Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2018 edition article on South Africa's Swartland (see blue link below).
Testalonga El Bandito CB 2016 - January 2018 Decanter review
This winery is run by husband and wife team, Craig Hawkins and Carla Kretzel, who bought the property in 2014. They currently rent 11ha of vineyards all based on the granite soils of the Paardeberg. They either farm these vineyards themselves or work closely with the farmers who own the land. Their first wine was a skin macerated Chenin Blanc in 2008 and they have gone on to add another Chenin Blanc, Grenache, Muscat, Carignan, Harslevelu and Syrah, all made from individual sites that give them the quality to make their wines with as little manipulation as possible.
The El Bandito Cortez Chenin Blanc was named after one of Craig’s favourite live songs “Cortez the Killer” by The Dave Mathews band as the song brings back great memories of his time working in Portugal.
The vineyard the Cortez comes from had not been farmed or pruned for several years so it had become totally overgrown. They put in a lot of hard work to recover it and have seen yields and quality that were far better than they could have imagined possible. This vineyard always gives great acidity and complexity to the wines.
“My sole fixed approach revolves around my criteria for picking the grapes as I have a clear picture in my mind what I want to achieve, and when what I taste on the vine fits that picture, I harvest.”
This wine is harvested by hand and the must is fermented in 300l Old French barrels. Malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur and there is no filtration or fining before the wine is bottled. This wine is produced using organic methods but does not yet have organic certification.
This is a brilliant, angular Chenin which is light yet mouth-filling, its pure green apple fruit crunching across the palate. The lees give spice and textural weight.