Tantalus
Part 4 of a series on the Okanagan Valley, a remarkable wine region in British Columbia, Canada

Website: http://tantalus.ca/

It was glorious summer’s afternoon when I visited Tantalus, whose vineyard is enviably positioned above the lake, with lovely views. Eric Savics, a stockbroker, bought the property in 2003, which had previously been known as Pinot Reach Cellars. Savics made a lot of changes in 2004, and the first Tantalus release was 2oo5.

The history of the Tantalus property goes back to 1927 when the Pioneer Vineyard was established, planted with Vitis lambrusca varieties. The vineyard was then bought by Marin Dulik, who as vineyard manager was allowed to buy it in stages from the then owner in the 1940s. Dulik sold the crop as both wine and table grapes.


Looking up to the winery, built in 2010

In 1978, Marin's son Den Dulik began planting vinifera, and one of the vineyards he planted was with Riesling. This vineyard, which is one of the oldest vinifera vineyards in Canada, is planted with Clone 21 from St Urbanshof. This forms the backbone of Tantalus' most famous wine: the old vine Riesling. In 1983 Dulik planted some Clone 93 Pinot Noir from Germany, which is now used to make sparkling with (it's not a great still Pinot Noir clone). His daughter Susan began selling wines from the property under the Pinot Reach label in 1997.

The focus now is solely on Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They are grown in 9 blocks, totalling 37 acres. Soils are mainly silt over gravels.

I visited with winemaker David Paterson (above), Canadian born but brought up in New Zealand, and with winemaking experience in New Zealand, Oregon, France and Australia. He says that he picks on acid and is happy to chaptalize if needed: if you add acid it doesn’t change in the wine, but if you add sugar it is fermented by the yeast. If he does add sugar, he does it at 4 brix with lots of air around, which results in more glycerol and better mouthfeel.

THE WINES

Tantalus Juveniles Pinot Noir 2012 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Young vines: the first crop from the new block. Juicy and bright with lovely sweet cherry and berry fruit. Supple with nice texture. Juicy and attractive. 89/100

Tantalus Pinot Noir 2011 Okanagan Valley, Canada
The last of the German clone 93 went into this: it’s now used for sparkling. Vivid and quite tannic with nice black cherry fruit and some spice. Good texture and purity. Sweet and dense. 91/100

Tantalus Chardonnay 2012 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Taut, nutty and precise with some spiciness. Lean and quite powerful with keen acidity and savoury notes. 89/100

Tantalus Chardonnay 2011 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Savoury and nutty with nice texture and some spiciness, as well as citrus and pear fruit. Nice acidity and an intense core of lemon and minerals. Really interesting. 91/100

Tantalus Rosé 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Pinot Meunier and young vine Pinot Noir, 9 days on skins, with no malo. This starts out deeply coloured but then loses a lot of it. Cherry fruit with a bit of grip and some pear and spice notes. Textured and rounded. 88/100

Tantalus Riesling 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Young vines with just a bit of old vine fruit, made to taste: this has 10.5 g acid, 15 g sugar and a pH of 2.85. Lively and focused with lovely pear and citrus fruit and some grapiness. Keen acidity with a hint of sweetness. Fabulous. 91/100

Tantalus Riesling ‘Hard Pressings’ 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada
The pressings are taken: dirty brown juice, which then goes to barrel, and the result is this wine. Lovely citrus and apple nose is quite floral. The palate is sweetly fruity with textured pear fruit. Nice weight: a lovely wine. 92/100

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Very lively with apples, citrus and pear, as well as some herbal tones. The palate is precise with great acidity and good concentration. Notes of minerals and herbs. Dry with keen acid and real intensity. 93/100

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling 2008 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Keen and precise with high acidity and notes of lemons and herbs. Dry, focused and linear with high acidity. 92/100

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling 2006 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Lovely precision here. Great acidity and lively apple, pear and citrus fruit. Just a hint of creaminess. Very pure with remarkable precision. 93/100

Tantalus Riesling Ice Wine 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada
16.5 g acidity and 240 g sugar! Lively, fresh and grapey with intensely sweet peach and pear fruit. Viscous with incredible acidity. 93/100

Tantalus Syrah Ice Wine 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada
13 g acidity and 240 g sugar. Pink with a hint of orange. Sweet with cherries and grapes, as well as pear and citrus. Viscous and intense with high acidity and lovely purity. 92/100

OKANAGAN VALLEY
Introduction
Mission Hill
Haywire
Tantalus
TH Wines
Cedar Creek
Blue Mountain
Bartier Bros
Painted Rock

See also:

Visiting Ontario's wine regions, Canada (series)


Wines tasted 06/14  
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