The Testalonga Keep On Punching Chenin vines were planted in 1972, a bush vine (un-trellised), farmed organically. This is a block they have worked with for some time (at previous jobs) and it always gives very small clusters that are full of concentration and high natural acidity. The soil is very exposed (lots of rocks) and this comes through in the wines backbone.
No buttery oak, this is all 100% stainless steel tank to keep that citrus twang just as clean as a whistle. Stylistically this wine fits more closely with the Chenins of the Loire valley - the fruit is apple and pear with some nice zippy white peach. The grapes come from old bush vines that yield small clusters of grapes with great concentration and acidity year on year. Craig's wines have a keen following, and for good reason. They don't tend to hang around for long either.
Craig Hawkins, Winemaker at Testalonga Wines, is the rolling stone of the South African wine industry and the winemaker of Baby Bandito Follow Your Dreams, which is produced at Testalonga wines is in a fantastic place, having just released his new vintage to the world.
He and (wife) Carla and 4 dogs are now ensconced in Bandits Kloof in Piketberg, the northern reaches of the Swartland; He finally has a dedicated winery with plenty of space and a steady supply of excellent grapes from well-farmed vineyards.
Great South African wine is quite a recent phenomenon. During the apartheid, the wine industry was completely dominated by one organization, which controlled everything from production to price, so it is only since the early 1990s that independent wine producers have emerged. After years of experimentation, he has developed a style that he is comfortable with, and with that he makes around 40,000 bottles, using a variety of grapes under two labels: Testalonga El Bandito and Baby Bandito.
After travelling extensively in Portugal and Austria learning his craft Craig Hawkins returned to South Africa and became the winemaker at top Swartland estate Lammershoek. Craig now makes his own wines from various small, organic (Organic but not certified) vineyard sites in Swartland and makes his wine naturally, with as little intervention as possible. These are stunning natural hand-crafted wines from low yielding vines, wild ferments and nothing added except a little SO2 at bottling in some but not all the wines.
Testalonga Baby Banito Keep On Punching 2019