2023 Morgan Winery, Dry Riesling, Double L Estate Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
This ultra pale and bone dry Trocken style Morgan Double L Vineyard Riesling, a limited alternative version, is wildly aromatic, briskly mouth watering and full of steely intensity with racy lime themed citrus, bitter melon, unripe apricot, green apple and quince fruits, salty wet stones, saline, verbena, orange blossom, rosewater and chamomile tea notes. Coming in at around 11%, this is truly and thrillingly dry stuff and will really appeal to acid head and enthusiast Riesling freaks, which describes me pretty well and I was lucky to try this one, plus the slightly off dry Kabinett inspired version too, both of which are fantastic in this 2023 vintage, and I highly recommend them, neither has any overt sweetness and are vibrant with lighter framed and energy filled palates. The vines here, as mentioned in my prior reviews, are plantings that date 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, which help give this wine its mineral tones, zingy acidity and good fruit concentration, all of which gave winemaker Sam Smith the raw material to craft some outstanding Rieslings. I love crispy Dry Riesling, and this 2023 edition reminds me of some of favorites, more in the lines of Rheinhessen and Pfalz Trockens.

The winemaking for Morgan’s Dry Riesling was thoughtful and similar to how Sam Smith did the 2021, with these organic 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 vivid, expression and nervy 2023 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, again of which, only a few barrels 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. Morgan has put out an amazing set of wines in the last few years, with the full collection here, especially the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays being of note, being excellent and stylish wines that reflect to commitment to quality that the Lee’s have and the distinctive terroir where the grapes are grown. Again, I tried this clean, zesty and refreshing Dry Riesling at Morgan’s tasting room in the Carmel Crossroads Shopping center, and it was available to take home, though mostly to their Wine Club, as well as on their website. I suggest not waiting too long to get this one, it sold out fast last year and this vintage is the best yet!
($26 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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