One of our favorite Chardonnay wines is Mer Soleil Silver from the Mer Soleil Winery in St. Lucia Highlands, California – located along the Monterey coastline. Winemaker Charlie Wagner II is a third-generation vineyard owner/winemaker. His grandfather and father established the acclaimed Caymus Vineyards in 1972.
The Wagners saw the great potential for growing Chardonnay grapes in the cool climate of Monterey and now produce two top-rated wines – the Mer Soleil Reserve and the Silver. They pick the grape clusters late in the season when there are both small and large berries – called Hens and Chicks. The lack of seeds in the smaller grapes means less bitterness in the wine.
Silver is Charlie’s creation. It’s a pure, clean expression of the Chardonnay varietal. The wine is fermented and aged in a combination of stainless steel and small concrete tanks that are imported from Burgundy, France. Yes – concrete! These are unlined concrete tanks which allow the wine to keep its minerality, acidity and natural flavor. No oak here. They bottle the wine in a ceramic bottle with matte gray finish to resemble the cement tank in which it’s aged.
At $20+ a bottle, it’s not our everyday wine, but it’s a treat and a fun gift idea. I received a bottle as a gift five years ago, and ever since have enjoyed giving the Silver to friends.