2017 Testalonga El Bandito Monkey Gone to Heaven

Swartland, South Africa

Mourvèdre (aka Monastrell) is a full-bodied and rustic wine that originated in Spain. Rumor has it that the seafaring Phoenicians brought it over as early as 500 B.C. Mourvèdre is used quite often as a blending grape in popular wines such as Châteauneuf du Pape. It’s one of the major grapes of the Rhône along with Grenache and Syrah (GSM).

It wasn’t until the late 1980’s-90’s that the worlds export market opened themselves up to South African wine. This was due to the system of Apartheid. In the 1990’s less than 30% of all wine produced was put towards the consumer market. Most of the grape production was for Brandy, table grapes and juice.

Testalonga was started in 2008 by Craig and Carla Hawkins. Craig is nominated as South Africa’s “Natural Wine King”. They are based in the Swartland region of South Africa.  Swartland is north of the Paarl district and surrounded by mountains. Craig and Carla strive to make wine from grapes and nothing else. This vineyard was planted in 2001. The Mourvèdre is fermented in whole-clusters for 10 days. There are also only 167 cases made! This wine is spontaneously fermented. It’s unfined and unfiltered with low sulfites. Although Mourvèdre is typically meaty and full bodied, this wine is medium bodied, fresh and juicy. Cherries, cranberries, raspberry, spice and smooth tannins.

It’s the perfect red wine for the summer!

This wine is an homage to the band The Pixies and Monkey Gone to Heaven is a track off their 1989 album Doolittle. The label is a picture taken from Craig’s friend Kevin Short at The Burning Man festival. The main theme of the song is environmentalism and confusion of a man’s place in the universe. I’m a big Pixies fan and definitely nerded out about this wine when it hit the shelves here at Bricks.