I feel like this is a name I’ve seen around the stores for quite some time, but never actually grabbed a bottle. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen it so much, I just assumed it would be generic and unfulfilling. You’d think by now I’d learn never to assume anything when it comes to wine. Anyway, long story short, it was my partner in wine crime (who appears as a ghostly reflection if you peer into the bottle in the photo below) that picked this bottle out — kind of on a whim. Well, whim and assumptions aside, we were in for quite a treat when we popped the cork on this Mer Soliel Reseve Chardonnay.

About the Wine: Well it’s no wonder I see the name Mer Soleil everywhere. The Wagner family, who’ve been grape growing as early as 1915, also make wine under various other popular labels as well — Belle Glos, Caymus, and Meiomi to name a few.

Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from the Santa Lucia Highlands — an area the Wagners have owned and farmed since 1988. For those unfamiliar with the Santa Lucia Highlands, it’s located within the Monterey Bay area. Grapes here benefit from constant, cooler temperatures, as the vineyard land is right at the crux of bay and ocean. This allows for longer hang time, later harvest, and, thus, fuller fruits and flavors.

The juice is fermented and aged in a mixture of new and used French oak barrels for 12-15 months with regular bâtonnage. A small percentage of the wine also goes through malolactic fermentation.

14.7% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pour Mer Soleil into your glass: warm, subtle, inviting — it’s the soft yellow of a sun not yet risen. First breath in, that sun is shining on acres upon acres of apple orchards. Swirl, sniff again, let your nose move freely around the glass and find little wafts of apple blossoms, grassy greener, and a hint of honey.

Take a first, tiny sip. Feel all the feels. The wine is as plush as a fur coat — that still has its claws. It’s truly one of those wines where the texture dominates over flavor. Initially, you’ll feel a creamy film coat your tongue that coincides with an unmistakable oak barrel flavor. Let the wine linger, swirl it around and let the line of acid perforate that calm. With the tingling of the tongue, the fruit comes forward. Apple? Yes, but something more acidic as well — paired with the right food I’d venture to say a bit of mango, lemon curd, even pineapple.

The finish is vivacious, leaving a tingling on the tongue that trails down the throat, splashing into your core. It’s the sun that warms you from the inside out.

Food Pairing: Think elegant comfort food here: homemade seafood chowder with hot fresh french bread; fettuccine with clam alfredo; dover sole or Atlantic cod en croute. Seafood that’s not too pungent of the sea is the protein of choice; it should firm, but smooth, matching and enhancing those primary textures of the wine. And I’m telling you that line of acid is strong enough to cut through any creamy, buttery, or pureed side you choose.

More Info: As I mentioned, this was my first Mer Soleiil wine experience. It certainly won’t be my last. I purchased Mer Soilel at Whole Foods (Price $30). For more information about Mer Soleil, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Mer Soliel website.


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2 comments on “Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Higlands Reserve Chardonnay 2014”

  1. Well, Im not much of a chard guy….however, I do know that this RESERVE SLH offering probably is much better than you were anticipating….most of the wines from that region, even grocery store quality, can be tasty. I doubt they have this at safeway so when I saw Whole Foods I was encouraged. very cool review and as always your writing is as good as it gets!! Im not much into pairings so I am learning alot from you in that area.

    • Excellent! I’m glad to have pointed you in the direction of a decent chard — i think you’ll find this one much more active on the palate and engaging for the mind.

      For me finding the perfect wine and food pairing is like finding the perfect mate — you need those contrasts and complements — but at the end of the day it’s about what (or who) makes you happy. Cheers, Dave!

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