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Van Duzer Chardonnay 1998

Chardonnay from Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • WS87
0% ABV
  • WS85
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0% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Elegant and creamy, this wine shows the true potential of Oregon Chardonnay. Rich, complex aromas of apples, pears and tropical fruit are supported by highlights of vanilla, clove and other spices. The aromas are mirrored in the mouth with full-bodied flavors of pear and tropical fruit and a core of refreshingly tart citrus fruit to provide a crisp, lingering finish.

Critical Acclaim

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WS 87
Wine Spectator
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Van Duzer

Van Duzer

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Van Duzer, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Image of winery
Proprietors Carl and Marilynn Thoma were among the first to choose the foothills at the mouth of the Van Duzer Corridor to create their family estate in 1998, intrigued by the potential of the microclimate and its ability to produce evocative Pinot Noir. Perched atop a knoll surrounded by vines on three sides, the site is situated in the gateway of the Corridor, a deep gap in the Oregon Coastal Range that draws brisk air from the Pacific Ocean into the Willamette Valley. The flagship estate’s 83.7 planted acres are in the direct path of marine winds, and benefit from the cooling gusts that moderate the temperatures over the vineyard, guaranteeing a long, beneficial growing season year after year.

The winery selected a zephyr, the gentle west wind of Greek mythology, as a symbol of the unique climate. 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. Van Duzer Vineyard’s goddess of the west wind, Zephyra, was brought to life by famed illustrator John Martinez. Best known for his fine arts posters depicting classical figures from works of Shakespeare and the opera, Martinez has also created dust covers for a wide range of book publishers. His work can be seen in the collections of the Library of Congress and Museum of Modern Art.

Willamette Valley

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One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a temperate climate moderated by a Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and even winter. Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant differences in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. The silty loess found in the Chehalem Mountains, somewhere in between the other two in texture, is fertile and well-draining but erodes easily, creating challenges for growers but necessitating careful vineyard management.

The celebrated Pinot Noir of the Willamette Valley typically offers supple red fruit, especially cranberry, without the powerful punch often packed by its California counterparts. Elegance is paramount here, and fruit flavors are balanced by forest floor, wild mushroom, and dried herbs—much more in line with Burgundian examples of the variety. Chardonnay too takes its inspiration from the French motherland, focusing on tart, crisp fruit and minerality, rarely relying upon heavy new oak. Pinot Gris here is fleshy and bright, and Riesling is dry, aromatic, and citrus-focused.

Chardonnay

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One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.

In the Glass

When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.

Perfect Pairings

Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.

Sommelier Secret

Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.

SWS88128_1998 Item# 10461