Newton Johnson Windansea Pinot Noir 2018

By , 9 April 2020



Got gears.

Pinot Noir, as we all know, is capricious to grow and often confounding to taste but when everything comes together for good, it is capable of truly spell-binding wine. The Windansea 2018 from Newton Johnson in the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is among the very best that I have tasted from South Africa.

Grapes from a single high-lying vineyard on mostly clay soil, the nose initially shows dark cherry, earth, spice and even a slight meatiness but later also reveals rose and more red fruit. The palate has great depth, bright acidity and fine tannins, the finish long and savoury. Really impressive structure, drive and balance – whereas local Pinot is sometimes a little two-dimensional, this is properly complex. Approximate retail price: R550 a bottle.

CE’s rating: 95/100.

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12 comment(s)

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    Tony Carroll | 27 April 2020

    I have long enjoyed Newton Johnson wines. NJ pinot noir is served at the Harvard Club in New York and it has always been well received (and well priced). I look forward to trying the Windansea on my next post COVID-19 visit to SA. Generally, I agree that SA pinots are not especially good value relative to Oregon versions. However, I think the Walker Bay offerings are very good with the Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak pinot a superstar.

    David Smith | 15 April 2020

    My wife and I spend 6/12 of the year in British Columbia which is of course just across the border to Washington and Oregon. So we are often tasting wines in both states with Oregon of course taking over with its fabulous Pinots from the now famed Willamette Valley.

    The southern Oregon Pinots are cheap, fruity and delicious (average price CD$10 per bottle R133) and the more northern pinots (such as Columbia Gorge) are more serious and more expensive (average CD$1016 or R213). This is the reason that I write this letter in that the prices of South African reds have become ridiculous and completely over the top with HRV Pinot now at R1000+pb and N-J at anything up from R600pb and with Creation anything up to R900 to name just 3 that I have sampled recently. Unfortunately the cheaper Pinots in South Africa are not even worth sniffing.

      Winston Churchill | 15 April 2020

      I think you have a point, but I’m sure many SA wine producers are going to need every Rand they can get their hands on after we emerge from current strained circumstances. If people are willing to pay that kind of money for SA wine, so be it. Like art, nice cars, high priced restaurants etc., there is a point, superseding any rational sense of value, at which wine just becomes another luxury item. I think the whole Pinot Noir thing in SA is still emerging and attracting everything that usually comes with excitement and hype. Interesting to fast forward 10-20 years to see where it goes and what will go into the bottle when some of these vines are 30+ years old.

    Gerard Zhang | 9 April 2020

    Family Vineyard = X% Windansea + Y%Seadragon.
    X and Y changes annually, depending on Gordan’s preference.

    The Windansea 2018 is better than Seadragon 2018 in my opinion.
    Thoroughly engaging, the ladylike elegance and sweet cherry nuances are just amazing.
    In short it will stump plenty of burgs out there in the market for a fraction of the cost.

    Colin Harris | 9 April 2020

    Always fun having to pull out a thesaurus when I read wine reviews.

    Kevin R | 9 April 2020

    Hi Gilles,

    Just to add – their two better known single vineyard wines, Windansea and Seadragon (previously Block 6), are only produced in better vintages if I’m not mistaken. [Versions of these are sometimes available through the CWG auction also].
    NJ Family Vineyards PN is released every year.

    Dion Martin | 9 April 2020

    Confounding to taste… Could you perhaps elaborate.

      Christian Eedes | 9 April 2020

      Hi Dion, What I mean by “confounding to taste” is that I find Pinot Noir very changeable in the glass, more so than any other variety.

    GillesP | 9 April 2020

    Hello Christian

    Could you possibly elaborate on the wood ageing of this single vineyard and what makes it different from the “family vineyard” curve?


      Christian Eedes | 9 April 2020

      Hi GillesP, The Family Vineyard bottling is an expression of the farm as a whole, incorporating grapes from three separate vineyards (as I recall) including Windansea. Very little information to be had regarding winemaking although I gather it involved 30% whole-bunch fermentation.

      Udo Göebel | 9 April 2020

      This was for 2016 vintage, normally the 2018 would be similar:

      Matured for 11 months in 228L barrels produced in Burgundy and custom made for this vineyard. Tighter grained oak is preferred for subtle flavour, with longer seasoning and slower, lower temperature toasting. New oak comprises 30%. The wine is racked to larger 500L oak barrels for another 6 months of élevage. No fining and filtration before bottling.

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