Our Den’s Block Riesling is a special wine for our entire team, and made to honour our dear friend and BC wine industry pioneer, Daniel Martin Dulik - affectionately known to his friends and peers as Den.
After Den’s passing in 2016, we knew we needed to make a wine to celebrate his contribution - not only to Tantalus, but to our industry as a whole.
Having owned and operated Pioneer Vineyards in South East Kelowna for several decades (where Tantalus now sits), Den established some of the earliest vinifera in Canada, planting Riesling sourced from the Weis family of Mosel's St. Urban-Hofs winery back in 1978. He then went on to plant parcels of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier in the mid-80’s, bucking the trend towards hybrids and experimenting with riskier, noble varieties at the time.
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We at Tantalus credit Den, along with his wife Pat and daughter Sue, with much of our early success, not only for laying the foundation for what we farm today, but for the immeasurable, sage advice he passed along over the years. From tying vines in the Spring, to tasting ferments with our winemaking team, to spending hours on the tractor mowing rows - Den was heavily involved in our operations and his wealth of farming knowledge has enriched our practices.
Anyone who crossed paths with him was touched by his sharp wit, infectious smile and caring heart and it is our privilege to continue his legacy of grape growing and winemaking on this piece of land today. We are honoured to pay tribute to him with a wine we are most certain he would have loved.
A pale gold in colour, our Den’s Block bottling is a very complex expression of Tantalus Riesling. Brimming with aromas of mandarin pith, spearmint, dried apricot and concentrated marmalade. Wet river rocks, dried leaves, lemon curd and pink peppercorn. A touch of minerality and “diesel” character has developed in the background as a result of its two year bottle rest in our cellar prior to release.
The palate is broad yet focused, with a myriad of flavours: lemon candy, lime and apricot tart tartine. Grilled pineapple balanced with a margarita salt minerality and complexity. A compelling wet moss and pink guava note supports the incredibly long finish.
The fruit for this 2018 Riesling was selected from a handful of rows of our Block 5, Clone 21B, 1978 Riesling plantings. Clusters were handpicked and upon reaching the cellar, gently whole-bunch pressed. Fermented wild, in neutral oak puncheons at 12 to 15 degrees Celsius.
Fermentation was then arrested in the first window of balance, paying homage to Den’s love of sweetness and made in a Mosel "Spätlese style", inspired by the origin of the parent material planted. Bottling occurred after five months on lees. The wine was then aged for two years in bottle before its release.
Varietal: 100% Riesling
Residual Sweetness: 53.0 g/L
Total Acidity: 9.90 g/L
A mild but long winter with lots of late-season snowfall delayed bud break by a few days compared to the long-term average and resulted in a slow start to the growing season. Once spring arrived, the vines switched gears and caught back up to a more normal pace by June.
Flowering took place under ideal conditions (dry and warm) and resulted in the potential for high yields, especially in our Chardonnay blocks. July brought us beautiful Okanagan summer conditions. A couple weeks of haze from wildfire smoke slowed the vines down in August and delayed veraison and subsequent ripening slightly.
Fortunately, our grapes and wines were not impacted by the smoke. Harvest began in early September and, thanks to cool, dry weather which allowed our grapes to ripen gently, lasted until the end of October.