Friday, May 6, 2011

Nick and Luc Morlet – brothers in wine!

One could be funny and make a comparison with the famous Agatha Christie book “Ten Little Niggers” from 1939, and why not. The Morlet family has been cultivating vines in Champagne since the early 1800s, and today they farm around 30 small vineyards lots covering a total of 16.20 hectares, and they make champagne under their family label Champagne Pierre Morlet. Actually, "they" don't do, "he" does.
First there were three brothers. Then the oldest brother Luc Morlet left, after a journey in California, he went back to California in 1996, started to work as assistant winemaker behind John Kongsgaard at Newton Estate, got together with his girlfriend (they met earlier), married her, started to work at Peter Michael Winery and then left to work for Staglin Family Vineyard and to set up his own Morlet Family Vineyards in 2006.
Later the second and youngest brother, Nick Morlet, left Champagne and the family business to go to California, where he joined his brother Luc Morlet, and in December 2005 took over his job at Peter Michael Winery. He is still at that winery, and as his brother thrives in the California soil, climate and viticulture, so does he.
In Champagne, the middle brother Pierre Morlet, still works with the family vineyards, making champagne. As far as I know, he’s not on his way over the Atlantic.

2007 l'Aprés Midi of Peter Michael Winery / 88 p
The last vintages, the blend have been around 90-93 percent Sauvignon Blanc (mostly the Preston Clone, but also some Musqué Clone) with a balance of Sémillon, all grapes from Les Pavots Vineyard at approximately 420-440 meter of altitude. Color is pale straw, the nose bright and fresh and surprisingly shy (compared to what I’m used to in this wine), but very pure with delicious notes of lemon peel. Giving it a few minutes of air in the glass, some reticent notes of white lilies evolves, which adds to the complexity. Since only ten percent of the wine saw oak, it’s more fresh and steely. On the palate, it is as fresh and clean, but there is a fine texture that gives the wine a silkiness rather than the crisp structure one would look for in a sauvignon. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the oak fermented fraction was kept on its lees for ten to eleven months, with some bâtonnage to add that texture. Acidity, though, is fresh since there was no malolactic fermentation. It’s a nice, fresh and easy drinking, still quite complex wine. Try it with seafood, Thai food, elegant fish dishes … or just as it is.
Drink it 2011-2013.

2007 La Proportion Dorée of Morlet Family Wines / 91 p
The idea about this wine, Luc Morlet told me, was to find the average blend of the vintages of the greatest vintages of the white wine from Château Haut-Brion, hence the name (in French, of course) La Proportion Dorée. The golden recipe was 66 percent Sémillon, 32 percent Sauvignon Blanc and just two percent of Muscadelle.
At first, the nose is a bit closed with just small notes of lemon and yellow stone fruits, but knowing this wine quite well, I was patient enough to let it sit in my glass for another 15 minutes. Even that didn’t change the wine too much, but it made it open up a bit, and in blends like this it will make the Sémillon fraction take some more space. I found fine notes of bees wax and honey – not too much – but at this youthful stage the lemon notes is more dominant.
Compared to the l’Aprés Midi, this wine have more weight, some vanilla from the oak, slightly higher alcohol and longer taste. I prefer to serve this with more air (at least half an hour in a decanter) and at slightly higher temperature than the lighter l’Aprés Midi, let’s say 14 degrees, even though the alcohol is higher and show more. This is also a wine for richer dishes, like grilled fished and seafood with creamy sauces, or even poultry and white meat. It’s a lovely wine, but I rather drink it early – only a few California white wines ages with grace.
Drink it 2011-2015.

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