When Monterey County, California, is mentioned, amazing coastlines immediately come to the mind of the well-traveled. Golfers will surely associate the Monterey coast with world class courses like Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay, and the ultra exclusive Cypress Point Golf Course. Photographers—both amateur and professional—know one of North America’s most photographed trees, the Lone Cypress, resides in solitude on a granite hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Movie buffs will undoubtedly recall that Dirty Harry himself, Clint Eastwood, was once Mayor of the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea located in the Monterey Peninsula.
Wine lovers recognize Monterey County as a part of the Central Coast wine region of California. From the cool Santa Lucia Highlands appellation comes MER SOLEIL, another stellar winery from the Wagner family that also brings you Caymus and Belle Glos, among other brands. Winemaker and viticulturalist Charlie Wagner is largely responsible for this rich 2013 Reserve Chardonnay. The color is pale yellow with a slight haze. The nose exudes lemon zest. On the palate, the first standout characteristic is the mouthfeel—way thicker than most Chardonnay. The mid palate expresses flavors of creme brulee, tropical fruit and honey. Judicious use of oak is also evident. If you’ve ever partaken of any Wagner family wine, you know that the finish is long and refreshing.
So, if you ever find yourself strolling off the green of the famous 18th at Pebble Beach, spewing profanities because you ruined your round by hooking two shots into the ocean on the last hole, take quick refuge at the 19th hole and order a bottle of Mer Soleil. You’ll soon forget the misery of that last hole and will always remember this wine as a classic Chardonnay from the one and only Monterey County. –R.K.