Estate Chardonnay 2019
Robert Brittan developed a love for Chardonnay during his tenure as the first winemaker at Far Niente Winery in the early 1980’s, a passion that continued to grow during his 16 years at Stags’ Leap Winery. In 2004, Robert decided to leave California and start a vineyard project in the cool climate of the northern Willamette Valley, the home of the finest New World Chardonnay grown today.
The Brittan Vineyard lies just 12 miles southwest of McMinnville, tucked into the foothills of the Coast Range. The original 18 acres were planted in 2001, but due to the challenging nature of this site and limited topsoil, only eight acres survived. Since 2004 when Robert and Ellen purchased the vineyard, it has been an ongoing rehabilitation project: replanting, retraining, and learning the unique landscape that has become Brittan Vineyard.
The aim at Brittan Vineyards is to remove the hand of the winemaker during wine production. With this, minimal fuss and movement are trademarks of Robert’s style, producing wines of varietal complexity and nuance. After whole cluster pressing, the must is fermented in barrel. Elevage occurs over ten months in about 25% new French oak.
The 2019 vintage was the coolest since 2015: warm during the main part of the growing season but cooling significantly towards harvest. We achieved ripe flavors and fruit maturity without the concentrated sugars and higher alcohols associated with late season heat events. These cooler, longer maturing vintages often give us more finesse in flavor and structure and more complexity in aromatics.
Hints of white flower and white peach form a bright counterpoint to the ripe pear and orange aromas in this classic Oregon Chardonnay. The oak is beautifully integrated here, more of a suggestion of wood than overt barrel aromas. Our unique site expresses itself through the structure and mouthfeel of this elegant wine, exhibiting a pleasant weight and spice in the finish.
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Paul Gregutt - April 15, 2022 A master of Chardonnay, Robert Brittan expresses the particular strengths of the estate vineyard here. A stony foundation supports the crisp mix of apple, pear and peach fruit. Though relatively low in finished alcohol, the fruit reaches the edges of tropical papaya and the acids are moderate and proportionate.
Other Wines by this Producer
Winemaker Robert Brittan developed a love for Rhône varieties during his first visit to the Northern Rhône Valley in the early 1980’s. Captivated by the cool climate Syrahs from Cornas and Côte-Rôtie and intrigued by the cool, windy climate in McMinnville, Robert was encouraged to explore how Syrah would express itself on his rugged, exposed hillside.
The Gestalt Block, a two-acre parcel planted primarily to Pinot noir selection 115, occupies the southwest flank of our hillside. The vines here are planted in shallow topsoil underpinned by a young, dense layer of intrusion basalt, and yield less than one ton of fruit per acre. The small, thick-skinned berries (a product of the Van Duzer winds) produce wines with a dark fruit core and pronounced phenolic intensity that showcase the essence of the vintage.
The three-acre, east facing Cygnus Block was planted in 2008 to the low-yielding Swan Selection of Pinot noir (the only single-selection block on the property). Unlike the rest of the vineyard, rows here are planted in an east/west orientation giving the block a different exposure to the sun and reducing the influence of the Van Duzer winds, which are channeled through the rows instead of across them. This block’s unique aspect, orientation, and selection create fresh, balanced, seamless wines brimming with red fruits.
Winemaker Robert Brittan, a wine industry veteran with the experience of over 45 harvests, has always had a passion for Pinot noir; a love affair that began in the 1980’s when he made several vintages under his Britt Hill label with fruit from Carneros. In 2004, Robert decided to leave Stags’ Leap Winery in Napa and start a Pinot noir project in the cool climate of the northern Willamette Valley.