Wine of the Week: 2016 Morgan Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Another of my favorite quotes from the book, this sentiment is one of which finds me in hearty agreement, but alas the world we live in today seems to be a bit more caught up in not only in the pursuit of gold but also gain notoriety (aka, hello instafame). Laying that aside, it's time for the Wine of Week, and the coveted spotlight for WOTW fame comes from Morgan found in the Santa Lucia Highlands, a sub-appellation of the great Monterey appellation in the foothills of the Salinas Valley.

Now that said, the tale I'm about to tell is all about "cheer," indeed something we can all 'clink' our glasses together and rejoice. About what you may ask, well finding some superbly well made Chardonnay, that you should be running out to purchase this very moment, what are you waiting for?

When the average vino-sapiens thinks of quality Chardonnay; the Santa Lucia Highlands may not be the first thing that comes to mind right away, but I'm here to tell you that it should be. Why, because there are some extraordinary wines are being produced in this area, and the quality to price ratios are excellent as well. Where, just south and east of Monterey, Big Sur is direct to the east, and the vineyard sites look down into the Salinas Valley. You'll find many of the SLH wineries have a tasting room presence in the city of Monterey as well.

So much attention goes to red wines, but down in the nitty-gritty world of off-premise wine shopping, read that, chain (grocery) stores, Chardonnay rules the roost of what is moving and shaking. The coveted cold box endcap is chock full of Chardonnay as well, then Sauvignon Blanc, Rose and bubbly. On the shelves, most (generally speaking) stores divide their aisles with white on one side and red on the other. On the white side, Chardonnay owns 65% of that precious real estate, and for a good reason, it has a long history of rich aromas and inviting flavors which are great to drink on its own and also pair easily with a variety of foods. 

For those of you looking to get your hands on wines which are Organically Certified, you'll be happy to know that starting with their 2002 vintages and moving forward you can have confidence they're following an 'organic' certification process for all grapes grown within its Double L vineyards. It's important to know that because they don't use many of the viticultural sprays some folks find unappealing. However, if a vineyard would like to become 'certified' organic, there's a long, lengthy process to convert to organic practices. Someone from the certifying board will come out to verify the procedures and conversion parameters are adhered to over a three year period before certification can is to be granted.

Morgan 2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay: In the glass, the wine is light in appearance, a thinly veiled straw color and clarity wise it was clear. Soon as I got a splash of this bad boy in my glass I knew, I was in for a real treat. Vivid aromas escaped easily from the glass, fall apples and ripe pairs mingle nicely with caramelized oak, and you could smell the freshly buttered toast and vanilla richness, giving an open invitation to dive in.

A barrel aged Chardonnay that spends 8 months in twenty-six percent new oak, the balance neutral oak barrels. The fruit was sourced from their Double L vineyard located in the SLH and most likely grown on Wente Clone and possibly self-rooted. Quick tasting notes, this wine is charming, suave and sophisticated, from the first splash to the last drop. Don’t chill this bottle too much or you’ll miss all its subtle nuances.

This wine is no slouch in the flavor department either; delivers baking spices, wet-stone, clove, hazelnut and a bite of crisp, ripe apples, plumbed with mouth-watering acidity, keeping the vibrant fruit in check. The finish is long and lasting. A perfect wine to pair with food or to simply drink on its own. I scored this wine 91 points, this is the everyday drinking category. A fantastic value selling for under $30, I'm a huge fan of Chardonnay from this region. Expect to see more reviews regarding Morgan Winery, as they've sent their entire portfolio for the review process; I'm greatly impressed so far. That's all I have for you today folks, remember life is short, so don't settle for cheap commodity wines, explore, uncork something new and by all means, continue to sip long and prosper cheers!

Full Disclosure: Reviewed wines are from medias sample provided (not for sale) for the review process.

All original content: Including text and photographs remain the copyright of the author, (W.R. Eyer) except where otherwise noted.


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