Friday, June 8, 2018

Tantalus Reserve Pinot Noir: stunning wine, stunning label

 Photo: Tantalus winemaker David Paterson

This spring’s releases from Tantalus Vineyards are impressive across the board – notably so with the flagship Old Vines Riesling and with a first time Pinot Noir Reserve.

The Tantalus property is among the oldest in East Kelowna. It was one of several that were planted in the late 1920s by J.W. Hughes, who later sold them to his foremen. The foreman who bought this property was Martin Dulik. In 1997, his granddaughter, Susan Dulik, opened a winery called Pinot Reach Cellars.

In 2004, the Dulik family sold the winery and the vineyard to Eric Savics, a Vancouver investment dealer. He re-launched the winery as Tantalus Vineyards, built a new winery and replanted parts of the vineyard, with an added focus on Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Throughout its 90 years, this vineyard arguably has never had as much TLC as it has from the current owner, who farms it sustainably. No herbicides and no pesticides are used and nutrient additions are organic.

In his notes on the spring release wines, winemaker and general manager David Paterson observes: “Our honey bee apiary is thriving and we’re amazed at the diversity of resident species that can be found on our property – a true testament for us to the health of our site.”

The branding of the wines made in the Savics era has always included labels featuring masks carved by artist Dempsey Bob, a renowned Tahltan/Tlingit artist. Eric began collecting his art before he acquired the winery.

The current release includes the winery’s first reserve Pinot Noir. In part, the wine pays tribute to the winery’s relationship with the artist. The bottle features a gold mask by Dempsey Bob. If you check the value of his art, this will not be a bottle you will consign to the recycling bin.

Here are notes on the wines. Prices exclude taxes.

Tantalus Riesling 2017 ($21.74). The wine begins with aromas of jasmine, beeswax, citrus and green apple, leading to flavours of grapefruit, ripe apple and peaches. The wine is finished just off-dry, with the residual sugar being nicely balanced with acidity. The wine is already approachable but will develop even more complexity with aging. 91.

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling 2015 ($30.35). This legendary Riesling is made a block of vines planted in 1978. Laden with minerals, the wine expresses the terroir superbly. A hint of petrol mingles with aromas of lemon zest. The layered flavours include stone fruit, lime, apple and mandarin, with a hint of apricot pit, almond and slate on the finish. The wine is balanced to finish dry. Approachable now, it will age superbly. 94.

Tantalus Juveniles Chardonnay 2017 ($19.13). The wine is so-called because the fruit is from a six-year-old Chardonnay planting. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and neutral barrels and has a Chablis-like brightness of aroma and flavour. There are aromas of pear, apple and quince, leading for flavours of apple and grapefruit. 90.

Tantalus Rosé 2017 ($19.13). This is 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier. (The winery’s Pinot Meunier block was planted in 1985.) The hue is pale rose petals – a bit surprising when the technical data indicates there was six days of skin contact with the Pinot Meunier. However, the Pinot Noir was just pressed lightly. The wine has delicate aromas and flavours of cherry and raspberry. The wine is crisp and dry on the finish. 90.

Tantalus Blanc de Noir 2015 ($27.83). This wine is based on fruit from a 1985 Pinot Noir block. The wine was fermented and aged six months in neutral oak. Secondary fermentation was in bottle, with this wine being disgorged this spring. The wine begins with an active mousse. The bubbles account for the lush creamy texture of the wine. The bisquity and citrus aromas lead to mouth-filling fruit flavours. With just 11.7% alcohol, this is a great summer sipper. 90

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling Brut 2015 ($34.78). Only 200 cases of this wine were made, largely because of the limited quantity of grapes from that 1978 planting. The wine has a fine, delicate mousse and aromas of grapefruit and brioche. On the palate, the flavours of apple and citrus mingle with minerals and brioche. The finish is fresh and crisp. 92.

Tantalus Reserve Pinot Noir 2015 ($60.87). This wine, made largely from a single clone (667) of 10-year-old Pinot Noir, is the first reserve Pinot Noir from this winery. And what a way to come from the gate! The wine, dark in colour, also includes some clone 115 and 828 Pinot Noir. There are cherry aromas mingled with spice and herbs. It takes the palate by storm, with intense fruit flavours and savoury herbs on the finish. The silky tannins give the wine great elegance. 95.

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