Morgan Winery: New Releases from Monterey & the Santa Lucia Highlands

Dan and Donna Lee

Morgan Winery is one of Monterey County’s finest wineries, producing a wide variety of high quality wines. Owner and winemaker Dan Lee and wife Donna Lee built this winery from the ground up starting in 1982. They are true pioneers of Monterey County having built their own state-of- the art winery in Salinas in 1984 and purchased a 65-acre vineyard estate in the northern reaches of  the Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH) in 1996.

These new releases are from Dan Lee’s organically farmed “Double L Vineyard” estate and grapes purchased from other growers in Monterey County. His own estate is planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a small amount of Syrah from which he produces his own flagship single vineyard wines. He also produces single vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noir from other outstanding SLH vineyards such as Garys’ Vineyard and Tondre Grapefield with the help of winemaker Gianni Abate.

Winemaker Gianni Abate

Dan Lee is also experimental by nature and likes to work with a wide variety of grapes like Pinot Gris, Grenache, and the Portuguese varietals.  These grapes are sourced from Ron Silva’s Silvaspoons Vineyard located in the Alta Mesa AVA. The wines are released under Morgan’s sister label, Lee Family Farm.

The wines reviewed here are a good selection of the 20 white and red wines produced under the Morgan Winery and Lee Family Farm labels. These are very well made wines and exhibit the high quality fruit, elegance and balance that are the widely recognized qualities of Morgan wines.

For other recent reviews of Dan Lee’s wines, readers are encouraged to consult Report #29 The Wines of Monterey County October 2011 and use the search on www.i-winereview.com

Morgan 2011 Metallico Monterey ($21) 91  This offering is a great example of pure Chardonnay without oak or malolactic fermentation. It is rich tasting with delicious melon fruit flavors, medium weight, good balance, freshness, acidity and a fine finish.  One of California’s finest un-oaked Chardonnays.

Morgan 2010 Highland Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands ($26) 91  The Highland Chardonnay offers a star bright yellow robe and fragrant aromas of stone and tropical fruit. It is ripe and flavorful on the palate with hints of toasted oak, almonds and vanilla. A full flavored delicious wine that is easy to drink. Great value, too.

Morgan 2010 Chardonnay Double L Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($40) 91+  The 2010 Chardonnay Double L Vineyard is the 10th release of this bottling. It exhibits a yellow gold color and is fruit forward in style, offering aromas of ripe melon, pear and hints of toast. It is nicely structured on the palate with light creamy mouth filling fruit, excellent acidity and a long elegant finish.

Lee Family Farm 2010 Verdelho Silvaspoons Vineyard  Alta Mesa  ($15) 89  The 2010 Verdelho is a delicious wine exhibiting a green hue, tropical fruit aromas and flavors and hints of spice.  It is fruit forward in character, soft on the attack and reveals freshness with good crisp acidity on the finish.

Morgan 2009 Côtes du Crow’s Monterey ($18) 88+  The Côtes du Crow is an attractive blend of 55% Syrah and 45% Grenache. It is sourced from grapes in the Arroyo Seco and San Lucas sub AVAs of Monterey County.  The wine offers dark plum and cherry fruit with herbal notes.  Aged for 10 months in French oak barrels, only 20% new, the wine exhibits welcome freshness of fruit, good acidity and a lingering dark fruit finish.

Lee Family Farm Silvaspoons Vineyard Rio Tinto  Lodi ($16) 89  The 2009 Rio Tinto is a blend of Portuguese grape varieties consisting of 19% Touriga Francesa, 19% Alvarelhão, 28% Touriga Nacional and 34% Tinta Roriz. It is ripe and spicy with black and red fruit flavors and notes of violets. It is round on the palate with good mouth feel, nicely honed tannins and lingering fruit flavors. Exotic and tasty.

Morgan 2011 Pinot Gris R & L Franscioni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($18) 89  The Morgan 2011 Pinot Gris displays a delicate nose of flowers and yellow melon with a hint of fennel. On the palate it is beautifully balanced and elegant, with refined fruit flavors, good acidity and a long finish. The wine was whole cluster pressed, cold fermented in stainless steel tanks, and aged for three months in neutral oak.
Morgan 2010 Pinot Noir Double L Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($50) 92  The Pinot Noir Double L Vineyard boasts a dark ruby color and aromas of pure dark cherry fruit, light smoke and cedar. It is soft and velvet smooth on the palate with ripe and peppery, spicy red fruit flavors, good balance, soft round tannins and a long finish.
Morgan 2009 Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($50) 93  The Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard displays a dark ruby color and aromas of ripe cherry, plum and earth on the nose. Aged for 10 months in 50% new Burgundian barrels, it is beautifully focused on the palate with spicy dark berry fruit flavors, soft round tannins and a long, long finish.  Produced from one of the top Pinot Noir vineyards in California.
Morgan 2009 Pinot Noir Tondre Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands ($50) 91+  The 2009 Pinot Noir Tondre Grapefield offers a velvet smooth attack with ripe dark berry fruit, spice and cedar. Aged for 10 months in French oak barrels (50% new), it is soft and elegant on the palate with flavors of plum and hints of leather, cedar and earth. The winv has soft round tannins, good structure and a long finish. Nicely done.     

Morgan 2010 Pinot Noir Twelve Clones Santa Lucia Highlands ($32) 90+  The Pinot Noir Twelve Clones is a blend of grapes from Morgan’s Double L Vineyard and several other SLH vineyards. It reveals fresh-tasting red cherry fruit with hints of earth and spice on the nose. It shows light and elegant red berry fruit flavors on the palate with good acidity, round tannins and a firm finish.     

Morgan 2009 Syrah Monterey ($20) 87+  The Syrah offers aromas of fragrant plum and black currant fruit. These are followed by an attack of dense and lush fruit with moderate flavor intensity, firm tannins and a long finish. Aged in 25% new oak for 13 months.

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler

 

Note:  This article was previously published on our home page under Wine Reviews.

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