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And Tantalus never ever puts anything on sale
Sometimes nice things happen to nice people.
Last Wednesday I was polishing off my final bottle of Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier Piquette when I moseyed over to Tantalus wines website to see about replenishing the supply. It was a typical early Spring visit to the Tantalus site, in that almost everything is sold out: the amazing Old Vines Riesling, all their Chards, almost all of the Pinots…long gone. But as I scrolled to the bottom of the screen I noticed a glitch in the matrix—not only were their three piquettes available, but they were $8.70. As in 8 dollars and 70 cents. As in almost half the price of the cheapest BC VQA wine at the BCLDB.
So like the dirtball I am, I immediately ordered two cases. And then—after that—sent an email to the winery making sure that it was not a mistake and, to be truthful, to ask if they minded if I blabbed about this deal to you. Again, all of this was after I secured my two cases. They laughed and said “sure” with a confidence that only a winery who’s long sold out of most of their wine and never marks down their bottles can.
So before you hop on the site and buy up the remaining stock, let’s just have a quick talk about piquette, the official drink of cool kids everywhere, that despite my better judgement, I sorta love. It’s technically not a wine in that it’s not made by fermenting grapes. It’s made by mixing water with the pomace—ie the grape skins, seeds that are left after actual wine is made. I know it sounds a bit gross and the word pomace ain’t sexy, but the result is a low alcohol (Tantalus’ is 7.5%) slightly fizzy drink that’s akin to a spritzer. If you do much reading on the drink’s history you find a lot of references to it being the drink of farmhands, vineyard workers and if you go all the way back to ancient Rome, enslaved people.
All of which was the perfect recipe for it to become the it drink for the “I only drink natural wine” crowd, given that it’s both broadly an environmentally friendly product (in that the pomace is being reused) and frequently has the slightly sharp, occasionally funky flavour profile that mirrors the palette of many low intervention wines. In theory it’s a win-win…right up until wineries starting charging more than $20 for it. And selling out at these prices. And if you pay more than $20 for a bottle of piquette, you have a flipping hole in your head.
Tantalus, to be fair fair only charged $17.50 for their three versions (the aforementioned Pinot/Pinot, a Gewurztraminer/Chardonnay and a Riesling) and it’s beyond me how it didn’t sell out given that it’s made by one of the best winemaking teams in the country, who use the pomace from some of the best grapes in the country. My gut tells me that not being vocally in the natural wine camp probably has something to do with this, given that when you think piquette, I suppose the name Tantalus wouldn’t be your first thought.
But it’s easily among the best BC piquettes I’ve tasted, and the price is legitimately insane—the bottle probably costs $1, but because piquette is meant to be consumed very young, they just want it drunk. You’d have a hole in your head if you didn’t oblige.
And here’s where you can buy it.
Are you over 18 years of age?