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We Still Like A Fortified Box Wine Now And Then, Too.

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jun 17, 2005 1:57PM

Now that grills across the city are sparking up with more frequency, Chicagoist has taken it upon itself to offer some helpful selections of beers and wines as well as some tasty cocktail recipes to complement your grilling experience and start you out on those baby steps to being a wonderful host- or an above average bartender.
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If last week was a preview of what August has in store for us, you might want to switch to white wines NOW. We ourselves prefer bolder, hearty reds. But when its 98 degrees in the shade and our clothes are soaked in sweat a red can be too heavy on the palate. We also tend to forgo standard varietals in favor of wines that make both us and our guests think a little bit about the flavors hitting the tongue. Today’s wine selection is from an Oregon winery with a Chicago connection.

We were clued to the Estate Pinot Gris from Van Duzer Vineyard late last summer, before Sideways made the pinot grape ubiquitous and trendy to the casual wine drinker. We were hooked just watching the legs cling to the glass. The wine’s light, fruity palate- with hints of pineapple and pear- and crisp finish were simply a bonus. Located in a hillside area of Oregon’s Williamette Valley, Van Duzer’s grapes benefit from lower afternoon temperatures and a cooling west wind coming off the Pacific Ocean, which extends the grapes’ hang time during the ripening process and stops the grapes’ acid-to-sugar conversion: more sugar, less acid. The end results are wines that are bursting with flavor and full of character.

Van Duzer Vineyards were purchased in 1998 by wine connoisseurs- and North Shore residents- Carl and Marilynn Thoma. Carl is founder and managing partner of Thoma Cressey Equity Partners, one of the country’s most prestigious venture capital firms. Marilynn Thoma, who oversees Van Duzer’s marketing efforts, is a vice chair (treasurer) of the board of directors for the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. The Thomas believe that the proof of their wines’ quality is in the bottle, and with a moderate price of $15 it should be able to fit into any budget. We like pairing Van Duzer Pinot Gris with lemon pepper chicken, roast beef, or summer sausage. With its light fruit flavor it also makes a nice alternative to dessert wines.

If your local watering hole doesn’t carry Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris, pester them until they do.

Zephyr image courtesy of Van Duzer Vineyards Web Site