The Newton Johnson family imported the first vine material of this fragrant variety to the Cape and produced the first wine here with designs on establishing it as a harmonious pilgrim to the maritime conditions of the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The grape has its origins on the wet Atlantic north-west coast of Spain, where monks are believed to have brought it from the Rhine River in northern Europe centuries before. Its native soil is of Granite origin, similar to ours, where it expresses subliminal definition, almost Riesling-like florality and complexity.
An opulent vintage with fascinating floral perfumes. A dense base of white peach and quince fruit juxtaposed with a beeswax/lees character. Airy scents of apple blossom and honeydew exhilarate the senses with an austere edge of apple skin. The waxy texture envelops the palate, succulent in the middle, and the flavour protracted by delicate acidity and the grip of mealy grape tannin.
Alcohol by volume: 13.28 %
Total Acidity: 6.5 g/l
Residual sugar: 3.3 g/l
This vineyard lies mid-slope in deeper, well drained soils at an altitude of 257m, in the porphyritic Granite soils of the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. This appellation ranges from 4 to 8 km in proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The climate is cool and temperate, where parallel mountain ranges channel the southerly oceangoing winds through the appellation during the summer. These southerly winds in turn create regular sea mists and overcast conditions, moderating the temperatures in the valley. The annual rainfall is 850mm, with 50% falling in the winter months (May – August).
APPELLATION: Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
VARIETIES: 100% Albariño
SOIL: Deep decomposed granite with fine 0.5-2mm gravel.
ASPECT: North-West facing Slope of 13%
TRELLISING: 7-wire Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP) with movable wires
AGE OF VINES: 3 to 15 years (grafted on to 10 year old rootstock)
VINES PER Ha: 3333
AVERAGE YIELD: 8.8 tons/ha (58 hl/Ha)
A more moderate season compared to the previous 3 years, with fewer extremes of temperature spikes and water stress, allowing more consistency for the vines. The preceding winter produced adequate rain and cold temperatures that held out through August to allow for later budding in early September, not seen since 2014. The rise in temperature was gradual and though the rainfall was not abundant, we were rewarded with timely rain events towards the end of vegetative growth and again before harvest. Colour development in the early red varieties were problematic, requiring a few rounds of green harvesting to secure concentration and tannin development in what would become superbly supple and seamless wines.
The grapes are packed in to large-surface area crates to limit crushing of the bunches. The day’s harvest is cooled down overnight to 8oC in the winery’s refrigerated cold room. The bunches are hand-sorted on a conveyor, destemmed and crushed, falling directly in to stainless steel tanks where, after 12 hours skin contact, the juice is allowed to drain into lower tanks for settling. The juice is settled overnight (without enzyme) and racked to stainless steel and a large concrete egg vessel for fermentation by indigenous yeasts. A portion of the grapes were fermented partially on its skins and pressed to large old oak barrels. No sulphur was added before fermentation.
Matured for 8 months in stainless steel (55%), a large concrete egg vessel (20%) and old, bigger volume barrels (25%). No fining and light filtration before bottling.
BOTTLES PRODUCED: 7300 x 750ml
BOTTLING DATE: 21 November 2018
BEST DRINKING: Now – 8 years
‘The nose of the 2018 from Newton Johnson displays a floral top note before peach and orange plus just a touch of leesy character. The palate has good fruit expression, as well a slight greasiness when it comes to texture – it’s rounder with less piercing acidity than the Springfield of the same vintage. The finish, meanwhile, is gently savoury. It’s perhaps not quite sure what it wants to be but intriguing, even so. ‘ – Christian Eedes, Winemag.co.za, 90/100