Newton Johnson, Walker Bay Pinot Noir 2020
Newton Johnson’s ‘entry level’ Pinot Noir punches well above its weight and is made for earlier drinking.
Sweet red cherry and raspberry shot through by signature mineral acidity and lightly seasoned by oak.
“Wonderfully drinkable” – Tim Atkin MW
Our Walker Bay Pinot Noir is the shadow of our best vineyards, bearing perhaps not the same gravitas, but a level of quality and personality that distinguishes the Hemel-en-Aarde and its surrounds.
It is a wine made from younger vines, vineyards on the lower slopes, and other engaging sites in the vicinity. Farming these vineyards has guided us in terms of their individual strengths and limitations. The younger vines are from vineyards that could in time provide the best quality of all, however at this stage they are more preoccupied with a flirtatious, fruit assertive character with more complexity to come.
The vineyards on the lower slopes grow with a little more vigour as their accessibility to water and nutrients in the soil becomes easier. Depth of flavour accumulates as you move up the slope with the decomposed Granite based soils playing the common thread between all the vineyards
LOCATION & CLIMATE
The main vineyard contingent to this wine lies mostly on the south-facing, mid slopes, but includes lower parcels from the northern slope, 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).
An unprecedented vintage with remarkably long ripening.
The bulk of our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were picked in late February and into March. The Pinot Noir averaged 105 days of ripening from flowering to harvest, the first time we have exceeded the 100-day mark, that saw beautifully evolved and complex flavours with concentration and fine, ripe tannins.
The white wines of 2020 also express remarkable definition and depth due to the length of ripening. In contrast with the norm, we had to wait patiently for ripeness instead of being chased by it.
The grapes are packed in to large-surface area crates to limit pressure on the bunches. The day’s harvest is cooled down overnight to 8ºC in the winery’s refrigerated cold room. The bunches are sorted on a conveyor, destemmed, and fall directly to the fermenter (with no crushing).
No sulphur is used in the winemaking, allowing diverse micro-organisms from the grape itself to flourish unrestrained in the spontaneous fermentation. Some parcels also contain a discretionary percentage of whole bunches together with their stems. Cold maceration ensues for 4 to 6 days at 8 to 10°C. All parcels are fermented with indigenous yeasts, and only pigeage (punching down) applied for extraction. The wine spends approximately 15 – 20 days on the skins before pressing. After pressing the wine is racked and left to complete its malolactic ‘fermentation’ and maturation in barrel on its lees.
Matured for 11 months in barrique (228L) barrels produced in Burgundy and custom made for the various vineyards. Tighter grained oak is preferred for subtle flavour, with longer seasoning and slower, lower temperature toasting.
New oak comprises only 4%. The wine is racked to stainless steel tanks for another 6 months of élevage. No fining or filtration, and a sulphur adjustment before bottling.
Pan grilled salmon, roast chicken or a summery pasta dish.