The Testalonga project was born in 2008 from an idea of Craig Hawkins, a young South African producer with experiences in various cellars between Austria and where he was fortunate to work with Eben Sadie, Stephane Ogier and Remy Pedreno of Roc d'Anglande, and Tom Lubbe of Domaine Matassa.
The winery is located in Bandits Kloof in Piketberg, the northern part of Swartland. Testalonga is named after an old Italian, called Testalonga, who produced wines from those parts. Craig asked him one day if he could use his name, and Testalonga laughing gave him his consent. Craig has an idea of well-defined wine, hinged on three hinges: purity, expressiveness and drinkability, all seasoned by a healthy spirit as an experimenter never domo.
Testalonga, despite its young age, is considered among the leading companies in the world of alternative wines. It produces about 40,000 bottles divided into a battery that includes its own surprising bottles: chenin, macerated chenin, sparkling colombard, muscat of Alexandria, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Syrah and amarela tint. Their wines are exciting, even striking for the South African wine culture, without forgetting the labels strongly influenced by the style of the great street artists, they comment on their own.
I wish I was Ninja Pet Nat comes from dry land trellised vines planted in 1998. This vineyard is a new addition to the range with good levels of acidity and low pH’s. The block is in Wellington and is on decomposed granite soils. It has been farmed organically since it was planted and belongs to Dr Edmund Oettlé who is a wonderful man to get to know. He has a great deal of knowledge with regards to organic farming and makes wonderful brandy. The block of Colombard is wonderfully acidic due to the river that flows right next to the block which allows it to never stress.
Hand-harvested then fermented in stainless steel at a temperature of 8 degrees. Racked 6 times during fermentation to remove the sediment. At a sugar of 52g/l it was bottled under crown cap where it was left to finish fermentation and build up a natural pressure of carbon dioxide. After 10 months the bottles were riddled and disgorged and topped with the same wine (from other decanted bottles) and crown capped again. No SO2 was ever added to the wine and neither was any settling or fining agent.
Testalonga El Bandito I Wish I Was A Ninja Pet Nat, delicious sparkling Pet Nat made from Colombard so off dry with a good balance of acidity, sugar and bubbles. Craig says, "The name came about whilst we were bottling the wine in harvest and we got onto the topic of Ninjas. The photo was taken by myself in the pool of good friend Paul Jordaan, during one of many Swartland “Braais”. I knew then that the photo would be my label as I think it captures the essence of what I want the people to feel like when they drink this wine.'"