By: Stephanie Miskew
This month I’m thrilled to focus on the wines of California’s Santa Lucia Highlands. This under the radar AVA (American Viticultural Area) is deserving of lots of attention (which is undoubtedly forthcoming after everyone reads this!) and is best know for it’s exceptional cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. While it’s best known wines can be somewhat pricey, I’m thrilled to share the 2019 Morgan Winery Double L Vineyard Riesling, an incredibly pedigreed, small production gem from one of the region’s pioneering families that is definitely worth seeking out.
WHO IT’S FROM: In 1982, Dan and Donna Lee opened the doors of Morgan Winery. Since then, Morgan has become one of the Central Coast’s most recognized labels, earning “Winery of the Year” honors from Wine & Spirits in 1996 and from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2003. Able to pick and choose fruit sources from around the state, Dan eventually turned more of his attention to the Santa Lucia Highlands and single vineyard releases. Dan and Donna invested in their belief in the Highlands with the purchase of the Double L Vineyard in 1996. Today the Double L is one of the best known vineyards in California. Dan’s leadership and expertise in the district led to his being named the first Board President of the newly formed Santa Lucia Highlands’ winegrowers association in 2005.
WHERE IT’S FROM: The Double L Vineyard is at the northern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Here the ultra-cool climate and porous, mountainside soils provide ideal conditions for growing world-class Riesling.
THE GRAPE: Native to Germany, the noble Riesling grape is the basis of some of the world’s most prized and longest-lived white wines.
WHAT TO PAIR IT WITH: This delightful Riesling is a natural match for spicy Thai + Indian cuisine (like our Gochujang Roast Chicken with Honey Lime Potatoes), shellfish + lighter fish dishes as well as fresh chèvre + triple-cream cheeses.
Review by Misty at RedWineCats.com
With fruit dedicated solely to the production of Rosé, Morgan’s 2019 blend of 86% Grenache and 14% Cinsault was created from grapes picked at just the right time to maintain higher acidity and lower sugar. Perfectly crisp and dry with fantastic balance of fresh, bright fruit, this bottle tastes above its price range.
During the Pink Society wine chat on August 20th, Morgan Winery did a series of informative videos highlighting winemaker Sam Smith and an introduction to the rest of the winemaking crew. They all seem to really like each other and even shared some (bad;) wine jokes. All of that good energy must leak into the wine, because it’s a really great wine. I received this bottle as a sample, but will absolutely seek their wines out any time I see them on a shelf (or their website) and hear great things about their Pinot Noir.
Read the full article by clicking here.
Review by Joey Casco at TheWineStalker.net
Wasn't Morgan just on this blog? Well, they're back! And delivering that same great quality as they always do. The 2018 Highland Chardonnay is like a buttered biscuit with a side of pineapples. It's pretty oaky and you know that's my jam with Chardonnay. However, the bright and tart finish makes it more versatile with food than most oaky buttery Chards. Speaking of bright and tart, the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc out of Monterey is all about the zip! There is Semillon in here so it's got a medium body and a round mouthfeel, but I hope you like Sour Patch Kids because the tartness will make your mouth pucker. And not in a bad way, because it's pretty yummy and very refreshing. It's very grassy with grapefruit and lemon. I'm drooling thinking about this with Oysters Rockefeller. Finally, it's the 2019 Rosé of Grenache. With a weighty mouthfeel and tamed acidity, this is a rosé that's meant to savor instead of porch pound. Of course there's watermelon and strawberry, but there's also vanilla and orange skin. The best part of this wine is the finish. It's super juicy and, in a big surprise, spicy.
Review by @wineryreflections
Tart blackberry, fragrant sage, fresh mixed currants. Wild huckleberry, cracked black pepper, spiced dark cherry. Crunchy boysenberry, cranberry, and black licorice erupt with incredible energy and tension yet are immediately outshined by fresh thyme, rosemary, and a complex medley of wild herbs. Cardamon, anise, and tarragon continue the ambrosially spiced and herbal attack aided by an additional savory jolt of black olive, lavender leaf, and tree bark. A waft of young violet complements nice floral lift before oyster shell, crushed gravel, and rock salt leave a deliciously earthy impression. Delightfully peppery, raw, and feral; boasting an incredibly layered and multidimensional profile that is only just barely beginning to reveal its true depth. Medium plus in body/tannin/acidity with palpable energy and structure that implies it is still many years from its peak. This 2018 "G17" Syrah by Morgan Winery is an outstanding and unique cool climate red from the Santa Lucia Highlands.
While it is primarily known as a source for high quality Pinot Noir, the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation in Monterey County it is also home to a growing concentration of absolutely incredible Syrah. This bottling, crafted by Morgan Winery using mostly Syrah plus a pinch of Grenache and Tempranillo, is a terrifically interesting example of the complex subtleties possible in California's cool yet sunny Central Coast. Contrary to many new world Syrahs this wine is dominated largely by its pronounced savory and herbal character rather than its fruit, yet it still manages to express wonderfully juicy freshness. It is well balanced and quite restrained with excellent tartness and drive. This is an extremely well executed and food friendly offering that will stand up to even the most intricately flavored dishes.
Have you tried Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah?
Review by @WineryReflections
Ripe Bing cherry, fresh lavender, pomegranate reduction. Candied orange peel, Asian five spice, black raspberry compote. A delicately concentrated and lifted core of Santa Rosa plum, cranberry cocktail, and cola seamlessly collides with forest floor, coriander, and nutmeg in a fragrant and gorgeously expansive display. High toned perfume continues to radiate as violet, wildflowers, and pine needle reveal fresh floral and natural overtones intricately complicated by clove, cardamom, and an ample helping of complex spice. A waft of grilled mushroom emerges to impart a dousing of beautiful umami while ocean fog, sea spray, and gravely earth expose subtle yet seductive hints of terroir. Fresh, fruit-driven, and nicely balanced on the palate; presenting a wonderfully layered and expressive attack that maintains authenticity to both grape and place. Medium plus in body with moderate yet soft tannin backed by elevated acidity. This 2017 "Twelve Clones" Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir by Morgan Winery is a bright, aromatic, and archetypal Monterey County red.
Known for its warm sunny days juxtaposed against cold and foggy nights, the Santa Lucia Highlands has quickly developed into one of California's greatest growing zones for robust and expressive Pinot Noir. This bottling, crafted by Morgan Winery using 12 distinct clones of Pinot Noir sourced from within the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, brilliantly showcases the ethereal power and aromatic depth that this region has become famous for. While it leads with a medley of rich and ripe fruit this wine maintains impressive weightlessness and energy, and its spiced, floral, and natural charm gorgeously complicates the intriguing fruit-focused bouquet. This exhibits nice restraint to balance its decadence, and while enjoyable now it will certainly improve with 5-10 years in the cellar. A deliciously classic SLH Pinot.
Have you tried SLH Pinot Noir?