Newton Johnson new releases

By , 19 October 2023

The Newton Johnson label may date from 1997 but the first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir bottlings entirely from their own Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley fruit only came in 2008, a reminder that the modern fine wine project in South Africa is remarkably young.

On a recent visit, managing director Bevan Newton Johnson and wnemaking brother Gordon showed various older vintages but declined to pour anything further back than 2012. “We aren’t embarrassed by those older vintages but it’s only from 2012 that we feel we started getting wines illustrative of what this property is truly capable of,” says Bevan.

It was an insightful tasting in the sense of a refinement of approach over time was obvious. Combine favourable vintage conditions and this cellar is capable of some of the best examples of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the country, the Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2017 and the Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2019 being two of the finest local examples of these two varieties I’ve tasted in recent times (both rated 97 points).

The Newton Johnsons are positive about the 2022 vintage, the heatwaves that affected other areas just before harvest less of an issue here. Tasting notes and ratings as follows:

Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2022
Price: R490
Grapes from three blocks, two north-facing and one south-facing. Matured for 11 months in 228- and 500-litre barrels, 25% new. Aromatics are still very primary with notes of citrus, oatmeal, a hint of vanilla and some flinty reduction. The palate is intense but not overly weighty – extra-concentrated fruit and scintillating acidity before a savoury finish. Pure, energetic and beautifully poised, this is years off drinking at its best. Alc: 13%.

CE’s rating: 96/100.

Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2022
Price: R590
Grapes from multiple blocks on the farm, each with a slightly different soil structure but essentially granite based. Limited whole-bunch fermentation. Matured for 11 months in 228-litre barrels, 29% new.

Exotic aromatics of red and black berries, orange, earth and a touch of reduction. Impressive depth of fruit, bright acidity and fine-grained, tight-knit tannins. Rich but balanced, this is Pinot at its most seductive. Alc: 14%.

CE’s rating: 94/100.

Newton Johnson Seadragon Pinot Noir 2022
Price: R800
From the oldest vineyard on the property planted in 2003, the soil being granite on clay. The nose shows cherry, cranberry and strawberry, some floral perfume, vanilla and flinty reduction. The palate is medium bodied with bright acidity and fine tannins. Elegant, balanced and dry. Alc: 13.5%.

CE’s rating: 93/100.

Newton Johnson Windansea Pinot Noir 2022
Price: R800
From a vineyard featuring heavy clay, the resulting berries having thicker skins. Red and black cherry, earth and spice on the nose while the palate has excellent fruit density, punchy acidity and admirably ripe fruit tannins. A wine of both breadth and depth – succulent fruit upfront, the finish decidedly long and dry. Alc: 13.5%.

CE’s rating: 95/100.

Check out our South African wine ratings database.


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