Testalonga El Bandito Sweet Cheeks Magnum 2017
Only 2 left in stock
Craig Hawkins is the rolling stone of the South African wine industry and the winemaker of El Bandito Sweet Cheeks, 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 name comes from the children who every year love to pick at the sweet berries and eat them, hence ‘sweet cheeks’. Probably the most fragrant wine we make. Hanepoot (Muscat Alexandrie) is actually a table grape and meant for eating but we did an experiment in 2013 with skin contact to try and extract the flavour and it has made one of our most refreshing wines to drink.’ – Craig & Carla Hawkins
Decomposed Granite, East facing, 200m above sea level, from the Paardeberg. Bush vines planted in the 1960’s, they are situated in a very ‘wet’ part of the Paardeberg, at the bottom of the slope, and this helps with ripening the large berries fully. 2015 was a very healthy year and the skins were very healthy which helped with skin fermentation. Hand-harvested then fermented after being 100% Destemmed. Pressed after 10 days and matured in 500L old oak casks. No added yeast or acid. Full malolactic fermentation takes place. SO2 added a month before bottling, un-fined, unfiltered.
The El Bandito Sweet Cheeks is skin contact Muscat from the Observatory vineyard. Despite the length of maceration, the wine is just golden-yellow and the aromas are glorious – pink grapefruit and peach-blossom. The wine has surprising acidity (or low ph) and a salty finish. It matches perfectly with smoked salmon or mild Indian dishes.