Wine has been coming here fast and furious these days, and we just received our latest shipment from “A Taste of Monterey.” We encountered this wine club on our first trip to Carmel and were pleased to find that they could ship us wine, way back when Michigan was a felony state, because the administration preferred it, at the expense of the wine collectors, and it actually took a law suit to correct that issue, and I can happily say that our former Lady Governor is no longer even a resident. Of course, that is another story, but I was happy to unpack the current shipment, as we expected it, as we are aware of the transaction as soon as it is charged.
The first bottle was Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Highland Reserve Chardonnay 2016, and this wine is part of the Wagner Family of Wine, as in Caymus of Napa Valley. The family first started winemaking in the Napa Valley after purchasing seventy acres of land in 1906, of course that was short lived as Prohibition arrived and wiped out the majority of winemakers. In 1972, the Wagner family re-entered the wine business with the launch of Caymus Vineyards. Sixteen years later, Chuck Wagner branched out and started planting Chardonnay vines in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, beginning the production of Mer Soleil Chardonnay. By 2001, Chuck’s son Charlie F. Wagner II had taken the reins and in 2005 he created the unoaked Silver Chardonnay label, which I have tasted and written about.
In the 1990’s they began the Mer Soleil label, though it was originally called “Barrel Fermented Chardonnay.” So now they make two versions of Chardonnay, the Silver which is unoaked from Monterey and the Reserve which is from the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey. The wine is aged from twelve to fifteen months in French Oak for a rich creamy texture. For the Wagner Family of Wine, this is a very small production of nine-hundred cases and they feel that it has the aging potential of eight to ten years which is quite impressive. The trade notes that they offer is that it has a nose of bright freshness, and flavors of ripe peach and lemon meringue pie (you can tell that I did not write that) and a balanced finish of creamy roundness. A wine that sounds very interesting to me, but then I have not been disappointed by any wine from the Santa Lucia Highlands and I am sure that this wine will not last long in the cellar.