Home / Testalonga, El Bandito Skin Contact Chenin 2018
Testalonga, El Bandito Skin Contact Chenin 2018
Chenin Blanc 100%
Craig & Carla Hawkins
A true skin contact, organic, orange wine. Two years on skins gives more texture to the wine. Full bruised apple aromas lead to a powerful, intense palate with nuts and minerals. Classic skin contact orange wine with the full spectrum of mature fruits, spice, nuts, caramel and savoury characters. Craig's wines are getting better and better and his use of lees to enrich and add a mineral dimension to the wines makes even better.
Made from Grapes...
Craig Hawkins is in a good place. He and Carla 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. 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. When he started his project, Craig was very much in the left of left field. And this was not just because he was based in the wild west of Swartland where young growers, who wanted to discover themselves, gravitated. Craig has never been part of the mainstream, even in Swartland, but that is because he is not imitating anyone. He has a clear idea of what he wants to do, which is to make wines for his own satisfaction and to his own taste, rather than track the market. It is important to note that as his own taste has evolved so has the style of the wines. Hence the name Testalonga El Bandito. Testalonga was the nickname of an old Italian guy who made his white wines like red wines. Craig asked him via a friend whether he could use the name for his labels and he laughed and gave his assent. Testalonga is also the name of a bandit from Sicily. The El Bandito skin contact Chenin was the first wine that Craig made; a defiant, elemental wine, that at the time was regarded as something freakish, an aberration. Craig changed the agenda. These days, whilst skin contact and orange wines are not ten-a-penny, no-one blinks when they see one; a large number of South African vignerons are making a wine in this idiom. Craig worked previously with Eben Sadie, Stephane Ogier and Remy Pedreno (Roc d'Anglande) and also with Dorli Muhr in Austria and Dirk Niepoort in Portugal. Tom Lubbe (Domaine Matassa) and who also farmed and made wines in the Paardeberg was also a mentor. Craig started the Bandito project in 2008, whilst he was working as head winemaker at Lammershoek (his father-in-law, Paul Kretzel owned the estate). The first vintage was a skin maceration Chenin from a block in the Lammershoek estate. The Cortez (which was to made in the following year) came from the Observatory vineyard that Craig rescued and revitalised through hard pruning. 2015 was a turbulent year. The acquisition of Lammershoek by a German consortium led to Craig's resignation from the company, and he was compelled to fall back entirely on the Testalonga project. Without a base, he improvised using space in various wineries. Despite the logistical nightmare, 2015 proved his most successful vintage ever, and a real coming-of-age.