Wed 6 Jul 2011
By “accessible” I mean more widely available and less expensive than the winery’s single-vineyard chardonnays, typically produced in lots fewer then 500 cases. What I’m talking about are the very popular Morgan “Metallico” Chardonnay 2010, Monterey County, and the Morgan “Highland” Chardonnay 2009, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, each of which serves as a sort of microcosm of the winery’s concerns and techniques. Dan Lee and his wife Donna founded Morgan Winery in 1982, while he was winemaker for Durney Vineyards. They now have 48.5 acres of vines, as well as the Lee Family Farm. Winemaker for Morgan is Gianni Abate.
These were samples for review.
The Morgan “Metallico” Chardonnay 2010 draws grapes mainly from Santa Lucia Highlands but also from the slightly warmer Arroyo Seco area of Monterey County. The wine sees no oak, fermenting and aging in stainless steel tanks, and going through no malolactic fermentation to retain ultimate freshness and crispness. This is a lively, appealing chardonnay, sporting a pale straw-gold color and attractive aromas of pineapple and grapefruit and touches of roasted lemon and spiced pear; a few minutes in the glass bring out hints of tangerine and jasmine. The texture is a beguiling amalgam of talc-like softness and lushness balanced by taut acidity and burgeoning limestone and wet shale elements that ensconce ripe, spicy flavors of pineapple, grapefruit and lemon drop, highlighted with a hint of ginger. The finish is medium-length, yet finely drawn and slightly austere with stones and bones. Lovely purity and intensity and brilliant with swordfish seared medium-rare. Buy by the case and drink over the next year. 14.1 percent alcohol. Very Good+. About $20.
What do you get for six dollars more? The grapes for the Morgan “Highland” Chadonnay 2009, Santa Lucia Highlands, derive from some of the vineyards that provide Morgan with its best single-designation chardonnays and pinot noirs, namely Double L and Rosella’s. The wine ages a careful nine and a half months in a combination of 25 percent new French oak barrels with one- and two-year-old barrels and some number of neutral barrels, meaning well-used, the overall effect being a gentle, subtle shaping of the wine with appropriate suppleness and spiciness that brings out the best in the fruit without overwhelming it; you do, though, feel that oak, a sense of woody blondness, if I can say that, through the long, almost muscular finish. The color is medium straw-gold; the bouquet is bright and boldly spicy, featuring hints of roasted lemon, lemon balm and lemon curd permeated by slight tinges of banana and mango, ginger and yellow plums. This is rich and luscious but fortunately cut by the tang and tingle of rigorous acidity and a powerful limestone character that grounds the wine in the earth. Juicy, full-bodied, delicious. 14.2 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2013 or ’14, well-stored. Excellent. About $26.