The Tantalus Vineyards and tasting room overlooks mountains, terraced vines and Lake Okanagan. The winery in East Kelowna is an authentic estate producer, using grapes only from its contiguous vineyards. The anchor vineyard here is Pioneer Vineyards which has been farmed with vines since 1927. It is just two years younger than the Sperling family’s Pioneer Ranch, which is nearby and which is the oldest vineyard in the Okanagan farmed continuously by the same family. The Tantalus property was farmed for much of its history by the Dulik family who started a winery here in 1997, called Pinot Reach Cellars. It has been owned since 2004 by Vancouver investment dealer Eric Savics, who rebranded it to Tantalus. Tantalus may derive it’s name from the legendary Greek king who for his crimes was condemned in Hades to stand in water that receded when he tried to drink, and with fruit hanging above him that receded when he reached for it. It could also stand for a case in which bottles may be locked with their contents tantalizingly visible!
David Paterson is Tantalus’ winemaker. David is a Kiwi with a Canadian connection, having been born in Vancouver. David received his winemaking degree from Lincoln University NZ and spent working in the local industry. He travelled the wine world gaining experience at premium wineries in Oregon, France & Australia. Although David is well-acquainted with other grape varietals, in his words, he’d “be quite happy making Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for the rest of my life.” Prior to joining Tantalus, David was working with celebrated South Australian producer Henschke Cellars ( I spent many happy hours in the Barossa Valley sipping a big and bold Henschke shiraz when we visited OZ.)
Vintage 2015: I was fortunate to be able to talk to David about the latest Vintage. 2015 was a hot summer but the mitigating factor for the colder weather grapes such as Riesling was that the vines “shutdown” when the temperature is over 35C. This together with harvesting early meant they were able to maintain the freshness of the fruit and manage the alcohol level in the wines but produce a bolder wine with more fruit extraction. The vintage should be more like 2010 than 2013. The warmer than average temperatures also meant a higher fruit crop so the production should increase to 9500 cases including 400 cases of O V Riesling, 3000 cases Riesling and 2000 cases Pinot Noir.
Here are some reviews of the exceptional Tantalus wines:
Tantalus Old Vines Riesling 2011 (150 cases). This wine is a little drier and a great deal more intense than the “regular” Riesling because the fruit comes from a two-acre block of Riesling planted in 1978. The wine has developed the classic aromas and flavours sometimes called petrol. Citrus and green apple flavours mingle with minerality on a rich palate. The wine competes with Sperling Vineyards for the title of the best Old Vines Riesling in the Okanagan. Source John Schreiner.
Tantalus Pinot Noir 2012. A lovely lifted perfume defines this vintage. Aromas of violets and raspberry compote give way to a touch of earth and a hint of spice. The palate shows both power and delicacy with flavours of brambleberry, chokecherry and plum. Firm, yet forgiving tannins sculpt the mouth feel and offer a lingering finish.
I am really looking forward to sampling the 2015 vintage. If you are visiting Kelowna, a stop at Tantalus Winery this spring or summer is a must.