2011 Brittan "Basalt Block" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

SKU #1241321 94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Brittan’s 2011 Pinot Noir Basalt Block delivers an impressively sappy and dense, vibrant and buoyant combination of tart red currant and blackberry with clean red meat juiciness; salt; crushed stone; and somehow, mysteriously crystalline traces. Such a range of complexity across fruit, animal, and mineral dimensions in such a still youthful wine is among the striking aspects of Brittan’s and his vineyard’s talents, as is their sense of energy, which unsurprisingly is almost palate-shaking on the present occasion, kinetics being another forte of the 2011 vintage. The tannins here are ultra-fine (even if the corresponding Gestalt Block bottling goes them one better!) and the finish is every bit as mouth-coating as it is vibratory. I suspect this will continue to impress through at least 2022. (DS)  (10/2013)

91 points Wine Enthusiast

 One can’t help but taste rock when sipping this wine. The minerality is palpable, underscoring a compact frame of earthy tannins, savory herbs and brambly cranberry fruit. It’s a particular expression of a unique place, made by a veteran winemaker, Robert Brittan, who knows what flavors he wants and how to get them. (PG)  (4/2015)

Allen Meadows - Burghound

 restrained and distinctly cool nose only grudgingly gives up aromas of both red and dark pinot fruit along with hints of earth, spice and briar. There is a lovely sense of detail and plenty of punch to the textured middle weight flavors that terminate in a dusty, delicious and lingering finish where there is a mild trace of youthful asperity. This is slightly awkward today though my score offers the benefit of the doubt that it will come together with a few years of bottle age.  (6/2014)

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Price: $44.99

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Pinot Noir

- One of France's most legendary grapes and the grape that earned Burgundy its reputation. The parent of varietals like Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir is blue to violet to indigo in color with relatively thin skins, and it is said to have been cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years. At its best, Pinot Noir creates elegant wines that are filled with primary red fruit aromas and flavors while young, revealing with an array of secondary characteristics like earth, smoke, violet, truffle and game with age. The varietal is also known, perhaps better than any, for its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of place. While the best Pinot Noir still comes from Burgundy, it is being produced with increasing success in cooler climates around the world. In France, it is part of the trifecta of grapes that can go into Champagne, and it is also grown in Alsace, Irancy, Jura, Savoie, Lorraine and Sancerre. Outside of France it is produced under the names Pinot Nero and Blauburgunder in Italy's mountainous regions, as Spätburgunder in Germany and as Blauburgunder in Austria. In the US, Pinot Noir has found suitable growing conditions in the cooler parts of California, including Carneros, the Russian River Valley, the Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County, as well as in Oregon's Willamette Valley. In recent years, New Zealand has demonstrated its ability to interpret this hard-to-grow varietal, with successful bottlings coming from careful and attentive growers in Central Otago, Martinborough and Canterbury. Chile is also an up-and-coming region for Pinot Noir, creating fresh, fruit-forward, early-drinking and affordable Pinots from the coastal Casablanca Valley and the Limari Valley.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- Highly touted for its Pinot Noirs, Oregon is part of the up-and-coming winemaking industry in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Most of Oregon is directly affected by the climate coming off of the Pacific Ocean, giving it mild winters and wet summers. This makes it a difficult place to ripen grapes, but some say that the harder grapes have to struggle, the more complex they will turn out to be. Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are two important and successful grapes grown in Oregon.