Van Duzer Pinot Noir Rosé 2017, Willamette Valley
Cost: $19-21
I f you haven’t had a rosé lately, now would be a good time to try one. It seems like ever-growing numbers of wine drinkers have discovered the joys of a dry rosé.
Check out your favorite wine shop and you will see many more rosés on the shelves than ever before. Part of that is because more people are making rosé, but also the wine they are making is better than ever, so it sells better.
Some winemakers are even growing particular grapes just because they make such wonderful rosé.
The Van Duzer Pinot Noir Rosé is an excellent example of the wine being made today. It is a gorgeous peachy pink in the glass with lush fruit aromas, primarily strawberries and raspberries. It is a dry, crisp wine, loaded with flavors of raspberry and strawberry, with some mineral notes.
It has a rich mouthfeel with a balancing splash of acidity leading to an elegant finish. This is a wine for many occasions, from sipping on the porch to picnics to elegant meals. It comes with a convenient twist-off cap.
The bottle features a distinctive art deco label depicting Van Duzer Vineyard’s goddess of the west wind, Zephyra. It was designed by John Martinez, best known for his fine arts posters depicting classical figures from works of Shakespeare and the opera.
The grapes are 100 percent pinot noir, 75 percent from the Van Duzer Estate Vineyard and 25 percent from the Wadenswil Vineyard, both in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Each block of fruit is handled separately in the winery by winemaker Florent Pierre Merlier and his crew. This helps preserve the fruit character of each clone.
This is a perfect wine for when you want to taste pinot noir, but warm weather makes you want to shift away from a red wine. This tastes like a light pinot, full of the wonderful fruit flavors you get in a good pinot noir.
Winery: Carl and Marilynn Thoma were pioneers in the foothills at the mouth of the Van Duzer Corridor when they created their family estate in 1998. Sitting on the top of a knoll surrounded by vines on three sides it looked like the perfect site to produce blockbuster pinot noir.
They were right. The corridor is a deep gap in the Oregon Coastal Range that lets in brisk, moist air from the Pacific Ocean, drawing it into the Willamette Valley. The estate’s 83.7 planted acres are right in the path of the winds that cool the vineyards during the hot summer.
After producing consistently high quality grapes, in 2006 they built a winery with a 20,000 case capacity. It includes many small fermenters to allow the wine making team more flexibility in handling various blocks of grapes. It is built partially in a hillside, letting the cellar maintain consistent temperatures.
Design features that minimize the use of energy include a cooling roof, cooling fans and superior insulation. It was one of the first LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) certified wineries in Oregon. The winery supports many sustainability initiatives.
The cellar design fits with winemaker Merlier’s philosophy of gentle handling and dealing with each lot of grapes separately. Even within the same vineyard block grapes picked on different days are processed individually. Each year that could mean 50 to 100 lots of wine, each handled as if it were a reserve wine.
The complexity of finished wine is enhanced by barrels produced by more than 15 different coopers and various yeast strains to bring out aroma, color, flavor, mouthfeel, acid and tannin levels.
The winery chose a zephyr, the gentle west wind of Greek mythology, as a symbol of the unique climate in the Van Duzer Corridor. According to Greek legend, zephyr and other wind gods were commanded by Aeolus, king of the winds, for which the Eola Hills wine region east of Van Duzer Vineyards is named.
Carl Thoma grew up on his family’s cattle ranch and took an interest in the California wine industry during his graduate school days. He built a portfolio of California vineyards during the 1990s before moving his attention to Oregon. He was a successful venture capitalist in Chicago where he has managed a succession of private equity funds before establishing his winery.
Marilynn Thoma oversees Van Duzer’s marketing efforts, drawing on her brand management experience at Quaker Oats and Cellular Network. She also holds a B.S. from Oklahoma State and an MBA from Stanford.
The Thomas have created the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation as a way to share their art collection and support educational opportunities and scholarships for understudied areas of art.  
The winery produces several single vineyard pinots and pinot blends, chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot blanc, riesling, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and port.
Micheala enjoyed the turkey while Michael also liked the rosé.
Goes with: We had this tasty wine with a grilled turkey breast, and it was an outstanding pairing. I rubbed the turkey with Morton Nature’s Seasons and a few other herbs to add some flavor.
I love turkey all year long, not just at Thanksgiving. Grocery stores make it easy now. You don’t always have to buy a whole turkey. You can buy a package of legs, or thighs or a full breast. Sometimes I use the meat for soup, or on the grill.
The turkey took longer to cook on the grill than I had anticipated so we had to sip some of the wine waiting for the turkey to finish cooking, and this rosé was a great sipping wine.
When the turkey was finally done, the wine was even better. The fruity notes and crisp acidity matched the savory turkey flavors wonderfully.
I added mashed potatoes, gravy and peas to complete the meal. I served mine with a slice of bread as an open-faced sandwich. It brought back fond memories of sitting at a Woolworth’s counter eating lunch with my mother and grandmother.
This wine would pair well with a wide variety of foods, from hearty seafood dishes to grilled chicken, fried chicken, veal chops and rich cheeses. Serve it well chilled.

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