- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Morgan, Chardonnay, “Double L Vineyard,” Santa LuciaHighlands, 2002, $35

Morgan, a California winery that sometimes flies under the radar screen here on the East Coast, has quietly become a leader in the production of extremely high-quality chardonnay and pinot noir from Monterey County. If you’re a fan of first-class California wine, you owe it to yourself to try Morgan.

Based in the town of Salinas, smack in the middle of the broccoli and lettuce fields that make Salinas Valley “America’s salad bowl,” Morgan purchases grapes from growers throughout Monterey.

Many of these negociant wines can be excellent. Owners Dan and Donna Morgan Lee also own a vineyard of their own — Double L — in the prestigious Santa Lucia Highlands. The chardonnay from this site, though coming from young vines, can be very special.

Double L, short for “Double Luck” in honor of the Morgans’ twin daughters, was planted in the late 1990s and is farmed organically. The pinot noir, with bright cherry-scented flavors, reflects the vineyard’s youth, as the wines don’t yet have the sort of nuanced depth that comes with vine age. The chardonnay, however, is sumptuous. It already ranks with the very finest examples of the varietal in California.

This wine exhibits the lush texture characteristic of any top-level chardonnay, with oak and fruit in near perfect balance, the apple, pear and citrus flavors being enhanced by a toasty undertone. It should age well for a couple of years, but it tastes absolutely delicious now, so there’s no reason to wait. Enjoy it with all sorts of poultry or seafood dishes. I had it with chicken picata — a fantastic match.

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