Mer Soleil is named after the two elements that most affect its growing conditions: sun and sea. A single vineyard, it is in the northern-most site of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation and the closest vineyard in the appellation to the Monterey Bay. During the growing season, warmer inland temperatures at the southern end of the Salinas Valley pull morning and evening fogs into the vineyard. By contrast, the afternoons are evenly warm and sunny. A brisk wind that arises almost every afternoon from the Bay works as natural air conditioning for the vines, providing for slow ripening of fruit. In addition, the absence of rain throughout the growing season keeps the grapes dry and pristine. The result is one of the coolest, driest vineyard sites in California.
Chuck Wagner makes the viticultural and harvesting decisions while his son, Charlie, is the winemaker. They have increased the complexity of the wine they make by planting nine different Chardonnay clones in the vineyard which are vinified separately. All are barrel fermented in oak barrels and undergo various different degrees of malolactic fermentation and barrel ageing on the lees.
A variety of different Chardonnay clones are trained on three different trellis systems to enhance...