Cortez, 2019, Testalonga
A complex and mineral wine perfect with seafood
Region: Swartland, South Africa
Grape(s): Chenin Blanc
Genre: Organic (in mindset, not stamp)
Low Sulphur: Yes
Tasting Notes: Green apple, green pear, saline, oyster shells, creamy structure
Testalonga was set up in 2008 by Craig and Carla Hawkins. Based in the Swartland region of South Africa, north of Cape Town and around an hour inland from the Atlantic coast. Craig started to learn about wine making after university, spending six years working with Eben Sadie during the on-season in South Africa - with the southern hemisphere’s off-season allowing him to spend harvests in Europe too, including with Tom Lubbe, from Domaine Matassa. At the time they was began producing, low-intervention winemaking was not popular in South Africa, leading to the name ‘Testalonga’ - a Sicilian outlaw, and a nod to the fact they were outlaws from South African wine tradition. Their two lines are: ‘El Bandito’ and ‘Baby Bandito’.
Cortez is probably the flagship wine from Testalonga in the El Bandito line. Vines from the 1970 are hand harvested and pressed as whole bunches before fermentation takes place in stainless steel. The wine is then aged in large and very well used barrels, giving a creamy structure but of course no oak spice. It is an atypical South African chenin, with lean minerality and salinity balanced with a rich texture and insane depth. 2019 is one of the Craig’s biggest vintages, and this wine will only get better and better. It is our favourite oyster wine, and will be a perfect match to a range of seafood dishes.