Southend Chardonnay 2020, Newton Johnson, WO Upper Hemel-en-Aarde
Lemony freshness and poise meets a beautifully textured and mineral palate in this lightly oaked South African chardonnay from a selection of cooler vineyard sites for balance and complexity.
In the mid-1990s, Dave Johnson and his wife Felicity (née Newton) joined what was, at the time, a small band of producers in the upper Hemel-en-Aarde valley, and today their sons Gordon and Bevan have taken over the running of this award-winning winery and vineyards. Winemaking is overseen by Gordon and his wife Nadia.
The first bottling was in 1997, and recognition grew steadily, with Newton Johnson now best known for its fine range of pinot noir, including most recently three single-vineyard wines to express different aspects of the granitic soils of the vineyards. The coastal Upper Hemel-en-Aarde valley has one of the coolest climates in South Africa, with maritime winds moderating the temperature, and a diversity of granite, quartz and clay soils.
The grapes are handpicked and packed in to small, shallow 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 grape bunches are hand-sorted on a conveyor table and fall directly to the press for
whole bunch pressing . The best quality juice (approximately 40% of the press yield) is drained
directly to barrel, with the balance settled by temperature only (no enzyme used) and racked
the next day to barrel for spontaneous fermentation. No sulphur is used in the winemaking,
allowing diverse micro-organisms from the grape itself to flourish unrestrained in the