It's not a huge leap from veterinary medicine to winemaking, and that leap is made even shorter when you're enrolled at UC Davis which happens to be the top school in the nation for both. Dan Lee initially thought he wanted to work with animals, but a few courses as electives during his vet school tenure were enough to convince him to immediately enroll in the Enology program as soon as he finished his undergraduate degree.
While he still loves animals, Dan hasn't looked back, graduating and continuing on to become a winemaker for Jekel and Durney (now Heller Estate), all the while plotting to start Morgan Winery. In 1982 he and his wife Donna celebrated their inaugural vintage with the release of a Chardonnay and since then have been making Chardonnays, Pinots, Cabernets, and Sauvignon Blancs with fruit sourced from other vineyards, and starting in 1999 with fruit from their own vineyard, the "Double L."
With the maturation of this vineyard, Dan has switched both to all Monterey County fruit as well as to completely organic farming of his vineyard site. Dan also continues to make several wines from fruit sourced in the Monterrey appellation, including this wine.
This is not the first wine that I've reviewed from the famed Pinot Noir vineyard owned by Gary Pisoni. I'll spare regular readers the retreading of old ground, but if you're interested in more about what may be the most famous Pinot vineyard in California, you can read more about the Pisoni Vineyard here.
Dan sourced 550 cases worth of fruit from Pisoni and fermented it with native yeasts before ageing it in French oak barrels (Francois Freres) for 14 months.
It is worth noting that Dan recently was awarded the designation of being San Francisco Chronicles "Winemaker of the Year" for what is an ever increasingly impressive portfolio of wines.
Deep blood red in color this wine has a splashy, juicy nose with scents of wild strawberry, mulling spices, and incense. On the palate it shows flavors of cherry, sweet oak, sawdust and a bright acidity that drives a long clean finish with hints of tea and wet earth.
Despite some bright fruit, this is a more Burgundian style Pinot Noir that will go better with more savory dishes like this chicken crepe with asparagus and mushrooms. I had it with herb roasted Salmon and it did pretty well with that, too.
Overall Score: 9
How Much?: $30
I got mine from Porthos, but they seem to be out of it at the moment and the 2001 is already in stores. Wine Searcher says several people on the Internet and one retailer in San Francisco have the '01.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
I'll Drink to That: Danilo Nada of Nada Fiorenzo Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 8/23 Vinography Images: Night Sorting Small is Beautiful: The Champagnes of Savart I'll Drink to That: Karl duHoffmann of Anchor Brewing Warm Up: Jerez de la Frontera I'll Drink to That: Antonio Flores of González Byass California 2015 - Vintage of Fire Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 8/16 A Selection of Georgian Wines
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune