Testalonga new releases

November 8, 2017
by Christian
in What I Drank Last Night
with 0 Comments

Craig and Carla Hawkins, operating out of the Swartland, are arguably South Africa’s leading proponents of “natural wine”. The 2017 vintage has served them well, just about all the wines having a particular clearness and delicacy about them. Tasting notes and ratings as follows:

Testalonga I Wish I Was A Ninja 2017
Approximate retail price: R185

Pétillant Naturel from Colombar. Fruity and fresh with a soft mousse. Has a winning sweet ‘n sour quality about it but arguably a bit expensive for what’s really quite a simple wine.

Editor’s rating: 87/100.

Testalonga Baby Bandito Keep on Punching 2017
Approximate retail price: R135

From a 1972 Chenin Blanc vineyard. Elusive notes of citrus and white peach on a generally shy nose. The palate is extra-light and fresh with a real steeliness about it.

Editor’s rating: 89/100.

Testalonga Baby Bandito Stay Brave 2017

Natural born killer.

Testalonga Baby Bandito Stay Brave 2017
Approximate retail price: R135

From a 1981 Chenin Blanc vineyard. Fermented for 11 days on the skins. Herbs and flowers before citrus and peach plus ginger and other spice. Pure fruit, lively acidity and a savoury finish. Irresistible.

Editor’s rating: 93/100.

Testalonga Baby Bandito Chin Up 2017
Approximate retail price: R135

From a 1981 Cinsaut vineyard.  Fermented for 10 days on the skins. Red apple, red cherry and a little earth. Juicy and fresh with soft tannins, this has an alcohol of just 9.4%. Utterly smashable.

Editor’s rating: 90/100.

Testalonga Baby Bandito Follow your Dreams 2017
Approximate retail price: R135

From a 2001 Carignan vineyard. Raspberry, pomegranate and spice on the nose. Again juicy and fresh but just a little more structured than the wine above, the tannins powdery in texture.

Editor’s rating: 91/100.

Testalonga El Bandito Lords of Dogtown 2017
Approximate retail price: R275

From a 1981 Chenin Blanc vineyard. Potpourri before cut apple, a little nuttiness and some spice. Light yet flavourful with a lovely gentle acidity.

Editor’s rating: 92/100.

Testalonga El Bandito Cortez 2017
Approximate retail price: R270

From a 1972 Chenin Blanc vineyard. Vinified in 50% stainless steel, 50% older 500-litre barrels. Currently appears extraordinarily shy on nose and palate although there are hints of apple and peach. Pure and delicate.

Editor’s rating: 91/100.

Testalonga El Bandito Hallelujah Chicken Run 2017
Approximate retail price: R270
From a Viognier vineyard planted in 2001. Matured for 10 months in an old 200-litre barrel. Some floral fragrance plus white peach on the nose while the palate shows pure fruit and zippy acidity before a salty finish.

Editor’s rating: 92/100.

Testalonga El Bandito Mangaliza 2017
Approximate retail price: R275

From a 1971 Harslevelü vineyard. Some floral perfume before pear and white peach. Pure and fresh, this seems to have particular poise.

Editor’s rating: 92/100.

Testalonga El Bandito Skin Contact Chenin Blanc 2017
Approximate retail price: R270

From a 1972 Chenin Blanc vineyard. Fermented on the skins for 10 days. Again the nose proves elusive with notes of yellow earth and spice but not much else. The palate, however, is not without substance despite an alcohol of just 11.38%. There are flavours of cut apple and spice and the acidity is nicely integrated.

Editor’s rating: 92/100.

Testalonga El Bandito Sweet Cheeks 2017
Approximate retail price: R275

From a 1960s vineyard of Muscat d’Alexandrie. Fermented for 11 days on the skins. As ever, some floral perfume before a distinctive grape-iness. Pure, fresh and not as thick-textured as 2016.

Editor’s rating: 91/100.

Testalonga El Bandito Queen of Spades 2017
Approximate retail price: R275

From a 1999 vineyard of Tinta Amarela. 100% whole-bunch fermented. Red fruit, some floral perfume and herbs on the nose. Intensely flavoured with fresh acidity and pleasantly grippy tannins. Quite a bit less rustic than 2016.

Editor’s rating: 91/100.

Testalonga El Bandito Monkey Gone to Heaven 2017
Approximate retail price: R275

From a 2001 Mourvèdre vineyard. 100% whole-bunch fermented. Black fruit, earth and spice on the nose. The palate appears relatively rich and sweet although according to analysis it’s anything but (alchohol is 12.4% and RS is 1.01 g/l) while the tannins have a nice firmness about them. About as “chunky” as anything that Hawkins makes.

Editor’s rating: 93/100.

Testalonga El Bandito The Dark Side 2017
Approximate retail price: R275

From a 2001 Syrah vineyard. 100% whole-bunch fermented. The nose shows black fruit, fynbos and pepper with a hint of reduction in the background. The palate shows pure fruit, fresh acidity and fine tannins – wonderfully supple and graceful to drink. A triumph of understatement.

Editor’s rating: 94/100.

Find our South African wine ratings database here.

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