2020 Bear Chardonnay

With a nod to Tantalus proprietor Eric Savics’ eldest son Eric Jr., affectionately known to many over the years as “Bear”, this wine was crafted from our youngest blocks and made in a crisp and lively style.

Pale yellow in colour, with aromas of ripe apple, candied lemon zest and melons, complemented by oyster shell, fresh cut white flowers and a hint of almond. The palate is fresh and mineral with just enough textural weight to add intrigue. Honeydew melon and fresh lemon, with the pith and all, ripe Granny-Smith apple and a touch of marmalade add lovely complexity.

Our Bear Chardonnay has quietly emerged as a fan favourite for good reason. It‘s approachable, fruit-forward and a versatile food companion.

Fruit for this wine was sourced from our young gun Chardonnay block, planted in 2013 and was handpicked and vinified in small lots using entirely wild fermentation. The wine was crafted in neutral French barrels, ensuring the purity of the fruit was maintained with just a wisp of oak present. Clonal selection: 76, 95 & 548


Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 13.1%
Residual Sweetness: 1.7 g/L 
pH: 3.32
Total Acidity: 6.9 g/L


The 2020 vintage will be remembered as a small but mighty one, in a year we will of course never forget. Although challenging, it gifted us some of the best quality fruit we have seen in years. Mirroring the winter of 2019, a cold snap of under -20 C in late February harmed several vines and buds but fortunately damage was not as extensive as the previous year. Above average rainfall in May charged the soil with water and gave the vines everything they needed to hit the ground running after bud break. A period of cool and wet weather in early July coincided with flowering, unfortunately resulting in uneven berry set across the property.

Summer was about as good as the vineyard crew could have hoped for: lots of sunshine, warm temperatures but not too much excessive heat. Vine growth caught up but we eased into harvest a week later than usual, in the second week of September. Luckily, smoky skies on the early days of harvest quickly dissipated so that we enjoyed clear days for the remainder of harvest. Dry conditions and mild temperatures allowed us to pick each block at perfect maturity. Unlike in previous years, the first frost (and snow!) did not arrive until late October, and we escaped harvesting our last bunches in whiteout conditions by only 12 hours!