Robert Brittan left Stags’ Leap Winery in Napa after 16 years as Winemaker and Estate Manager to fulfill his dream of making Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah from unique sites in cooler climates. In 2004 he and his wife Ellen purchased a 128 acre estate in the foothills of the Coast Range in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and shortly thereafter founded Brittan Vineyards. All of the wines made at Brittan Vineyards are estate wines.
On a mild but wet Saturday afternoon this past weekend I made a visit to the tasting room just a few blocks off of 3rd Street in downtown McMinnville. The tasting room is in a shared space with Winderlea and the wine is also made in this facility. The Vineyard itself is located outside of town. I had decided to visit Brittan because I had heard good things about the Pinot Noir and the proximity to the 3rd Street Flats where I was staying.
The tasting was a flight of 5 wines including the 2018 Estate Chardonnay, 2017 Cygnus Block Pinot Noir, 2017 Gestalt Block Pinot Noir, 2018 Basalt Block Pinot Noir and the 2014 The Puncheon Pinot Noir. For me the highlights of the tasting were the Cygnus, Gestalt and Basalt Pinot Noirs. I did not take detailed notes but all 3 wines would have been in the 92-95 point range. Both wines from 2017 were opulent and lush with tremendous purity of fruits. The 2018 (from a warmer vintage) was more structured and powerful than the pair from 2017 but also showed a core of beautiful fruit. I think it is a fair to say Robert Brittan brought a California flair to his crafting of Oregon Pinot Noir and to that end the wines I tried today were immensely appealing.
I am always looking for a new Pinot Noir producer to add to to my repertoire and brought 4 bottles home with me and also signed up for the mailing list so I can follow the winery in the years to come.