Since 1997, Tantara has been dedicated to producing the very finest Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. Located in the beautiful Santa Maria Valley (Santa Barbara County), their wines are sourced from top Central Coast growers and single vineyards such as, Dierberg, Rio Vista, Bentrock, Talley Rincon, La Colline (Laetitia), Lindsay’s, Tondre, Zotovich and Brosseau. Tantara’s dedication to quality and detail has kept production levels low and to the utmost standards.
California’s Central Coast, from Santa Barbara to Monterey is blessed with ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A long growing season with abundant sunshine for sugar production but enough cool nights and foggy mornings for color extraction and complex flavors, gives us the opportunity to work with some of the best fruit in the world. It is our goal that this bounty of nature be transformed into great wine.For Pinot Noir, the fruit is de-stemmed and fermented in open top vats. We use both native yeasts and prepared yeast culture to add complexity. Punch down is by traditional methods. After the primary fermentation, the wine is pressed and put into French Oak barrels where it undergoes a secondary or malolactic fermentation. The wine is racked after ML is complete and left undisturbed until it is assembled and bottled, unfined and unfiltered. We believe this style of winemaking lets the fruit achieve its full potential, giving wine that is seductive in the short term, while allowing the development of aromatic and flavor complexities with bottle age.For Chardonnay, the fruit is whole cluster pressed, the juice settled then put into French Oak barrels. Both primary and malolactic fermentation occur in barrel. The lees are stirred occasionally until ML is finished, then the wine rests sur lie (on its lees) for 10 – 12 months until it is bottled. The style of winemaking we employ for Chardonnay creates enough forward fruit to make it accessible upon release, but with a structure that allows it to improve and gain complexity in the bottle.
ORIGIN OF A NAME
Tantara was the name of a horse owned by Bill Cates some years ago. After Tantara was retired to pasture, she defied predictions of an imminent demise and lived to a ripe old age. Horses symbolize elegance, grace and power and in Tantara’s case, long life, all of which are qualities we embrace for our wine.
BOTTLING & RELEASING
At Tantara we like to bottle our wines in January or early February when the weather is cool and the moon just right — not too full because a full moon stirs up the wine too much. Then we give the wines some time to recover from “bottle shock” which occurs after bottling. Think about all those contented flavor molecules swimming around in a big sixty gallon French oak barrel for many months. Then one day they are crammed into a 750ml glass bottle.
In early Spring we evaluate all of our wines to decide which wines to release early in the year and which to hold back until Fall. We release half of those wines in April during our Spring events. We hold the other wines back until October when we celebrate some more.
Because Pinot Noir present such a wide flavor profile and different vineyards offer so many expressions of this grape, it inspires us to seek Pinot fruit from some of the best Pinot growing areas in California. And so we source from the Santa Maria Valley and from Santa Rita Hills both in Santa Barbara County. We source fruit from San Luis Obispo County and on up to Monterey County where we have found three or four vineyards that consistently produce fruit we love to work with. Variety like this makes the good life even better. I’m sure you agree.
A FEW TANTARA WINES CURRENTLY AVILABLE
Wine Spectrum 94+: The 2013 Dierberg Pinot is filled with dense red raspberry and cherry cola overtones. This is followed by hints of orange peel and a nice spicy, smokey finish. 218 cases produced.
Wine Spectrum 94+: ‘Evelyn’s Reserve’ is the flagship Tantara cuvee of select barrels representing the pinnacle of each vintage. Named in memory of Evelyn Waldron, mother of owner Bill Cates, a beautiful, gracious woman whose generosity and faith helped make Tantara Winery a reality. It exhibits those characteristics that make a wine great – balance, suppleness, elegance and mystery. The primary vineyard sites are Dierberg and Tondre H Block. Exceptionally aromatic with a richness of fruit such as strawberry and raspberry supported by ripe tannins, it has density with finesse, and lingering finish. Aged for 16 months in French oak barrels, using 60% new oak. 75 cases made.
2010 Tantara ‘Pisoni Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
Wine Spectrum 95+: From the famed Santa Lucia Highlands vineyard, considered one of the best in California. It’s a distinct representation of this cool climate and unique mountainous AVA. The Tantara Pisoni Vineyard is a melange of white flowers, mint, blackberries and cassis fruit, following through in the flavors of this deep ruby/purple colored beauty. Full fruit, luscious, great structure and well-balanced acidity….this is certainly a wine that will be enjoyable now but can be cellared for the next 7-10 years. 253 cases produced.
2012 Tantara ‘Tondre H Block’ Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
Wine Spectrum 95: Medium Ruby in color, the 2013 Tondre Pinot offers heavy earth notes shrouded with cherry, raspberry and rhubarb and finishing long with fine grained tannins. 143 cases produced.