I recently opened the 2016 Poppy SLH Chardonnay and the 2017 Poppy Cabernet from Paso Robles. Both produced from the Monterey Wine Co. I’ve had these two wines for sometime now and very impressed how well they have matured the past few years. Poppy wines are not only one of the best cost performance wines I’ve had, but one of the best age worthy too.
The Monterey Wine Company has been around for about 45 years now and is noted for creating wines for a variety of California wine clients and labels. Though I cannot say exactly who, odds are that you’ve enjoyed a few without even knowing it! By combinding traditional wine making methods with the latest hi-tech, they can achieve top quality wines at very competitive prices. I’ve been working with MWC for over 12 years now and they are consistent in quality, style and cost performance.
The Chardonnay is from the eastern slope of the San Lucia Highlands, which is just east of Big Sur and just south of Monterrey Bay. The valley runs more northwest to southeast than most California valleys, so there’s little effort for winds to moving through, creating a more consistent temperature variation. This allows for the fruit to ripen more evenly throughout the growing year, making for, some say, a better wine. Arguably it certainly has its own style and its own following. The 2016 vintage was created with balance in mind using 3 separate fermentation processes, then blended together to create a focused and elegant Chardonnay at a very affordable price range. 70% aged in oak with the balance of 30% in Stainless Steel tanks creating, “..creamy richness balanced by bright fruit acidity.” Indeed this Chardonnay is a well balance of oak notes, a touch of toast, with medium body and bright acidity. A great wine that matches a number of dishes or on its own. Excellent and without breaking the bank.
About 1 1/2 hours south to the Paso Robles area is Sunny Slope and San Juan vineyards where the 2017 Poppy Cabernet was harvested. The combination of young vines from the Sunny Slope vineyard and the old vines from the San Juan, create excellent balance and complexity in this wine. “Paso” as it's called, is known for Cab, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel, and a popular destination for those looking for a more laidback California winery atmosphere.
Monterrey Wine Co. applies the same meticulousness to their Cab as they do their other wines by parting out the harvest and creating the wine through traditional maceration methods, and using what is know, in the case of their cab, as Thermovinification. Without getting too technical, it’s a fermentation process resulting in, ”maximizing the good stuff, blow off the bad stuff”. I would say, a process that creates good cost performance wines that are well balanced, medium to full body wine. The tannin structure is a bit on the softer side which makes it more approachable but doesn’t sacrifice dimension by being boring. Again what I refer to as a “fence” wine; one that is enjoyed either with or without food. The traditional matches apply here; Lamb, roasted meats, full on dishes with minimal heat or sweetness of course.