2021 Morgan Winery, Chardonnay “Clone 76” Double L Estate Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
The Morgan Winery, led by Dan Lee and his family, is on a roll with a top notch collection of estate and non estate wines in the lineup, but especially with their awesome organic estate bottlings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with wines like this Double L Clone 76 Chardonnay giving world class performances. Winemaker Sam Smith, who has taken this label to new heights in recent vintages and has a truly gifted touch with Chardonnay and this new 2021 release highlights the talent here and captures the best of what the Santa Lucia Highlands can do with this grape. This brilliant pale golden Chardonnay is remarkably stony in personality and pulsates with a fine energy, its personality is like a perfect combination of California richness and Burgundy like elegance and mineral toned with the ability to shine by itself, but fabulous with food. The pure, delicately aromatic, vivid and almost steely medium to full bodied palate shows its depth with an array of white peach, apple, pear, lemon and restrained pineapple fruits that unfolds nicely with wet stone, clove spice, chalky oyster shell, a hint of yeasty hazelnut brioche, vinous creaminess, light vanilla (oak) notes and a touch of fig. The regular Double L bottling, which is a stunning wine too, feels a bit weightier and is more flamboyant and this one provides a cool contrast to that and will be absolutely great with a variety of cuisine, in particular local sea foods.

Morgan Winery founder Dan Lee’s Double L Estate Vineyard was originally planted back in 1997, today Morgan’s and is the only fully certified organic vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands, which has proven itself to be one of the top sites in the region with its cool climate and quality small yields producing exceptional grapes. This cru is located at the northern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, and as Lee notes, the vineyard’s north-south row orientation provides optimal wind and sun exposure here, with the sandy loamy soils giving good drainage and promotes deep roots for added concentration and complexity in the wines. This place is ideal for Pinot Noir, Syrah, plus Riesling, which is showing great promise under winemaker Sam Smith and especially Chardonnay, as this gorgeous 2021 vintage shows. The winery says, Clone 76 a “Dijon” clone of Chardonnay is valued for its early ripening, smaller yields, and fruity tropical notes, with the area’s nice natural acidity complimenting this genetic version of the grape. Lee has just over one acre of Clone 76 planted at Double L that is all hand-picked, then hand-sorted at the winery, after which they get gently pressed and settled before the juice is racked to barrel. This vintage of Clone 76 Chardonnay, which I highly recommend, was fermented and aged in 25% new French oak, where it matured for 9 months, seeing about 90% full malo-lactic conversion and lees stirring to help this racy vintage round out with just about perfect balance, with its impressive tension and texture.
($46 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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