Morgan Winery: The Upper Echelon of California Pinot Noir Production
Morgan Winery has proven itself to be one of California’s most consistent producers of excellent Pinot Noir. the
origins of the winery date to 1982 when Daniel Morgan Lee, a UC Davis graduate and his spouse Donna Lee
launched Morgan Winery in their spare time. At a time that precedes the approval of the Santa Lucia Highlands
as a recognized AVA, the couple moved into their own winery in Salinas and released their first Pinot Noir in
Their famed Double L Vineyard, one of my “Elite” California Pinot Noir vineyards, was initially planted in 1997
and 1998 in the northern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands neighboring Rosella’s and Garys’ vineyards.
Organically certified in 2001, the 48.5-acre Double L Vineyard became the first and only Monterey County
Certified Organic property in the Santa Lucia Highlands.
The winery’s lineup of Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir is focused on the estate Double L Vineyard but other
superb partner vineyards are also featured as single-vineyard wines. The winery’s Chardonnay wines I have
reviewed have also been upper class. The winemakers are Dan Lee and Sam Smith.
Tasting is available daily at the Crossroads Shopping Center of Carmel. Most wines are available for purchase
on the winery’s website at www.morganwinery.com.
The 2019 vintage commenced with bud break in late March, after a cold February and yearly precipitation of 16%
above average. Slightly warmer than average temperatures started in April. A rain even in May gave the vines
an extra drink, although this caused increased mildew concerns. The subsequent warm temperatures helped to
achieve wines with excellent phenolic, medium acid, and flavor balance.
2018 Morgan Double L Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.62, 748
cases, $65. Clones 667 and 777 (organic grapes). 100% de-stemmed. Native and cultured yeasts began the
fermentation in open-top tanks. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderate garnet color in the
glass. Very appealing and fresh aromas of cherry, strawberry, and a hint of oak spice. The mid-weight flavors of
dark red cherry really stick to the palate. Nicely balanced, with juicy acidity, a trace of tannins, and some length
on the raspberry coulis inspired finish. This wine is a food magnet.
2019 Morgan Double L Vineyard Clone 114 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.45, T
0.59, 97 cases, $65. Grapes were hand sorted in the
vineyard and a second time at the winery before destemming.
Whole berry fermentation started with native
and cultured yeasts. The wine was aged for 10 months
in French oak barrels, 50% new.
A single 114 clone
Pinot Noir is a rarity. Organic clone 114 grapes. Aromas
of blueberry, black cherry, clay, spice and a floral imprint.
Mid-weight plus in concentration, with generous
amounts of earth-toned blueberry, boysenberry and
pomegranate fruit flavors framed by a noticeable but not
imposing tannic spine. Picks up appeal over time in the
glass and although not too complicated, it drew me in
with its irresistible core of fruit flavors.
2019 Morgan Double L Vineyard Clone LT Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.62,
105 cases, $65. Clone LT refers to one of the most celebrated Pinot Noir vineyards in Burgundy. A small block
of this suitcase clone was grafted at the top of Double L Vineyard. Organic grapes. 100% de-stemmed. Aged
10 months in French oak barrels, 35% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Stellar aromas of black
cherry, purple grape and dried herbs. A saturating impact of black cherry and blackberry fruits greet the palate
and persist through a very long finish. Excellent harmony with juicy acidity and balanced tannins. The wine
seems to glide on the mid-palate. Very satisfying and forward drinking.
2019 Morgan Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.60, 96 cases,
$65. 100% de-stemmed Pisoni clone. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 50%
Wines from this vineyard always stand out. Moderate garnet color in the glass. Beautifully perfumed with
scents of black cherry, black raspberry and dark rose petal. A luscious black cherry core immediately brings the
palate to attention. Very flavorful but refreshing and elegant. This wine a quintessential example of an iron fist
in a velvet glove. Refined and classy, with an exceptional finish of uncommon length.
2019 Morgan Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0,59, 96
cases, $65. Pisoni clone, 100% de-stemmed. Native yeast fermentation in open-top tanks. Manual punch
downs. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. My, my,
what a great nose. Soaring aromas of red cherry and strawberry fruits, Xmas spice and red rose petal. Light to
mid-weight in style with a gorgeous expression of red cherry fruit backed by a compliment of oak. Beautiful
harmony and a bright, lasting, and thirst-quenching finish.
2019 Morgan Tondré Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.57, 113
cases, $65. Clones 114 and 777. 100% de-stemmed after hand sorting. Manual punch downs. Aged 10 months
in French oak barrels, 45% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, spice, toast
and burnt tobacco. Mid-weight flavors of plum, blueberry, boysenberry and black raspberry with a touch of
spice and espresso. Refreshing to drink, with a generous and very lengthy finish.
2019 Morgan Boekenoogen Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0,57, 119
cases, $65. A high-altitude vineyard located at the northern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands. 100% destemmed
grapes after hand sorting. Native yeast fermentation in open-top tanks. Manual punch downs. Aged
10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Effusive aromas of
cherry pie and complimentary oak. Deep cherry and raspberry flavors showing noticeable power . Some Asian
spices add interest. Impressive unison with peaceful tannins and a congruent acid spine. Delivers a satisfying
message on the finish.