Morgen Long- One Grape, One Place, One Focus
Beaune Imports, The Wine Country’s leading provider of French wine, doesn’t do much work in the way of wines from North America, so when our rep tells me they have something for me from the Willamette Valley, I was intrigued. I already have a special place in my heart for Oregon wine. As many of you who know me know, I spent my college years up there, it is where I fell in love with Pinot Noir. Oregon is where I found my palate and my love affair with wine began.
Randy, the owner of The Wine Country, has been telling me for over a year now to be on the lookout for the new generation of Oregon Chardonnays, but I was having a hard time finding wines that weren’t trying to be California Chardonnay. The ones I have found for the store stand out to me as being uniquely Oregon, and the wines from Morgen Long are no exception. From the first moment I stuck my nose in the glass before I even tasted the wine, I called over Samantha (our French wine buyer) because I knew she would want to experience this. We took a sip and were immediately sold. “In a blind tasting I would think this was French”- Samantha kept saying to me and I completely agreed. There is depth and complexity and a flinty quality that overtakes all of your palate and pureness that expresses what Oregon Chardonnay can and should be.
Morgen found his home in the Willamette valley in 2014 after working with prominent winemakers in New Zealand, Oregon, California, and Burgundy (Domaine de Montille). He set his sights on creating Oregon Chardonnay and only Oregon Chardonnay. In 2014 he started with just one site, 2016-3 sites, 2017-6 sites, and now 2020 he works with 8!
His old-world winemaking techniques really focus on the history, time and place of the wine. Working with only Chardonnay he really wants the grape to show that it has a home in Oregon for a reason and he wants to show what that terroir is made of (literally). The winemaking is all done by feel and based on what the vintage had to offer. There is no formula for this kind of winemaking. Every vintage is different, and he treats the grapes and each wine that way. Natural yeasts, natural malolactic fermentation, little sulfur addition for stabilization, the wine hangs out in barrel for 1 year then moved to stainless to blend with a little fining and sometimes filtering, it all depends on the wine.
We got our hands on the 2018 Marine Chardonnay which is produced from sites that are non-irrigated and vines that range from 11-39 years old. Stainless steel fermented as well as barrel fermented with some barrel aging and some stainless-steel aging for about a year. The wine itself is just beautiful. Wet stone, florals, underripe mango, guava, lemongrass, straw, and nutty quality. Round and ripe qualities with a heavy mid palate, glowing minerality and showy acidity, soft texture with longevity on the finish.
2018 Willamette Valley Chardonnay- flinty wet rocks, lemon oil, lime curd, nutty ginger and hint of wood spice. Bright zesty acidity and round flavors with lacy texture and loads of density with so much longevity! In my opinion this wine will last you the entire night, you will want to sit and savor it and let it change in the glass and it will stun you every time.