Working with Richard Kelley MW and the team at Dreyfus Ashby, WineTrust is delighted to bring you Newton Johnson Family Vineyards – a fresh face for the South Africa portfolio. Also making its WineTrust debut is the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde valley, producing some equally beautiful wines to boot.
This place certainly looks like paradise. Tucked away near the southernmost tip of the Cape and indeed the African continent, it forms part of the Walker Bay wine region. Following the R320 road inland form the seaside town of Hermanus, popular with whale watchers, it actually consists of three appellations:
- Hemel-en-Aarde Valley: not just to confuse people. It designates an area of clay-rich shale soil at the bottom of the valley, similar to Cote d’Or in Burgundy, and where one can find the likes of Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson – pioneers in the region that first discovered the area’s potential in the 1980s and 1990s.
- The Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley: surrounded by the Overberg Mountains, the higher slopes consist of Table Mountain sandstone and decomposed granite.
- The Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge: the highest and smallest of the three appellations, it is technically not part of the valley itself, instead falling in the neighbouring Klein River Valley. Furthest from the sea with cooler temperature and a higher diurnal temperature ranges, vines here experience the longest growing seasons.
Despite only 15 estates in the area, Hemel-en-Aarde is regarded as one of the best cool climate locations in South Africa. Hemmed in by the surrounding mountains, cool breezes generated by the Antarctic Benguela current are funneled up the valley; no more than 10 miles from the sea, vineyards experience much lower summer temperatures that their inland counterparts. Vines grow on well-draining soil with low fertility, aiding the development of high quality fruit along with the extended growing season provided by the climate.
Hemel-en-Aarde is most revered for producing Burgundian style, premium quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. With excellent estates like Newton Johnson producing wines of consistently high quality, this sub region continues to build a worldwide reputation.
Regular Platter 5 Star Winners
Founded by Cape Wine Master, Dave Johnson and his wife, Felicity (née Newton), Newton Johnson Family Vineyards has been solidly building its reputation over the past 20 years. Since their first vintage in 1997 made from bought fruit, they are now producing some of the Cape’s finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from their own 15 hectares of vines. Three Five Stars in Platter’s Wine Guide 2016 says it all!
Indeed, Newton Johnson was one of only two wineries in the country to receive a 5 Star Award for their Pinot Noir – the other being fellow Hemel-en-Aarde producers Bouchard Finlayson just down the road.
Having completed his Wine Master’s thesis on the Pinot Noir grape, Dave has always been driven by passion for that variety and an intimate knowledge of the vineyard sites from which to source the best fruit. Furthermore, Newton Johnson has the ability to produce some outstanding Chardonnay – another of Hemel-en-Aarde’s ‘signature’ varieties. Despite a difficult growing season, their 2014 vintage Chardonnay still achieved a Platter 5 Star rating this year; a fantastic achievement – and the 2015’s even better!
Dave has since handed over to his sons Bevan and Gordon, joined by his wife Nadia, continuing a family legacy and an estate that delivers outstanding quality.
“Outstanding New World example of a Burgundian styled, barrel fermented Chardonnay – with real pedigree, pristine stone fruit flavours and exceptional balance.”
A classic partner to flat white fish with a butter, capers and fish stock based sauce.
“A Platter 5 star winner, this is an excellent example from one of South Africa’s leading producers and cool climate regions. A New World Pinot displaying ripe cherry and red berry fruits but also refined delicacy, soft tannins and a pleasurable, lilting character. Top notch.”
5 Stars- Platter’s Wine Guide 2016
93 points- Tim Atkin MW
Try with the classic Chinese style duck and cherry or plum sauce, or wild mushroom risotto.