Testalonga El Bandito 2014

A thing of beauty.

A thing of beauty.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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No scores at the request of the producer. Wine Cellar price in all instances: R230 a bottle.

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  1. Tim JamesDecember 8, 2014 at 9:33 pmReply

    Interesting, Christian – I’m not a keen scorer myself, but I’d always thought you did your scoring in the interests of the winelover, and not at the behest of the producer. Why did you agree to Craig’s request that you shouldn’t follow your usual practice on this occasion?

    • Christian EedesDecember 9, 2014 at 7:49 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Tim, For one thing, Craig asked me explicitly and out of courtesy, I obliged. For another, I more or less buy the argument that the wines sit too far outside any conventional paradigm of assessment for scores to be meaningful – some of the wines compare (very favourably) to their more mainstream counterparts but others are just weird. I’m generally a big fan (they appeal to my anti-establishment tendencies) but I accept that they aren’t going to have universal appeal…

  2. Hennie @ BatonageDecember 4, 2014 at 3:05 pmReply

    I really like Craig’s wines and the whole philosophy behind it. I can listen to him talk all day long. It is ultimate geek stuff and I love it.

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