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El Bandito Cortez 2019


A Wine That

proved it's possible to make fresh, elegant, acid-driven Chenin Blanc from a hot place: the Swartland. This comes from old bush vines planted in the Conservatory vineyard in the early 70s. It's a little quiet at first, giving you the aroma of sea mist with a spritz of grapefruit, and after a few minutes in the glass this starts to show off with a wiggle - revealing grapefruit, rosemary, rock salt & a hint of tea. It's a wine for reading and taking your time with.

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  • Winemaker: Testalonga
El Bandito Cortez - 2019

South Africa












Decomposed Granite


Chenin Blanc

Where and How?

From the Observatory vineyard in the Paardeberg in the Swartland, this is old vine Chenin Blanc planted in 1972 on decomposed granite soils. Craig has rented this vineyard for many years and farms it organically.
The Chenin was whole bunch pressed and fermented naturally, with no manipulation. It was aged in 500L barrels and one foudre, and was bottled with the tiniest addition of sulphur.

The Winemaker: Testalonga

Craig grew up in East South Africa, near Durban, in an area where there are very few vineyards. His childhood dream was to become a game ranger and to work in conservation. It was only after school that he was introduced to the notion of viticulture, through his brother Neil. At school, the only subject Craig had got straight As in was art (the sciences lingered at Bs), so he was sold on the artistic nature of farming, winemaking and label design.
He embarked upon a mission to define Swartlandish terroir, his own way. Through Eben Sadie, he met Rémy Pedreno (Roc d'Anglade), Dirk Niepoort & Dorli Muhr, and Tom Lubbe, all of whom have helped him sculpt his own path. While sleeping in a tent at Roc d'Anglade, Rémy handed him a bottle of Ligurian skin-contact Vermentino made by Antonio Perrino. It was a wine that would change everything, and a wine that would lead to the first South African skin contact wine. ⁣

​Today, you can find Craig and Carla Hawkins in the true Swartland wilderness – 100km north of the hub of the Paardeberg, in an area called Piketberg on their new farm, Bandits Kloof. This is rural Africa; not many human beings are here, but rather wildlife exists in abundance. Together with 84 other farms, they are working on a project with the Cape Leopard Trust, to track the movement of leopards and to investigate their interaction with farm animals. Thus, Craig has unwittingly fulfilled his childhood dream synonymously with farming vines and making wine. ⁣

Explore the Story of Testalonga

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