VOLUME 10, ISSUE 25
February 5, 2016
Robert Brittan was the first winemaker at Far Niente, then spent 16 years as winemaker and estate manager at Stags' Leap Winery before fulfilling his dream of making Pinot Noir and Syrah from cooler climates. A graduate of University of California at Davis, he has over 30 years of experience in making wine. He is also the winemaker for Winderlea, Blakeslee, Lazy River and Ayoub. Robert’s spouse, Ellen, is a veteran of the wine industry as well and focuses on the sales and marketing of the Brittan Vineyards brand.
Brittan had made Pinot Noir in California but felt he could do better. He had made wine in Oregon before, as an undergraduate at Oregon State University in the 1960s. He sold a plot of land he owned in Napa Valley and used the proceeds and loans to buy a 128-acre forested tract on the edge of the Willamette Valley in 2004, a site that took him years to discover. The soils here are a mix of basalt and volcanic rock. He replanted 18 acres of vineyards on the property (some plantings of Swan clone Pinot Noir were retained, a rarity in Oregon), cleared some additional land, and planted additional 3.5 acres of Pinot Noir in 2008. He now has Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and six Rhone varieties across 21 acres. He is convinced that Rhone varieties can succeed in the Willamette Valley.
The first two Pinot Noirs were produced from the property's mature vines in the 2006 vintage: 400+ cases of Basalt cuvée and 200+ cases of the Gestalt cuvée, He remarks, "They don't have that prettiness of most Oregon PInots, but they do have something else. They're out on the edge."
The wines are sold through a mailing list with limited retail distribution.
Articles About Brittan Vineyards
Adventures on the Pinot Trail: World of Pinot Noir - The Seminars (9.39 3/29/2014)
Adventures on the Pinot Trail: World of Pinot Noir: The Tastings (9.39 3/29/2014)
Large Review of 2009 & 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs With a Few from 2008 & 2011 (9.7 5/9/2012)
Sips of Oregon Pinot Noir (9.18 1/19/2013)
Sips of Recently Tasted Oregon Pinot Noir & More (9.42 5/25/2014)
Tasting the Six Appellations with Grape Radio (7.7 12/17/2008)
2011 Brittan Vineyards Gestalt Block McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., $55 (sold out). From the most exposed blocks in the vineyard so always transparent to its vintage. Primarily 115, 667 and 777. Aged 9 months in modest new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Deeply perfumed with intriguing aromas of dark plum and berries, underbrush and wine cave. Vibrant, racy and vivid dark stone and berry fruits with an underlying tangy citric acidity. The wine finishes with a tart sweet and sour finish and a profusion of tannin. Score: 89. Reviewed July 6, 2014 ARTICLE »
2010 Brittan Vineyards Basalt Block Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $50. Sourced from parts the vineyard with the heaviest concentration of broken sub-marine basalt, resulting in low yielding vines that produce intense flavors. Primarily Pommard, blended with 667, 777 and 115. Aged 9 months in 25% new French oak. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red berries including cranberries, vitamins, and seasoned oak. Dark red raspberry, red plum and red cherry flavors are featured underlain with soft tannins. Finishes with a rush of sour cherry fruit and grapefruit-driven acidity. Not particularly pleasing on its own, but acid can be your friend at the dinner table, and this wine should work nicely with a salad dressed with vinaigrette, deep-fried foods or fish dishes with creamy sauces. Good. Reviewed January 19, 2013 ARTICLE »
2009 Brittan Vineyards Basalt Block Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $39. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Subdued aromas of dark red fruits, herbs and pine. Middleweight flavors of dark red cherries and berries with a hint of citrus on the finish. Softer, more restrained than the Gestalt Block bottling, offering a creamy texture and inviting drinkability. This is more to my liking. Very good. Reviewed May 11, 2012 ARTICLE »
2009 Brittan Vineyards Gestalt Block Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $39. From an estate vineyard located on a south facing mountainside in the McMinnville AVA. · The dense, deep purple color in the glass shows what is to follow. Heady aromas of very ripe purple plum and black grapes. Lavishly fruited with more body than typical for Oregon Pinot Noir. Ripe, tooth-staining intensity with endless waves of sweet, purple fruit balanced by firm tannins and a vivid, citrus-driven acidity. Not for me personally, but done well in its style. Good. Reviewed May 11, 2012 ARTICLE »
2006 Brittan Vineyards Basalt Block McMinnville Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., $45. · This wine keeps opening and opening in the glass. Sumptuous blackberry, cranberry and pomegranate fruit with an earthy bent. Attractive nose endowed with minerality, forest floor and a touch of alcohol. Smooth and supple tannins. Reviewed December 17, 2008 ARTICLE »
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