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Tantalus, Riesling, Canada 2021


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    British Columbia

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  • Winemaker:

    David Paterson

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A delicate yellow/green hue in the glass, the aromatics are bright and perfumed. Orchard fruits abound with pronounced notes of peach, white flowers and clover. The palate is classic Tantalus with great presence and concentration. A layered complexity of lemon oil, mandarin orange, red apple skin with a core of citrus zest. An intriguing salinity is present in this release, tying to the emerging minerality beautifully. These Rieslings are built to age and this release is no different. Enjoy it in its youth or watch it evolve over the years.
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This, their flagship Riesling, is a BC classic for a very good reason. From plots around their Kelowna estate vineyard, including some dating back to their 1978 old vine plantings, this was harvested in two batches (Oct 7 and 23), whole bunch pressed, with each parcel fermented separately in stainless before being blended.

Tantalus is based in Kelowna, looking down onto the lake. 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 2005.

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. 

In 1978, Marin’s son Den Dulik began planting vinifera, and one of the vineyards he planted was with Riesling. It was with the Clone 21B Riesling, and the inspiration for this was Dr Helmut Becker, as this was part of his famous experimental trials. Becker, a professor from Germany’s famous Geisenheim research institute, visited the valley in 1976. He was blown away by the potential of the Okanagan, particularly for white wine production. Yet at the time it was all hybrid vines. In what became known as the ‘Becker Project’, he oversaw the importation and planting of some 27 different vinifera varieties, including this Riesling clone, which has done very well.

Tantalus is therefore one of the oldest vinifera vineyards in Canada. Clone 21B from St Urbanshof 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 at Tantalus is now solely on Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They are grown in 9 blocks, totalling 37 acres. Soils are mainly silt over gravels.

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