Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Morgan, “Metallico” Chardonnay, Monterey, 2007, $22

This is the seventh vintage of “Metallico ,” an unoaked Chablis-styled chardonnay from the always reliable and often exciting Morgan winery in Monterey, Calif.

Back in 2001, hardly any California vintners made chardonnay without aging the wine in wooden barrels. Today, when many experiment with a vibrant unwooded style, Morgan’s experience helps it stand out as a quality leader.

When fermented and aged in wood, chardonnay picks up sweet, sometimes toasty or vanilla-tinged flavors. It also becomes fuller in body, with a creamy, even buttery texture. By contrast, if fermented in stainless steel, chardonnay will be lighter-bodied and taste first and foremost of fresh fruit. Any secondary characteristics will reflect the vineyard, not the winemaking.

The vineyards in Chablis, France, are full of chalk, giving the wines echoing minerality. In Monterey, where the soils are richer, the wines do not hint at anything except succulent, ripe fruit.

Without any wood interfering with those flavors, this particular wine tastes wonderfully pure. Though very fresh, it’s rich enough to accompany salmon, lobster or all sorts of poultry dishes and will be sure to delight if sipped on a late summer eve.

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