Stay Brave, Testalonga
Stay Brave, 2020, Testalonga
An elegant orange wine for easy drinking
Region: Swartland, South Africa
Grape(s): Chenin Blanc
Genre: Organic (in mindset, not stamp)
Low Sulphur: Yes
Tasting Notes: Orange peel, yellow apples, fine tannins and finesse
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.”
Stay Brave is from a chenin vineyard planted in the early 1980s in bush vines. Craig revived it in 2015 and the first producing vintage of this wine was 2017. The chenin is macerated with the skins for 10 days and pressed off into old foudres, where it ages for around 6 months. The result is a delicate orange wine, with a golden colour and only very delicate tannins. This makes it easy drinking, and rounder in the fruit profile than the ultra-lean chenin in ‘Keep on Punching’. Orange peel, grapefruit, yellow apples, blossom and a good acidity balance this wine and make it great to drink now but exceptional if you take a couple and hide one for a year or so!