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 a wide variety of high quality wines with fruit sourced from other vineyards, and starting in 1999, with fruit from their own vineyard, the “Double L.”
With the maturation of their estate vineyard, Lee switched to focus exclusively on Monterey County fruit as well as to completely organic farming at the estate. Winemaker Gianni Abate also came aboard, fresh from a career as winemaker at some of the country’s largest wine companies, including Bronco, Delicato, and Robert Mondavi Winery, allowing Lee to assume the title and responsibilities of “Winegrower.”
After more than 25 years, the Morgan portfolio includes more than 20 wines, including those produced under the second label “Lee Family Farm.”
This particular wine is part of a group of wines dubbed “Morgan Classics” which tend to be the winery’s lower priced offerings, blended from fruit sources around Monterey county.
An equal blend of Syrah and Grenache from central and southern Monterey county, the wine is fermented in large open-top vats, and receives frequent punch downs to mix the skins and pulp of the grapes down into the juice. After fermentation is complete, the wine ages for 10 months in French oak barrels of which approximately 18% are new, while the balance are made up of one, two, and three-year-old barrels. The lack of much new oak means that the wine has very little trace of oak in it, showing instead its bright fruit and herbal notes.
The vineyards which yield the grapes for this wine are based in the Arroyo Seco and San Lucas sections of the Monterey Appellation, sitting inland from the coast, but still moderated by cooler ocean-borne air currents, and night-time fog that drops the temperatures towards chilly at night.
I was thrilled with this wine when I tasted it, both on its merits, and then when I found out how much it cost, on its strength of value. I don’t often comment on the price of wines, as I prefer to let everyone make up their own minds about what good value means, but I can’t avoid mentioning that this is a terrific wine for the price.
Full disclosure: I received this wine as a press sample.
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and blackberry with a hint of briary green herbs. In the mouth, the wine has a bright fresh fruitiness with great acidity and wonderful wet stone minerality. A nice sour cherry quality lingers on the finish. A fantastic value. 4200 cases produced. A blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah. 13.5% alcohol.
With a low alcohol and high acidity, this wine will go with anything you’d want a nice light red with, from fish to red meat. I just had some al pastor pork tacos for lunch and I can tell you, a glass of this wine would have been perfect.
Overall Score: around 9
How Much?: $15
This wine is available for purchase on the Internet.