2021 Morgan Winery, Dry Riesling, Double L Estate Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Morgan’s awesome 2021 Dry Riesling is bursting with an electric like intensity of flavors with lime aid, lemon zesty, green apple and tart peach fruits leading the way in this absolutely pure varietal and steely wine, it is incredibly impressive and exciting stuff. There is tons of personality here and bone dry salinity along with hints of white blossoms, sea shore, wet gravel/loam and chamomile in this brisk lighter framed white. The vines here are plantings dating back to 1997 making them nicely mature, they are extremely well cared for with holistic methods that owner Dan Lee pioneered here, in fact Morgan’s Double L Estate Vineyard is the only certified organic vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands, though now many others have seen the benefits and heading in that direction. Located at the cooler northern end of the AVA, the vineyard’s north-south row orientation provides optimal balance between the cold winds and warm sun exposure leading to perfectly ripe grapes that have beautiful fruit density and still retain refreshing vitality. The well draining sandy clayey Chualar Loams, which are granitic based soils help give this wine its mineral tones and fruit concentration, with 2021 smaller yields aiding in the depth found in this crisp Riesling. On a side note, Morgan had trouble finding “Hock” bottles, the tall thin glass that you usually see Alsace and German wines in, so they put this Riesling in their Burgundy style glass, making it harder to see on shelf, but not affecting its stunning presence in the glass. I tried this pale greenish/gold Riesling at Morgan’s tasting room in the Carmel Crossroads Shopping center, and it was available to take home, though very limited, as well as on their website.

The winemaking was simple and classic, with the Riesling grapes being hand picked, then the clusters were, as the Winery notes, foot stomped and left to macerate on the skins overnight, then the juice was cold settled after gentle pressing. This vintage, with its cool intensity, shows tons of energy, extract and vibrant fruit character which was preserved by cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The winery says too, that the fermentation was allowed to finish completely, thus achieving this dry or trocken style, after which the wine was rested in neutral French oak for about 4 months, this further added to the wine’s complexity and gave a little texture that cut into the bright acidity that is a hallmark of this grape. Winemaker Sam Smith and Dan Lee have experimented with this drier example of Riesling over the last few years, making only small batches, like this one, of which only around 60 cases were made, to compliment their slightly off-dry or Kabinett style version they’ve done historically, which is also tasty, by the way and great with spicy foods. This Dry Riesling joins some of the best I’ve tasted of California Rieslings, like those of Tatomer, Cobb, Desire Lines, which is my favorite in modern times, as well as classic producers like Stony Hill, Casa Nuestra, Smit-Madrone and Navarro, to name a few. This brilliant and crystalline release is just one of Morgan’s exceptional set of new wines, which include their signature Double L Pinot and Chard from the 2019 vintage, the estate Syrah, which is fabulous too, Smith, who joined the winery in 2016, has really made a huge difference here and I highly recommend checking out his latest efforts. This 2021 Dry Riesling will age well, but I love its expressive zesty youthfulness right now and see it going great with Sushi and or briny fresh oysters, don’t wait to get yours, these will go fast, as most of these are earmarked for their wine club.
($24 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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