Mer Soleil 2011
In our pursuit to make the finest Californian Chardonnay we could, my dad Chuck Wagner planted our first chardonnay vines in 1988 in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation of Monterey County. This would go on to become a small winery with a single vineyard bottling called Mer Soleil. We increased our vineyard little by little by planting to achieve the highest quality. The name meaning “sea sun” is fitting, as the Monterey Bay is nearby so the climate is highly influenced by the Pacific Ocean and the sun seems to never stop shining on this vineyard. From the outset, the clones of Chardonnay were chosen for low yield and high quality, with the goal to produce a rich, balanced and complex white wine.
What makes this an exceptional site for growing Chardonnay is the weather. The writer John Steinbeck said it best when he wrote, "I've lived in good climate, and it bores the hell out of me. I like weather rather than climate." Simply spend one full day at Mer Soleil and you'll experience the phenomena of nature that occurs in this very special place. The Santa Lucia Highlands sits on east facing terraces overlooking the Salinas River Valley. During the growing season, warmer temperatures of inland California pulls ocean air and fog into the valley just below the Mer Soleil vineyard location. The Monterey Bay actually cools the entire Salinas Valley protecting the vines from California's potential heat spikes that can be devastating for Chardonnay. This appellation is known for the wild daily winds running through it at the clip of 20 miles per hour. These conditions have a "slow ripening" effect on the grapes and encourage higher quality wine. Santa Lucia Highlands is arguable one of the best regions in the world for producing Chardonnay
The 2011 vintage was even cooler than 2010, with above-average rainfall in spring and summer, accompanied by a mild summer. Yields were low, but we were happy with the fruit quality, which was well developed and vibrant.
Our goal at Mer Soleil is to let the Monterey sunshine express itself through our grapes. The wines are creamy, rich and balanced with lively acidity. The wine is fermented and aged in French oak barrels for 12-15 months prior to bottling. Only a portion of the wine goes through malolactic fermentation, to ensure a bright natural acidity. We practice hand stirring of the barrels to capture more essence and impart a creamy textural component.
Winemaker and Viticulturist
Release date: September 2013