852 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2020
In this column, we review some of B.C.’s “prestige” wines. They have
been chosen because they reflect, at least in part, the ascendancy of B.C.
wine in terms of its quality and its ability to faithfully express its origin—
that hard-to-define combination of soil, climate and place. They also exemplify
what Spurrier says about the confluence of Old World and New World
viticulture and winemaking.
We apologize in advance for some of the price tags on the wines that we
reviewed for this article. But our readers must realize that winemaking in this
province is expensive. All of the input costs, from the price of land to the cost
of labour, are high. Vineyard owners, after acquiring and planting their rootstock,
wait years to harvest their first crop and additional months or years to
bring their product to market. During that waiting time they continue to
incur expenses. Owners commonly suffer annual cash calls long before they
receive any return on their investment. And, as we have noted before in
these pages, the government then takes a healthy sip of each glass, driving
the retail price skyward. But every now and then, a winemaker achieves
something special, and the owners are then faced with the delicate task of setting
the price for that bottle of wine, balancing the desire to finally be
rewarded for their efforts with the limitations of what the market will bear.
We also apologize to all of the producers whose wines we were not able
to review for this article, for there are so many great wines that we did not
have the chance (or the budget) to taste.
We begin our journey in Kelowna and move progressively southward, finishing
in the desert-like climate found between Oliver and Osoyoos. When
you’re next in the Okanagan, you may wish to follow this path and try some
of the wines we have reviewed.
Situated in East Kelowna on a property that was first planted in the 1920s is
Tantalus Vineyards. The property was purchased by Eric Savics in 2004,
and since then the attention to quality has come through in spades in this
producer’s various offerings. For us, the star of the lineup is one of its entry
level wines, the Tantalus Riesling 2019 ($21). In a wine-drinking world
obsessed with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling has become the
forgotten grape, even though it produces some of the best and most ageworthy
white wine in the world. The Tantalus version is a beautiful expression
of what Riesling has to offer. There is expressive citrus fruit and crisp
acidity in this wine that makes it not only a refreshing patio sipper, but also
a wine that pairs well with shellfish, oysters or a plate of charcuterie. It’s a
wine that can be enjoyed right now or with several years of aging.