Wine of Origin: Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley
Winemaker: Gordon and Nadia Newton-Johnson
Background: It’s all about family at the Newton Johnson vineyards in the glorious Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley outside Hermanus! Father Dave, who is one of South Africa’s first Cape Wine Masters, and mother Felicity (nee Newton), a food and wine fundi, started Newton Johnson Vineyards back in 1996, having been involved in the wine industry since the ‘70’s . They planted their first vines in 1997 as well as building a small winery. In the same year they crushed their first grapes (at that stage being brought in) and bottled their first two wines, a Chardonnay and a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Sons, Brevan and Gordon, were on hand to assist with the first crushing and it’s been a true family business ever since!!
Today older son, Brevan, is the Managing Director as well as looking after the very important marketing side while Gordon heads up the cellar and winemaking with his lovely wife Nadia. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are their strengths but they produce other varieties as well as blends making up a portfolio offering over 13 different wines including the very unusual Albarino.
Last week saw the launch of their new vintages and we enjoyed them over lunch at Newton Johnsons’ restaurant called “The Restaurant” with Peter Gough-Wood’s delicious menu matching the wines. The Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2016 was the perfect wine for the occasion as the weather was balmy and not too cold despite the traditional low cloud suspended in the valley as seen from the restaurant deck. The Family Vineyards Chardonnay is produced from vines grown on three ideal sites on the farm. These vineyards benefit from being close to the ocean where the on shore breezes channel through the parallel mountain ranges on either side. These winds help create the regular sea mists and overcast conditions which in turn keep the temperatures moderate especially during the summer growing season.
After harvest the grapes were hand sorted prior to fermentation in barrel. Once complete the wine was matured in custom made Burgundy barrels for up to 11 months.
Result: Complex wine with fresh citrus aromas which leads to creamy, silky lemony flavours with subtle hints of butterscotch. The cool climate minerality kicks in on the dry yet fresh finish
When to drink: Now till 2022
Drink with what: Peter Gough-Wood prepared smoked duck breast with caramelised pear and walnuts which paired sublimely with the wine.
Expect to pay: R305.00