Keep on Punching, Testalonga

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Keep on Punching, 2020, Testalonga

Crunchy citrus juice that can be sunk in all weathers

Region: Swartland, South Africa
Grape(s): Chenin Blanc
Genre: Organic (in mindset, not stamp)
Low Sulphur: Yes
Tasting Notes: Lemon, lime, green apple, flint, lots of acidity

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’.

As Craig Hawkins himself says, “Baby Bandito is a project we started in 2015. We wanted to work with vineyards that deliver wines that can be drunk young yet still “over deliver” in quality one would expect from our most affordable wine.”

A fresh and energetic white, from the Baby Bandito line, made on Chenin Blanc planted on rocky soils in 1961 in bush vines. It is farmed organically and hand-harvested, before being pressed as whole bunches - with fermentation taking place in large, stainless-steel tanks. The ageing process lasts around 6 months and is in a mix of steel and old oak barrels, noted on the bottle as ‘1 third stainless steel, 2 thirds old foudres, 3 thirds goodness” – he’s definitely right on the last part!