It’s fascinating to observe the intensifying rivalry between the various wards of Hemel-en-Aarde and Elgin as to which area makes the best Pinot Noir. Newton Johnson does two versions: the more premium Family Vineyards from own vineyards in the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and one from Elgin.
The 2011 vintage of Family Vineyards (R250 a bottle) rated 5 Stars in the 2013 edition of Platter’s but I’ve tended to find it a little insubstantial and certainly not as compelling as the excellent 2009 and 2010 vintages of this wine. The Elgin wine of the same vintage (R160), meanwhile, rated only 4 Stars in Platter’s but a bottle of the weekend was really impressive and though I didn’t taste it side by side with the Family Vineyards probably shades its supposedly more prestigious stablemate for me.
Fermentation was done with indigenous yeasts and the wine was matured for 12 months in custom-made barrels, 22% new, 36% second-flll, 27% third-fill and 15% fourth-fill.
It’s a wine which is clean and correct but hardly boring. Cherry and currant, some musky varietal perfume, a not unpleasant note of reduction, some subtle earthiness. The fruit is pure and concentrated, the acidity really snappy and the tannins suitably fine. Quite a few local producers are chancing their arm with Pinot but not the Newton Johnsons.