By: Laura Ness
There’s a trend in the competitions I’ve judged so far this year: Albariño keeps showing up in a big way. At the 2022 San Francisco Chronicle Competition, an Albariño from Wood Family in Livermore topped a field of 41 entries—a record number—to earn Best of Class. At the just held 2022 East Meets West Wine Competition, a 2021 Albariño from Las Positas, another Livermore winery, won Best of Show, beating out 1,100 total entries for the top prize. Let’s hear it for this Iberian white popular in Spain (30K acres) and Northwest Portugal (14K acres), whose acreage has doubled in CA since 2012. Yep, we’re up to a whopping 560 acres now.
Local favorite Morgan, won a lot of hearts and big smiles with the 2020 Morgan Albariño (13%, $24) from Arroyo Seco. Gorgeous floral aromatics just charm your nose, and the pleasing flavors of melon, white peach and a hint of salty prosciutto make this wine a keeper. Soft and delicate, but with definitive presence from start to finish. A most engaging composition.
Morgan winemaker Sam Smith tells us this wine is from the Mission Vineyard in the northern reaches of Arroyo Seco, very close to the SLH, and that Morgan has been sourcing from there for seven years. He used Cross Evolution yeast to enhance both aromatics and mouthfeel, which is also bolstered by barrel aging for six months in 11% new French and Hungarian barrels, with the balance being neutral. He picked the fruit at 21.5 brix. Asked what he’s aiming for with this wine, Smith says, “We are trying to achieve a wine that is relatively lean and very fresh, with effusive aromatics and enough mid palate richness to be paired with oysters and lunchtime fare alike.”
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By: Nathan and Courtney Marton
Delicate strawberry, gravely earth, white raspberry. Rainier cherry, wildflowers, tart grapefruit. Beautifully tense and nervy bursts of citrus zest, nectarine, and watermelon highlight a bright and impressively balanced fruit core that is decidedly dainty, energetic, and crisp. Hints of dandelions, baby's-breath, and lavender gently provide soft floral overtones that are pleasantly complicated by suggestions of pine needle and clean garden herbs. Notes of crushed granite, stony minerality, and mild salinity reveal wonderfully textured earthiness to round out the lively and tremendously youthful attack. Delightfully clean, focused, and precise on the palate with outstanding intensity and freshness; exhibiting tremendous primary refreshment while remaining notably elegant and restrained. Light bodied and carried by delicious high acidity. This 2020 Double L Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir by Morgan Winery is a serious and invigorating rosé from the Santa Lucia Highlands.
Though best know as one of California's premier regions for expressive and fruit-driven Pinot Noir, the Santa Lucia Highlands is also capable of putting out some of Golden State's very best Pinot Noir-based rosé. This bottling, crafted by Morgan Winery using 100% Pinot Noir sourced from their estate Double L Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands, is an excellent example of the tension and drive this cool coastal region can create. Crafted in a tart and linear style, this wine boasts a citrus and red berry led fruit profile complicated by delicate floral tones, light herbal qualities, and fantastic minerality. It is perfectly structured to pair well with a range of food and cheeses, yet is also absolutely delicious to sip and enjoy on its own. Excellent.
Monterey County Weekly
By Dave Faries
It’s the time of year when treasured family recipes are consulted, when there are siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles around to help with the tedious masa process, when you just give up and order tamales from a convenient location, in this case Mariscos Puerto Nuevo in Seaside.
Pairing wine with Christmas tamales is not so far-fetched, at least until salsa enters the fray.
“You want something with lots of fruit and mild tannins,” says Kerry Winslow, a wine educator working with Windy Oaks in Carmel Valley.
A heaping of fruit on the palate helps prevent the wine from capturing any bitterness from the tamale, in this case filled with shreds of pork. His options include Zinfandel and Carignan. Rosé is a more common choice.
But Winslow pivots away from red or a versatile Rosé.
“If you’re looking for a good local wine and want to do white, the off-dry Riesling from Morgan,” he adds with an expression of “Eureka!” on his face. “That would be fabulous.”
Now, a little etymological aside is in order here. You see, the word serendipity has had a hard life. For starters, a clever linguist derived it from a fairy tale. Just the sound of it is exceedingly precious.
To make matters worse, business consultants pounced on the concept, seeing in it a “principle of chance” that could be dangled before management for $650 an hour. One pundit held it up as a major Generation Y consumer trend for 2014.
