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This is a ripe, rich white from Hungarian grape variety Hárslevelü, planted in a single Swartland vineyard in 1971. This is the grape most commonly associated with Tokaji wines from Hungary. The old vines give a real concentration to the profile, lots of honey and toasted almonds but balanced with a natural acidity. This wine has floral, peach and pear characteristics, as well as depth and poise. It also has a rich texture and long finish!
Craig Hawkins is a something of a superstar in the world of natural wines. After learning his craft in Portugal he returned to South Africa and became the winemaker at top estate Lammershoek before moving on to make his own wines from various small, organic sites around the Swartland. The El Bandito range is Testalonga’s premium offering, from old vines, always single vineyard, single variety the aim is to make wine from grapes and nothing else.
El Bandito Swartland, South Africa 2021 Hárslevelú White Craig Hawkins Bush vines planted in the 1971, organically farmed, situated in a very “wet” part of the Paardeberg, at the bottom of the slope. The vineyards grow very upright with very loose open clusters which help with good airflow to reduce disease pressure. The vineyard orientation and higher than average rainfall made for a challenging growing season, but the resulting yield and quality was worth the effort.
Hand-harvested then fermented after being 100% whole bunch pressed. Pressed into 1 x 500L and 1 x 225L French oak barrels. No added yeast or acid. Full Malolactic fermentation takes place. SO2 added a month before bottling, un-fined with a light clarifying filtration.
Light Dishes and Salads, Poultry, Spicy Foods
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.