really vivid with nice acidity. Tightwound and complex with citrus and pineapple, and well integrated oak. Real finesse here. 94/100
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2016 Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley, South Africa
Really fresh and supple with bright raspberry and red cherry fruit. Great acidity supporting the gently leafy red fruits. Really detailed and fresh, with nice sweet fruit. There’s a nice spiciness adding some savoury complexity. Lots of potential here, with some grip on the finish. 94/100
Newton Johnson Seadragon Pinot Noir 2016 Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley, South Africa
There’s some iron-rich clay, under a metre of broken up granite. 20% whole bunch. This is really interesting: sappy and bright with a bit of grip to the red berry and cherry fruit. Crunchy fruit with a fine spiciness. This has a lovely savouriness under the sweet fruit. Really detailed and expressive. Such supple tannins. 95/100
Newton Johnson Cape Winemakers Guild Windandsea Pinot Noir 2016 Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley, South Africa
Picked for this cuvee, looking for healthy grapes and ripeness. Bunch selection. Two barrels made, one new. 40% whole bunch. Lifted aromatic red cherry fruit nose. Supple and fine on the palate with some savoury non-fruit complexity. Chunky tannins with a subtle sappiness on the finish. This is a distinctive wine with a savoury personality, and lots of potential. 94/100
Newton Johnson Windandsea Pinot Noir 2016 Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley, South Africa
Very lively with a bright sappiness and lovely crunch red berry fruits. Supple and refined with good structure. Juicy and refined with a bit of bite, and nice tannin structure. Really fresh and well balanced with nice focus. Elegant and supple. This is a delicious, elegant expression of Pinot. 94/100
Newton Johnson Granum 2015 Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley, South Africa
From the bottom of the farm with the rockiest soils. 75% Syrah and 25% Mourvedre. Lively, bright and peppery with some sweet black cherry fruit and fresh, fine, grippy cola and pepper notes, with a hint of clove. Distinctive, bright and primary with potential for development. Zippy and expressive. Subtle green notes here, too, with olive and dried meats. 93/100