Sorry times, indeed. But when I visited the Morgan Winery tasting room in Carmel to pick up a bottle, staff member Rafael Perez smiled broadly behind his mask.
His mother had done a tamale practice run the previous weekend. And guess which wine Perez had on hand? The 2020 Morgan Riesling, an organic, single vineyard bottling.
The wine is fruity and floral on the nose, flaunting tart apple, but with a soft undertone of lemon and honey. A sip provides richer fruits—fresh cut peaches, skin peeled from a pear, honeysuckle and a trace of bitter zest. It’s elegant throughout, with a dry finish that subsides into must.
“It has a little natural sugar and good acidity,” Perez notes of the Kabinett-style Riesling. “It will cut through fat.”
Tamales from Mariscos Puerto Nuevo carry a rustic, natural sweetness in the masa. The pork is equally humble, with an earthy heft. Against this, the wine takes on a velvety feel—more opulent fruits, as if peaches had been baked down. Hints of whole orange and sliced apple emerge, along with a spicy tingle. The tamale benefits from the pairing, as well, gaining a soft, malty tone.
It’s a remarkable pairing that continues when the sauce is added. The Riesling flares momentarily, pricking the palate with cracks of black pepper that lends a rumble to the pork. When salsa is dabbed on, the wine responds nicely to the heat, raising its temperature a few notches before homing in on green pepper.
The Zoe Report
By Nicole Kliest
With a title like Autumn in New York and an all-star cast like Winona Ryder and Richard Gere, what's left to do than dim the lights and enjoy 103 minutes of fall foliage and a slightly depressing but all the same romantic storyline? For this film, eschew red and opt for a white with a full-body mouthfeel, like Chardonnay. It's fantastic with food and is an excellent white wine for the colder months of the year.
Pair It With: 2018 Double L Chardonnay
Good Times Santa Cruz
By Josie Cowden
Morgan is one of the better-known wineries in the Monterey Bay area. Consistently making great wines for nearly four decades, they have earned a well-deserved reputation.
Owner and winemaker Dan Morgan Lee found his path into the wine business when he was studying to be a veterinarian at UC Davis, but switched courses when he discovered enology satisfied his interest in both science and agriculture.
Some of his more special Pinot Noirs come from his Double L Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The 2017 Double L Vineyard Pinot Noir ($65) is a luscious treat. Rich with aromas of strawberry preserves, cinnamon, peppercorn, and a hint of herbs, it is augmented by flavors of tart cherry and savory spices. Dan Morgan calls it “an exquisite match for duck confit, lamb shank, and prime rib.” Wine Enthusiast awarded it 96 points.
Located in the northern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, this special area is widely regarded as “one of the best spots for growing top-flight Pinot Noir.”
With Easter just around the corner, the Double L Pinot would be a marvelous addition to your festive celebration.
Los Gatos Magazine
By Laura Ness
Chilly is the watchword on the Central Coast. When you head to the beach, no matter how warm it is inland, you always take a sweatshirt. As sunny as California is, the coast is often not warmly welcoming. Vineyards planted within 10 miles of the Pacific Ocean are guaranteed to feel its omnipresence, and, occasionally, its omnipotence.
When winegrower and owner Dan Lee and his wife Donna planted the 48-acre Double L Vineyard at the northern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands bench in 1997, they named it "Double L" (luck) for their twin daughters. In 2001, it became the first and only certified organic property in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Aromas of lemon curd, honey butter, cardamom, flint and cashew toffee are joined by layers of bright Meyer lemon, clementines, salted caramel and lemon bars, Generous acid, complexity from the five clones that comprise it (4, 15, 17, 76 and 95), along with a persistent clean finish, make this a versatile food wine. Enjoy with anything from seared garlic scallops to sautéed wild mushrooms with creamed corn and fennel. Or a ribeye topped with cowboy butter.
