Craig Hawkins pretty much eschews the label “natural wines” for the stuff he makes under the Testalonga El Bandito label as he feels that the term is too mired in controversy but he’s South Africa’s leading proponent of the “nothing added, nothing taken away” approach to winemaking and the results are compelling. “I want my wines to be uplifting and invigorating to drink,” he says. Right on, man!
Testalonga El Bandito Cortez 2014
From Chenin Blanc. Apple – green, yellow and “brown” on the nose and palate. Light and fresh with a savoury finish. Pure and unadulterated but for me not quite as captivating as the 2013.
Testalonga El Bandito 2014
From Chenin Blanc, four weeks on the skins. Lovely floral perfume but also hints of pear, apple and spcie. Ultimately, however, a long list of descriptors is beside the point – this is essence of grape. An ethereal wine – extremely pretty and really alive thanks to a riveting line of acidity.
Testalonga El Bandito 2012
From Chenin Blanc, four weeks on the skins and two and a half years in barrel. Orange rind, spice and ginger on the nose. Super-intense with arresting acidity and an extremely long, savoury finish. Not for the uninitiated.
Testalonga El Bandito King of Grapes 2014
From Grenache. Cherry, strawberry, wild flowers, herbs, spice and a certain “snapped twig” quality. Light and fresh with gentle tannins. You could drink this all day long.
Testalonga El Bandito Redemption 2014
From Syrah. Dark fruit, lavender and earth on the nose. Good fruit concentration, fresh acidity and fine tannins. Very appealing if not quite as pretty as King of Grapes.
No scores at the request of the producer. Wine Cellar price in all instances: R230 a bottle.