I’ve been diving deeper into Oregon chardonnay over the last year or so. Oregon pinot noir will always be my first love, but I’m growing to enjoy chardonnay more and more with each tasting. In my last post about Oregon Chardonnay, I rattled off some surprising stats and hinted about a winemaker that is focusing his efforts only on chardonnay. Today, I’m here to tell you about that winemaker: Seth Morgen Long.
Seth owns and operates the one-man show that is Morgen Long Wine. A few friends and I had the opportunity for a tasting with Seth, which we all agree was one of the most memorable wine tasting experiences we’ve had. We were all so caught up in the conversation and the wine that none of us even wrote down or took photos of everything we tasted. That certainly makes it more difficult to write a blog post about later, but it’s those types of experiences that leave you overflowing with joy… and wanting more chardonnay.
It’s out of the ordinary to see an Oregon winemaker focusing only on chardonnay. So much so that it appears Seth is the ONLY winemaker with a singular focus on chardonnay in Willamette Valley at this time. With such focus, Seth is able to harness exactly the characteristics he is looking for from each site he sources fruit from to create stunning chardonnay.
This year, Seth will be sourcing fruit from ten different vineyards throughout Willamette Valley, expanding from six sites over the last few years. It’s fascinating to hear a winemaker like Seth talk about the vineyards where they source fruit, particularly when that winemaker is making single-vineyard wines. Seth carefully considers the characteristics of the vineyard and the impacts those characteristics will have on the resulting wine. Things like soil type, elevation, farming practices, and more all factor into the decision and the winemaking process that follows. Each of Seth’s chardonnays showcase the unique sites from which the fruit is cultivated.
If there’s one thing that stood out to me the most in Seth’s wines, it’s reduction. Prior to the tasting with Seth, I’ve never had anyone talk to me about what reduction means when it comes to wine. In short, reduction is the opposite of oxidation, meaning that the wine has been shielded from oxygen as much as possible prior to being bottled. This presents with a minerally, flint-like flavor on the palate. Reduction can sometimes be thought of as a flaw, but in this case its intentional. In fact, it’s becoming a popular style for high-end chardonnays. Reduction is something I’ve been seeking out in Oregon chardonnay since tasting Seth’s wines. It’s really growing on me!
Morgen Long Wine is a fantastic place to start your Oregon chardonnay journey, or to continue it, if you’ve already found a love for Oregon chardonnay. Seth is currently offering tastings at the winery in Salem, where you’ll also find a couple other amazing producers: Lingua Franca and Audeant. If you plan far enough ahead, you may even be able to schedule a tasting with all three in the same day!