Review By @wineryreflections
Juicy red cherry, finely-ground black pepper, crunchy boysenberry. Fresh-picked strawberry, overgrown bramble, red licorice. A delightfully clean and expressive procession of wild blackberry, raspberry, and cranberry compote booms with pure and pretty exuberance as notes of undergrowth, leather, and cigar smoke beautifully complicate the charmingly aromatic display. Wafts of rose petal, carnations, and blooming flowers gracefully emerge in a layer of high-toned florals while hints of olive tapenade, bougainvillea, and summer sausage reveal subtle yet interesting savory and natural tones. Complex impressions of Hungarian paprika and exotic spices provide an intriguing edge while flecks of gravelly soil expose delicate underlying earthiness. Enticingly weightless, fragrant, and multidimensional on the nose while remaining fresh and playful on the palate; exhibiting outstanding balance and finesse in a package that effortlessly marries depth and drinkability. Medium in body with moderate tannin backed by nicely elevated acidity. This 2018 "Cotes du Crow's" by Morgan Winery is an elegant and exciting Rhone red from Monterey County.
Though primarily known as one of California's greatest regions for the production of cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Monterey County contains a wide range of mesoclimates capable of ripening a diverse selection of grape varieties. This bottling, crafted by Morgan Winery using a blend of 66% Grenache/31% Syrah/3% Tempranillo sourced from within Monterey County, magnificently showcases the immense potential Rhone varieties have in the region. Made in a flavor-packed yet delicate style similar to the region's Pinots, this wine generously wafts from the glass with attractive aromas of plump red and black fruit, bright florals, wonderful brambliness, and intriguing layers of peppery spice. It is expressive and forward while remaining perfectly balanced and restrained, and is undoubtedly one of the most impressive values we've experienced in quite some time. Excellent.
Have you tried a Rhone red blend from Monterey County?
Wine + Comics: What's not to love? That's exactly what you'll find in Joey Casco's @thewinestalker latest podcast - Grapes and Capes, featuring three of our newly released wines.
Check it out at www.thewinestalker.net or on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and Anchor.
"The 2019 Metallico Un-Oaked Chardonnay by Morgan is out of Santa Lucia Highlands and saw 8 months aging in stainless steel. Fuller bodied and very tropical with notes of pineapple, limoncello, pears, and vanilla. A solid $22 un-oaked Chardonnay that you can nurse and take in its intricacies or use as a refreshing thirst quencher. Excellent stuff! Pair with rotisserie chicken or pork.
The 2018 Twelve Clones Pinot Noir by Morgan Winery is from the Double L, Rosella's, Boekenoogen, KW, and Tondré vineyards in Santa Lucia Highlands, California. It saw 9 months in French Oak, 35% of it new. It's got some nice dirt and earthy spice on it, with tart and juicy cranberries, plums, wilting roses, and a perky acidity on the finish followed by grainy tannins. Burgundian in style and very versatile with food pairing. $35 and worth it!
The 2018 Double L Vineyard Syrah by Morgan Winery is out of Santa Lucia Highlands, California. It saw 10 months in French oak, 25% of it new. It's purple in the glass, and fresh from being opened you could have told me it was aged in Tequila barrels and I would have believed you. The next day, that agave was still there but not nearly as aggressive. There's also notes of plums, strawberry, lavender, and lots of pepper. Strong structure and chewy! $44? Heck yeah! Pair with beef stew, sharp cheddar, or smoked crab dip."
We’re all looking for the perfect gifts for the wine and food lovers in our lives (and let’s be honest – that’s almost everyone!) So drop everything and check out Emily’s Holiday Wine Gift Guide on @jetsettingfashionista. She’s featured a high caliber lineup of family-owned Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers, and some fun & fancy culinary accoutrements to boot.
Photo courtesy of The JetSetting Fashionista, by Kelsy Shaffor Photography @kelsyshafforphotography
Are we all ready for Thanksgiving feasting? Whether you plan to dine alone or with your family pod, cooking at home or ordering out or finding a cozy parklet, Laura Ness has lots of ideas on where to find the best fixins. When it comes to picking the best wines to pair with that turkey dinner, Laura chooses Morgan.
“Morgan has you covered if you’re craving a zesty and grapefruit-driven Sauvignon Blanc to cut the dust. Few producers can consistently turn out Pinot Noir the way proprietor Dan Morgan Lee and winemaker, Sam Smith, craft the Double L Pinot. It’s always just big enough, ripe enough and delicious. The Double L Syrah delivers meaty, savory, bacony, fennel-studded goodness to pair with a bacon wrapped turkey, duck or pheasant breast, if you’re thinking of skipping the whole bird. Love the new 2018 Highland Chardonnay, with its core of lemon vanilla custard.” - Laura Ness