Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 24, 2021

2020 Morgan Winery, Dry Riesling, Double L Estate Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Both the organic estate grown Double L Vineyard Rieslings are tasty local treats from the Santa Lucia Highlands with the off-dry Kabinett style going fabulously with Asian foods and or spicy dishes, while this very small batch Dry Riesling goes with the more saline and briny specialties, it is vividly vibrant, truly dry and refreshing with a super clean mineral driven palate. A huge fan of what Dan Lee and winemaker Sam Smith are doing with the lineup here, it seems that every wine in the collection has stepped it up a notch, and while the focus and stars are their 2018 and 2019 Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs, there are some thoughtful gems throughout the range with their latest Double L Syrah and the Rieslings being favorites, these are expressive and outstanding offerings. This 2020 shows a softer and slightly denser feel on the medium bodied palate with an extra degree of texture dialed in, without losing the energy and brisk nature that gives this wine its intensity and focus. The mouth and aromatics are precise with lime blossoms, wet rock, apricot and racy citrus leading the way along with a hint of verbena, herb/mint tea, classic green apple and a touch of tropical fruit. There is a bone dry extract that is compelling and gives an impression of structural tannin or phenolic ripeness that is tangy with just the right amount of bitter detail, an element that quality Rieslings share, whether the are from Alsace or Germany and aligned with the juicy acidity invites more sips. California Dry Riesling has taken off and the quality has never been better, look for Tatomer, Stirm, Cobb, Desire Lines Wine Co, and Joyce as well as classics from Stony Hill and Casa Nuestra, along with Morgan’s pair, to name a few.

The Morgan Double L Dry Riesling saw a gentle foot stomping and left on the skins for 18 hours, then the grapes were whole-cluster pressed, and for freshness and bright fruit character was preserved by a cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Smith, has now done a few limited batches of this drier Riesling or Trocken, where the fermentation was allowed to finish, achieving this more crisp dry style and it has proved to be a huge success. The Double L Ranch is the only certified organic vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands and is located in a cool breezy zone on sandy loams at the northern end of region, which suits the low yielding Riesling vines. For this 2020 he gave it a bit more time in the used wood, with a full 8 months of aging in neutral French oak, which has given the Double L Estate Dry Riesling a bit more refinement, as I noted above it has a slightly smoother texture and lush mouth feel, which should appeal to a wider array of palates, while not losing the acid freaks and Riesling enthusiasts, like me, this wine sits somewhere between the Rheinhessen and the Pfalz profile wise, not too far off the entry level Wittmann estate Trocken. Impressive for a Monterey Riesling, and a wine to grab with the local cuisine, especially seasonal crab and or more exotic dishes like Uni. With time in the glass this ultra pale, almost greenish hued Dry Riesling adds a touch more substance and fleshiness, though keeps its natural tension and steely personality, again this is much to be admired. There is a lot to explore in the latest releases from Morgan and all offer quality drinking pleasures, and some of the rarities are really worth chasing down, like their Tempranillo, Albrarino and these Rieslings, which are exceptionally well priced for what you get in the bottle.
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive