Craig Hawkins: Testalonga and Lammershoek

south africa

Craig Hawkins: Testalonga and Lammershoek

craig hawkins

Craig Hawkins (pictured above with significant other Carla Kretzel in the background) is one of South Africa’s most talented and brave winemakers. He’s the winemaker at Lammershoek, and also makes his own wines under the Testalonga label. He’s very experimental, and has worked a lot with skin contact and lees. He prefers picking earlier, making lower alcohol wines, and works pretty naturally. These are some of the more recent releases of his wines. The Lammershoek ‘Cellar Foot’ series is Lammershoek’s small batch, adventurous label.
testalonga el bandito

Testalonga El Bandito Cortez 2012 Swartland, South Africa
10.5% alcohol, pH 2.99. No skin contact. Lively, fresh, lemony and bright. Very fresh with lovely purity. A direct, linear, lighter style. 93/100 (04/14)

Testalonga El Bandito Skin Contact 2011 Swartland, South Africa
This had 6 weeks on the skins, and was 40% whole bunch. Lovely grip here: really fresh and detailed with notes of grapes, citrus and pear, as well as some spiciness. 94/100 (04/14)

Testalonga King of Grapes Grenache 2013 Swartland, South Africa
100% whole bunch, 11.5% alcohol. So fresh, lively and peppery with nice grip and brightness. Lovely pure red cherries and herbs. Drinkable and fresh, in a lighter style. 93/100

lammershoek cellar foot

Lammershoek Cellar Foot The Hárslevelű 2013 Swartland, South Africa
Soft, textured with nice apple and pear fruit. Nuts, herbs and a nice texture. 91/100

Lammershoek Cellar Foot Underwater Wine 2013 Swartland, South Africa
A blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan, aged in barrels submerged in water. Lovely purity. Sweet, fresh cherry and plum fruit with a bit of grip. Linear with lovely balance. 93/100

Lammershoek Cellar Foot Mourvedre 2012 Swartland, South Africa
Lively, fresh, sweet and spicy with attractive fruit and a bit of grip. Some ginger spice notes, as well as herbal characters. Lovely freshness. 92/100

UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene (Testalonga); Fields Morris & Verdin (Lammershoek)
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10 Comments on Craig Hawkins: Testalonga and LammershoekTagged , ,
wine journalist and flavour obsessive

10 thoughts on “Craig Hawkins: Testalonga and Lammershoek

  1. Interesting. As mentioned elsewhere,Andrew Jefford in the latest WOFW was not very keen on the Testalonga wines He believes the attraction of these so called natural wines is as much moral as anything else !! I agree

  2. Bought a case of (not reviewed) LAM White (Chenin, Viognier, Chardonnay) a few years back and found it was tasting completely different (and not in a good way) just a few months down the line. Would be interesting to bring into account longevity and consistency with some of these “natural” wines.

  3. Keith, have you tried the Testalonga wines? It’s a pretty sweeping statement to say that the attraction of ‘natural’ wines is as much moral as anything else. Couldn’t it be that some/many of those who buy them just really like the way they taste?

  4. Simon, Yes I have tasted them and many others. I was of course quoting Andrew Jefford and suggest you contact him if you disagree .

  5. The 2013 Cortez (sexy label) is electrifying. Utterly engaging and thought provoking wine. Craig is one of the nicest, most sincere guys you could meet and his dedication to these wines is so admirable.

  6. @ Simon: don’t worry – I’m sure many others also saw the “I agree” bit…

    As an aside, I fail to see why people get so emotional about natural wines. I like most of Craig’s wines, but some natural wines are just plain nasty to drink. The category offers such an array of different wines that I find it difficult to believe that true wine lovers can either approve or disapprove of the whole category. It’s almost like saying all Chardonnay is good or all Chardonnay is bad.

  7. @ Kwispedoor: I saw it too. OTOH, there are worse motivations for drinking a particular wine than morality. 🙂

  8. Why does the word natural ruffle so much feathers, why do people get so offended by the thought of some of us actually enjoying the intrigue, the discovery and the mystery that is natural wines. I reckon these wines should always be drank and rated in context and compared to nothing because it being natural is it being unique and once off, not a mold or blueprint for how wines should taste vintage after vintage… We all have different tastes and things that excite us, if its natural wines for me then it shouldn’t really bother the next guy drinking a beautifully balanced and complex burgundy. #attheendweallluvwine

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