2018 Morgan Winery, Syrah, Double L Estate Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Throughout Morgan’s latest releases there’s tons to get excited about, almost every wine in the lineup has seen a big jump in quality with the 2017, 2018 and 2019s, no small part of that can be credited to the arrival of winemaker Sam Smith, who’s brought the best here and his touch with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and in particular this Syrah is now on full display. Morgan has long been a top winery in Monterey, but these new wines are next level stuff and it is a great time to re-discover this label. This 2018 Double L Syrah, which for the first time has partial whole cluster, is strikingly aromatic and thrilling in the glass with crushed violets, meaty dark berries, a touch of smoke, camphor, green herbs and peppery spices leading to a medium to full bodied feeling out with elegant and vivid layers of boysenberry, damson plum, mulberry and creme de cassis along with touches of wild sage, earth, bacon, brambly cinnamon, black olives, vanilla. This cool long growing season adds a certain freshness here, but look forward to this wine to gain dimension with age and note this wine is at its best with hearty food and best when decanted for an hour.

The grapes for Morgan’s Double L Syrah are all hand-picked from their organic home ranch vines and carefully sorted for, as the winery puts it, optimal flavor and acidity. These are the very last grapes to come in for Morgan and show the regions cool climate and sandy loam terroir character with a deep color, depth of complexity and moderate alcohol with this full bodied wine coming in at just a tick over 14%, but with loads of bright intensity. After coming into the winery most of the grapes see de-stemming 90% leaving about 10% as whole bunches, the must is then fermented using native yeasts in small open-top tanks with the wine seeing foot trodding and hand punch downs until being pressed when dry. In an effort to promote purity and still have smooth textures the Double L Syrah was aged ten months in luxurious French oak with close to 25% being new. This is my favorite vintage of this wine to date, this is lusty stuff that joins some of the elite Syrah offerings in the state and especially here in the Highlands, like Lucia (Pisoni) and Roar and sits equally in terms of pleasure to their Chardonnay and Pinots. Just 200 cases of the Cote-Rotie like and invitingly dark purple 2018 Double L Syrah were made, so I highly recommend getting some before it sells out, this wine is truly outstanding for the price.
($44 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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