- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Morgan, Pinot Noir “Twelve Clones,” Santa Lucia Highlands, 2004, $30

West Coast pinot noir has become all the rage. Inspired in part by the success of the movie “Sideways” but more by the fact that the quality of the wines keeps getting better, red-wine drinkers are buying more and more pinot.

As demand outpaces supply, it’s getting harder and harder to find the top wines from the top producers.

Morgan, in eastern Monterey County in California, definitely is one of those producers. Owner Dan Lee and winemaker Gianni Abate fashion consistently first-rate pinot noirs — sensual, seductive wines marked by full flavor as well as style and grace.

For some reason, though, Morgan’s wines are not as well-known on the East Coast as they are out West. As a result, they don’t all get purchased immediately by connoisseurs upon their release, and savvy consumers can find them in well-stocked wine shops.

The recently released “Twelve Clones” pinot from Morgan comes from grapes grown in a number of vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands, including the winery’s own Double L property. Fruit-filled, it tastes of dark cherries with a spicy undertone, just the right amount of balancing acidity and a hint (rather than a shout) of oak.

Flashy and exuberant because it is young, this wine promises to become more refined and compelling with a couple of years of cellaring. Whether you drink it in the near term or save it for a future special occasion, it’s an excellent example of why American pinot noir is in such demand.

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