I was thrilled by this. It’s the latest red from Craig Hawkins in the Swartland, and it has been a bit controversial in the wine press. Andrew Jefford, normally a hero of mine, seems to have it in for Craig, and in a very mean swipe in his Decanter blog he described it as ‘fermented verjuice, and tastes like cranberry-flavoured wheat beer’. I disagree: I think it’s a very brave wine that touches the profound. It’s a little challenging, yes, but why is it that wine critics are the only people in the flavour world who feel threatened by challenging flavours? In the restaurant world, bravery and flavour boundary-pushing is celebrated far more than among wine critics, who tend to have a narrow view of what’s acceptable.
Anyway, now Craig and Carla have left Lammershoek, and therefore no longer have access to fruit from the farm, it looks like they are going to pioneer some new areas, looking to find exciting terroirs. Good luck to them.
Testalonga El Bandito King of Grapes 2014 Swartland, South Africa
100% whole bunch Grenache. Red cherry colour with a bit of cloudiness.So pure, vivid and fresh with juicy red cherry fruit and some spiciness. A bit of cherry pit character, lots of grippy structure and some keen acidity. This is pure, fresh, detailed and fine, full of life and energy. Thrilling, and – above all – great fun. 95/100
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