One of the iconic winemakers in the Willamette Valley, Robert Brittan made the bold decision to leave Stags’ Leap Winery in Napa after serving as Winemaker and Estate Manager for 16 years, in order to start his own winery in Oregon. His journey north the Willamette Valley began in his dorm room at Oregon State University, where he was a physics and philosophy major. He actually began his career in fermentation sciences in attempting to gain female interest. Robert ultimately completed his education at UC Davis and moved to Napa Valley, where he made wines for Far Niente, Saint Andrews and Stags’ Leap Winery. Robert has 40 years of experience making wine. Once he finally found the right site for his winery, Brittan Vineyards began on an 128-acre hillside in Oregon in December 2004. The soils are a mixture of glacial deposits and volcanic material, with a predominant presence of broken basalt. The volcanic material clearly adds to the wonderfully stony aspect in the wines. In 2004 there were 18 acres of existing vines but Robert needed to replant nearly half of the rootstock. This included one of the first plantings of the Swan clonal selection of Pinot Noir in Oregon.
After dropping all of the crop in 2005 to allow the vines to get better established, the first two Pinot Noirs from the mature vines on the property came from the 2006 vintage, a total of 720 cases. In the spring of 2008, an additional 3.5 acres of Pinot Noir were planted, which are now in production— the rocky soils and low water retention often means that it takes five years for a vine to get into production. In addition to the Pinot Noir, Robert has 4 acres of Chardonnay and 1.5 acres of Syrah have been planted. In addition to his own wines, Robert serves as the winemaker for several other brands, including Blakeslee, de Lancellotti, Fairsing, Noble Pig, Winderlea and Youngberg Hill.
Robert’s Brittan Vineyards releases in 2013 were some of the best Pinot Noir bottlings that I sampled in my 2016 Oregon Report for International Wine Report. HIs new 2014 releases were just as good, if not better. The 2014 Brittan Vineyards ‘Gestalt Block’ Pinot Noir (WWB, 95) is one of the best wines from Oregon that I have sampled in the past year. It is an epic and exceptional effort that comboines exceptional terroir, rich fruit and incredible minerality. Learn more about these simply amazing wines at http://www.brittanvineyards.com Here are the new Pinot Noir releases by Brittan Vineyards.
2014 Brittan Vineyards ‘Basalt Block’ Pinot Noir- The 2014 Brittan Vineyards 'Basalt Block' Pinot Noir is primarily comprised of clones Pommard, 667, 777, 115 and Swan. This is another utterly compelling wine from winemaker Robert Brittan which begins with complex aromatics of cranberry, teaberrg, mulberry, pomegranate seed, forest floor and black truffle oil, all taking shape and continually bringing you back to the glass for more. The richness and mouthfeel of this wine is purely sumptuous. There are beautifully concentrated flavors of wild blackberry cobbler, blood orange, black cherry, wet stone, black tea and black truffle with hints of sandalwood. The minerality is stunning, as this wine will truly age geacefully for years to come. Drink 2017-2030- 94
2014 Brittan Vineyards ‘Gestalt Block’ Pinot Noir- The Gestalt block in the Brittan Vineyard mostly contains Pinot Noir clones 115, 667, 777 and Swan on 101-14 and 4453 rootstocks. These southwestern facing blocks stare receive constant winds from the Pacific Ocean through the Van Duzer corridor. Even more pungent, funky and earthy than the 'Basalt' bottling this dark colored Pinot Noir opens with aromatics of white truffles, blackberry cobbler, mint, teaberry, cranberries and orange zest. There are focused flavors of black raspberry liquor, white truffle and kumquat all backed by grippy tannins. The range, intensity and fruit weight is novel and simply remarkable. Allow this another year or two of bottle age beofre it hits its stride. Drink 2018-2030-95