It’s a truism that great wines are made in the vineyard. Our north-south orientation means the vines enjoy plentiful light and warmth. Our location on an island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf means a long growing season, allowing red wine grapes in particular to reach their full potential.
We are devoted to producing small batch Bordeaux and Rhone style reds of the highest quality in limited quantities.
The original plantings, in 1998, were 3.7ha of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. In 2002, the then owners planted 1.8ha of syrah, merlot, malbec, chardonnay and pinot gris.
In 2013 we identified underperforming areas in the vineyard and replanted 0.9ha in new, high quality cabernet and syrah clones.
Tantalus Vineyard comprises a selection of varieties and clones to spread the risk from bad weather events while increasing wine complexity due to slight changes in aspect and soil type.Our philosophy ensures that high quality clones on low-cropping rootstocks yield on average, only 32 hectolitres (3200 litres) per hectare, enabling production of densely concentrated, complex wines.
Our vineyard and winery are fully sustainable. Our aim is, in every way, to reduce our impact on the environment and enhance biodiversity.
We’ve planted 3000m2 of wildflowers to increase biodiversity and the size of beneficial insect populations, such as parasitic wasps and ladybirds. They help control pests such as mealybugs and negate the use of pesticides. Without pesticides beneficial insects thrive, helping to eliminate pest species.
In addition, our non-pesticide policy keeps our beehives happy and healthy.
Chris joined the Tantalus Estate team from the outset and his experience in the Onetangi Valley was crucial to the redevelopment of the vineyard. He came on board after 10 years as viticulturalist at our neighbouring globally respected winery Stonyridge.
Chris has a degree in international business and a post graduate diploma in wine science. His experience encompasses restaurants and hospitality in New Zealand. He spent eight years establishing and operating multiple businesses in Japan. Upon his return to New Zealand, together with his wife Kanae they established a tour company – Island Wine.
Chris is responsible for all vineyard and estate management, working seamlessly with Alex to create our distinctive Tantalus Estate wine style. A passionate advocate of biodiversity and sustainability, Chris played a key role in obtaining the Sustainable Vineyard and Winery accreditations for Tantalus Estate.
Our winemaking philosophy is to make wines of great distinction standing proudly on the world stage.
Our hand-crafted blends are complex and interesting, concentrated and textural, destined to age, slowly evolving into elegant wines. Ripe fruit, balanced acidity, finely grained tannins and a judicious use of premium oak culminate in wines of great structure and length.
Quality decisions begin in the vineyard with hand-selection of the best grape clusters row by row. Within 15 minutes of being harvested, the grapes reach the winery where they are weighed and sorted once more by hand. We use 10kg bins to avoid crushing and juicing.
The grapes go through a slow controlled fermentation and maceration before being basket pressed and gently transferred to a range of French oak barriques. Unfined and lightly filtered, our finished wines are sealed under natural cork, allowing continuing evolution in the bottle.
Bordeaux varieties comprise Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and the seldom seen Carménère.
Strict appellation controls in France necessitate two or more of these varieties to be blended together. Bordeaux blends are known for aromas and flavours such as cassis, blackberry, dark cherry, vanilla, black cherry, coffee bean, spice and liquorice. The wines are often concentrated, powerful, firm and tannic. Quality Bordeaux blends can appear to be austere in character in their youth and benefit from ageing.
Our Northern Rhone style red is made from 100% Syrah. This variety is often blended together with viognier. Syrah produces deeply coloured and concentrated rich red wines with the ability to age and evolve for years, or even decades. Typical aromas and flavours include blackberries, plums, black cherries, flowers, spice, earth, chocolate, liquorice, blueberry, pepper and truffles. Many of these secondary qualities develop as the wine ages.
New Zealand Pinot Gris has mouth-filling, rich and refreshing earthy stone pear and apple flavours. It’s now the third most popular white wine variety among local wine drinkers and with good reason. At its best, Pinot Gris can be an invigorating blend of ripe fruit flavours coupled with surprising backbone and length.
Our winery is fully accredited under the New Zealand Sustainable Winegrowing Programme. Accreditation is awarded to wineries demonstrating and continually striving to protect the environment while efficiently and economically producing premium wines.
We are part of the New Zealand Wine Standard Management Programme that ensures best winemaking practices and the health and safety of our staff, alongside the ability to trace our wines from vine to bottle.
All Tantalus wines are Export Certified, representing the very best New Zealand wines.
Elegance and subtlety characterise boutique wine production. Limited quantities of these high quality wines require fine adjustments, vital when pursuing excellence. Our task is to choreograph each component of production, involving water, sugars, aromatic esters, enzymes, yeast, bacteria, the weather and the people who help craft the wines.
Alex’s Spanish and Italian heritage and his international experience contribute immensely to his winemaking and brewing skills.
He grew up in Argentina surrounded by his country’s famous varietal Malbec, Spain’s hugely complex Pedro Ximenez and the enigmatic Sangiovese dominant blends of Chianti Classico.
He is a qualified food scientist, award-winning winemaker, and brewer, holding many certificates and diplomas in wine, advanced viticulture and microbiology. His passion for continuous education has inspired him to pursue the most prestigious wine qualification in the world – to become a Master of Wine.
Following ten vintages honing his winemaking skills, Alex travelled to the US and became fascinated with the craft beer revolution. That, and a season in London, was an awe-inspiring introduction to the complex world of real ales, European malts, American hops and Belgian yeasts. His modus operandi remains “vintage every autumn for grapes, and vintage every week for grains”.
Alex works in the winery with Chris and in the brewery with Bernard Neate, our Head Brewer and oversees our onsite microbiology laboratory. He is dedicated to making “outstanding wines, from vine to bottle”.
In addition Alex is working on brine-infused cheeses, mushrooms, chocolates and limoncellos. He manages Tantalus Estate beehives, tucked away in our native bush, beside the merlot-syrah block, which seasonally produces our unique and very precious honey.