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Van Duzer Vineyards

Named after the only gap in the north-south Oregon Coast Mountain Range, the Van Duzer Corridor, Van Duzer Vineyards has achieved impressive success of late under the direction of winemaker Florent “Flo” Merlier. Flo is a native of Burgundy, France, who has a Diploma in Viticulture from the University of Dijon. He relocated to the United States in 2009, and joined Van Duzer Vineyards as winemaker with the 2011 vintage. With his efforts, Van Duzer wines have now reached the upper echelon among Willamette Valley wineries. Flo and I are pictured below on my recent visit.

Van Duzer Vineyards is located 60 miles south of Portland and west of the Eola Hills and Salem in Dallas. Because the vineyards are in the eastern mouth of the Van Duzer Corridor, summer temperatures drop sooner in the afternoon than in the vineyards to the North or south by 13 degrees, resulting in extended hang time.

The estate vineyards total 82 acres including Pommard, Wädenswil, and Dijon clones of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris plantings.

There are a number of new achievements since I last wrote about this winery in 2014: A new label has been designed, a new estate vineyard is being developed in the Dundee Hills, and the winery now produces a Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay to accompany its other offerings.

The picturesque hospitality center, only a 20 minute drive south of McMinnville, is open for wine tasting daily. Visit the website at

Most of the wines I tasted in July have not been released so I don’t have complete data and prices on all wines.

2015 Van Duzer Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir Rosé

13.5% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.62, RS 0.3 g/L1,322 cases, $20, screwcap. Not a saignée, but a directed rosé produced from grapes grown specifically for rosé. 75% Wädenswil and 25% 115, fermented in stainless steel. · Moderate pinkish orange color in the glass. Aromas of strawberry and rhubarb leap from the glass. Bright and crisp, with tantalizing flavors of cherry, strawberry, apricot and herbs, finishing with a cleansing boost. One of Oregon’s best rosé wines. Score: 92

2015 Van Duzer Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc

13.5% alc., $N/A, screwcap. Sourced from Bieze Vineyard. 60% barrel fermented in neutral oak and 40% fermented in stainless steel. No malolactic fermentation. · Very light platinum color in the glass. Aromas and flavors of green apple, pear and nutty oak in a demurely composed wine that has a sleek, white stone fruited finish. Score: 89

2015 Van Duzer Bieze Vineyard Willamette Valley Chardonnay

13.5% alc., 220 cases, $N/A. Clone 96. Fermented in 40% concrete egg, 30% stainless steel, 20% in neutral French oak and 10% in new French oak. No malolactic fermentation. · Very light golden yellow color in the glass. Inviting aromas of white peach, pear, floral bouquet and nutty oak. Vivid flavors of citrus and green apple picking up more intensity over time in the glass. Score: 90

2015 Smith & Perry Oregon Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., <$20, screwcap. ? October release. An entry-level second label. A mix of Dijon clones including “828,” 113, 115 and 777. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of cherry and spice. Light to mid weight in style, with flavors of dark red cherry and spice. Silky in the mouth with gossamer tannins and enough tannic backbone to propel the wine. An excellent value. Score: 88-89

2014 Van Duzer Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $N/A, screwcap. 97% estate fruit. Aged 9 months in 27% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Plenty of black cherry fruit in this solid offering that exhibits good balance, easy drink ability, and a modest but satisfying finish. Score: 89-90

2014 Van Duzer Westside Blocks Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

(sampled from shiner) Several clones. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Deep aromas of cherry and spice that build over time in the glass. Sappy and luscious, featuring flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, clove and other spices, and offering impressive length on the luxurious finish. Score: 92-93

2014 Van Duzer Bieze Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

80% clone 777, 20% clone 667. · Moderate light reddish purple color in the glass. A cherry bombast that has a congenial touch of spice and a deft hint of oak. Good mid palate richness and juiciness, with silky tannins and a generous finish. Score: 91-92

2014 Van Duzer Alchemy Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 100 cases, $N/A. A barrel selection meant to be different each vintage but seems to end up as same composure: 33% Wädenswil, 33% 115, and 33% Pommard. Aged 18 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Effusive aromas of black cherry and spice leading to an amazing attack of ripe blueberry, black cherry and black raspberry fruits sprinkled with a hint of vanilla. The hair-raising attack and 30 second finish make you sit up in your chair. A very special wine. Score: 95-96

2014 Van Duzer Tradition Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Pommard clone from Homestead Block. 66% whole cluster. Aged 2 years in 75% new French oak barrels. Expect to age this wine for 5 to 10 years. · Moderately light crimson color in the glass. Challenging to evaluate this young wine. A bit lighter weighted now than the Alchemy and more closed, offering aromas and flavors of cherry and pomegranate. There is oak in the background that needs to integrate and the prodigious tannic structure will benefit for a few years in the cellar. The potential is obvious and this may turn out to be more deserving of a higher score. Score: 91-93

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