Special-release Chenin Blanc crafted by South African icons of natural wine. A salty, fruit-forward expression of oceanside vines!
Craig and Carla Hawkins launched Testalonga in the north of Swartland, South Africa in 2008.
They are part of a revolutionary ground swell taking place in South African wine, where traditions are being challenged and brave new territory is being explored. The painfully small amount of wine that this duo produces gets snapped up in short order the world over. Known for their striking intensity and nervy energy, Craig and Carla’s wines are on the cutting edge of the natural wine movement in their country.
About The Wine
Winemakers Craig and Carla Hawkins originally made this Mangum-only release of Chenin Blanc for a select group of somms in Norway (“Lekker” means ‘awesome’ in both Norwegian and Afrikaans). They make a tiny bit more these days, but it still gets snapped up fast!
The vineyard behind this Chenin belongs to Carla’s family, with the couple stepping in to save the vines just before they were meant to be ripped up to make way for a potato farm. Closer to the ocean than any of the other Testalonga vineyards, there’s a real salinity that comes through on the palate.
The grapes are hand-picked and fermented with indigenous yeasts, bottled unfined and with only a small dose of sulphur just prior to bottling.
About 2021 vintage
The 2021 vintage was again a good one with a very long “cool” summer by our standards, with increased yields (slightly) and the reds in particular are tasting amazing at the moment, very juicy and with nice weight and acidity. It was interesting to see the pH being a bit lower than last year on the reds, i think this is due to the vines being a bit less stressed, but who knows.
The whites are as salty and mineral as ever and they are starting to really find their rhythm now in our cellar.
We have improved from last year on the efficiency front (new equipment that helps buy us more time at the end of the day) and this has led to us being even more hygienic in the cellar and thus resulting VA’s being as low as ever and the actual grape coming to the fore.
Sweet Cheeks is back this year after taking a sabbatical last year, but we had a better spray program last season so it helped with our vineyards on the Paardeberg.
The Mourvedre this year is looking incredible, amazing fruit, balance and structure. Queen of Spades and Mangaliza are also up slightly in volume, as is the Lords of Dogtown.
The Pet Nats were bottled in a new darker glassed and better quality French champagne bottle. They are looking awesome, and the balance between acid and sugar on both of them is superb, i am very happy. We will also be using a new degorging machine which will hopefully take quality a step higher.
We are also making small changes to our labels that also will improve the quality, at least in my eyes.
A note on the Ninjas and wines moving forward –
1 – We have stopped using Consol glass (our SA glass supplier) for all of our bottles now (still and sparkling) , the Ninjas are now bottled in an imported French Champagne bottle which is much better in quality, it is noticeably better. The other positive is the labels go on much better on this bottle as it is slightly fatter on the label area. We just can’t trust the quality of South African products anymore.
2 – We are now using a new imported French machine for degorging the wine, and it is 100x better, so quality is only going to improve and be on par with our other bottles.
3 – I am now using a new paper for printing my all labels, which is much thicker and stronger and feels better.
4 – All the back labels will have barcodes incorporated into them now.