2019 Brick House, Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Legendary Oregon winegrower Doug Tunnell, who founded Brick House in 1990, pioneered organics and especially biodynamic grape growing in the Willamette Valley as well as using traditional Burgundian practices in the winery when crafting his elegant wines. The youthful 2019 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir is Brick House’s lighter Village level offering, but it is very pure and crisp in detail with lovely energetic red fruits and mineral tones with layers of black cherry, tangy raspberry, red peach, Moro orange and tart plum along with a stony or cool personality accented by rose petals, tea spices, tiled earth, apple skin and a delicate wood shading that frames this medium bodied and dark ruby red Pinot. Brick House does a variety of stellar offerings and they are most revered for their three Cru level Pinots, the Cuvée du Tonnelier, the Les Dijonnais (made using Dijon clones) and the Evelyn’s, the ultra best cuvee and one of Oregon’s great wines. That said, there is reason to look beyond the Pinots at Brick House with their Chardonnay(s) being exceptional as well and seems to get better with each new vintage and of course one of my secret favorites, Tunnell’s fabulous Gamay Noir(s) that I’ve been addicted to for years and crafted in the same elegant style as the Pinots with traditional native yeast fermentation with entirely de-stemmed grapes in stainless tank and, as the winery notes, then racked into 100% neutral French oak barrels for a twelve-month élevage for purity of flavors.
This 2019 Ribbon Ridge bottling was crafted to be enjoyed fresh and is easy to quaff with moderate alcohol and smooth textures, it shows plenty of charm and subtle complexity to nicely go with simple meals and is great wine to get started with Brick House, it is a gateway into Tunnell’s wines, which show a sense of place and varietal clarity. The Brick House winery is a 100% estate producer, growing all of their own fruit and making all of the wine on site with all the vines having been certified organic for more than 25 years now and are also certified biodynamic by Demeter, the most strict holistic certification for grape growers. The journey to becoming one of the most famous Willamette Valley producers was an interesting one, with Doug Tunnell, the owner and winemaker of Brick House, spending almost two decades as a foreign correspondent for CBS news before he came back to his native Oregon and bought a run down farm house and orchard, which he would turn into one of America’s most renown estates. Set on mineral rich and gravelly marine sedimentary soils in the Ribbon Ridge AVA, Brick House has thirty acres under vines that gives Tunnell great material to hand craft his wines which see indigenous yeast fermentation(s) and usually see a minimum of a year in barrel, like this bottling, with the top cuvees being aged between 18 to 24 months with well judged use of new oak. This Ribbon Ridge Pinot, which was called “Select” in the past is a fresh and vibrant example that should drink well for next 5 years and should gain more richness as it matures, enjoy it on more causal occasions, it is a classy wine for the price.
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive