May 202010

Strings Restaurant (Denver) & Van Duzer Pinot Noir – A Nice Combination

We were excited last week to see a posting from our friends at for a wine dinner at Strings Restaurant in Denver with Van Duzer Vineyards Pinots from Willamette Valley, Oregon. We had wanted to give Strings a try after a couple of good recommendations and we like Van Duzer pinots…nice combination.

Van Duzer Vineyards is a Certified Sustainable and Salmon Safe vineyard founded in 1989 by the Thoma family. The winery produces about 20,000 cases of wine per year from the 82 acre estate. Only grapes from the estate are used to produce Van Duzer wines. Only Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are grown on the property.

The evening began at 6:30 with a reception where 2009 Van Duzer Rose was served. As the sellout crowd assembled and enjoyed the wine Van Duzer’s national sales manager Tanna Masser mingled and chatted with many. It was obvious that she enjoys promoting Van Duzer products. As we sat to begin the dinner Tanna did tell the men in attendance that “real men do drink rose wines.” That clarification made me feel much better about my earlier indulgence. The Van Duzer Rose is made from 100% Pinot grapes and is medium bodied and fairly dry with nice nose of strawberry and cherry. This is a great option for a warm evening on the patio. Once we were seated the wine was paired nicely with a pan roasted salmon and orange confit.

The next wine pairing was 2007 Estate Pinot Gris with Haystack Mountain Snowdrop Goat Cheese. The cheese was served warm with the consistence of nice brie. The wine was very light and crisp with hints of apricot and peach with a definite minerality. The wine and cheese paired nicely but was a little bland for my “overblown” palate. This wine is an award winner, but not my cup of tea.

We finally moved on to the star of the night (and a personal favorite) Pinot Noir. Paired with Roasted Quail was the 2007 Vintners Cuvee Pinot Noir. To be frank, both of these offerings were forgettable. The quail was nicely prepared but bland and the wine was definitely “B” team. On the upside, we were then served a beautifully prepared Colorado Lamb Chop with smoked lamb sausage and a whole grain mustard sabayon. Normally, I don’t care for mustard sauces but this was an exciting exception. The lamb was perfectly paired with 2007 Van Duzer Estate Reserve Estate Pinot Noir.

The 2007 Van Duzer Estate Reserve Estate Pinot Noir was a real winner. A great nose with very complex blending of aromas like black fruits, black cherry, coco and tobacco led to a very well balanced flavor with tannins that softened after about 10 minutes in glass. My one complaint was that there was not enough of this wine. The diners drank it up quickly and none was left of either pinot noir to enjoy as we awaited dessert.

Tanna gave the crowd a couple of nice treats before dessert. She asked the diners to look on the back of their menus and as it turned out, five people had a Van Duzer sticker attached. Those lucky five (of which we were not one…so very sad) were given a three night stay with tours and tastings at the cottage on the Van Duzer Estate. Needless to say, this was an unexpected and generous offering. I hope the winners don’t let it go to waste…we would not have.

The evening ended with Zephyra Semisweet wine paired with an Almond Panna Cotta. The Zephyra is an ice wine made from Pinot grapes. The white wine has a soft combination of apricot and pear on the palate. It is only available at the winery or on the Van Duzer website.

All in all it was a good evening. The group was very engaged giving the event a very relaxed feel. We were seated with a particularly fun and interesting group.We would have appreciated the opportunity to taste some of Van Duzer’s higher end offerings in the “Block Designates” selections. But, I suppose that leaves me something to look forward to. The wait staff at Strings was professional and friendly crowd and Chef Lance did a very good job with his food pairings. We’re looking forward to another event at Strings and another sip of Van Duzer.

Leave a Reply