2016 Morgan, Chardonnay, Double L Vineyard, Estate, Santa Lucia Highlands.
I think this latest Double L Chardonnay from Dan Lee and winemaker Sam Smith just might be the best white Morgan wine I’ve ever tried, it’s a gorgeous Chardonnay of remarkable class and complexity. Showing bright intensity and subtle richness, this 2016 Morgan Double L gains layers and depth with every sip and is very white Burgundy like in balance and poise, while still being true to sense of place with hints of tropical fruit and mouth filling texture. The Double L Vineyard was fully certified organic in 2002, although it has always been farmed using these methods since it’s original planting back in 1997, it sits near the northern tip of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA with east facing terraces to get the best sun exposure, while still getting all that cooling influences as the vines receive brisk afternoon breezes from nearby Monterey Bay and acid retaining cold night time temps, perfect for Chardonnay. This vintage seems more refined and intriguing that prior releases in my experience and I think the approach here shows this vineyard it’s best potential, the 2016 was crafted with great care and precision with less new oak being employed, the ripe grapes were gently pressed whole cluster, which according to the Morgan team yields the highest quality juice. It was then barrel fermented in French oak, of which 15% was in new toasty barriques, while the rest in a combination of one & two year old casks with about 90% going through full malo-lactic fermentation and raised sur lie, which means there was lees stirring to promote glycerin and creamy smoothness. There’s a lot to love about the current lineup at Morgan, and I hear some of the 2017 stuff looks even better, so be sure to check in on Morgan soon, I have tasted with winemaker Sam Smith on more than a few occasions and have been thrilled by what he is doing there, and this wine looks like just the beginning of a new era of greatness. I recently sampled this Double L Chardonnay along with Morgan’s stylish 2017 Rose of Grenache and generous Double L Riesling, and while known for their Pinot Noir, this Double L Chardonnay was by far the star on the night and I couldn’t help myself going back for seconds and thirds of this beautiful wine. Starting with white flowers, citrus, mineral spice and orchard fruits the 2016 Morgan Double L adds rich detail and an array of apple, pear and white peach fruit along with lemony tones, hazelnut/brioche, a touch of wet stones, saline, delicate pineapple and just the right amount of vanilla, clarified cream and toast notes. This wine is nicely decedent, but still lifted and lively, it should drink wonderfully for another 3 to 5 years with ease, going great with many cuisine options from soft cheeses to lobster, and especially fresh caught fish in butter sauces.
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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