Testalonga El Bandito Monkey Gone To Heaven 2017
Craig Hawkins is the rolling stone of South African wine industry and the winemaker of El Bandito Monkey Gone To Heaven which is produced at Testalonga wines is in a fantastic place, having just released his new vintage to the world. He and (wife) Carla and 4 dogs 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.
Great South African wine is quite a recent phenomenon. During the apartheid, the wine industry was completely dominated by one organization, which controlled everything from production to price, so it is only since the early 1990s that independent wine producers have emerged. 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. After travelling extensively in Portugal and Austria learning his craft Craig Hawkins returned to South Africa and became the winemaker at top Swartland estate Lammershoek. Craig now makes his own wines from various small, organic (Organic but not certified) vineyard sites in Swartland and makes his wine naturally, with as little intervention as possible. These are stunning natural hand-crafted wines from low yielding vines, wild ferments and nothing added except a little SO2 at bottling in some but not all the wines.
The bush vines were planted in 2001, they are situated on slightly more clay-rich “Koffie Klipp” soils of the Abbotsdale region on the foot slopes of the Paardeberg. This is a 1ha block shared with a good friend and winemaker Jurgen Gouws who farms the block. 2017 was a very tough year for all varieties but especially Mourvedre as it ripens so late. The Monkey Gone To Heaven is a fresh redcurrant fruit wine with spice tones and herbs on the nose whilst the palate has plenty of juicy fruit flavours with great texture and length. It’s complex and long.