Mer Soleil Silver

Mer Soleil Silver Chardonnay 2010, California

Cost: $23-25

What: With the onset of warm weather we are always looking for a crisp, refreshing wine to go with a fine dinner. The Mer Soleil Silver is just what you’re looking for.


The wine starts with grapes from the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County. The cool-climate vineyards bring out bright acids and a crisp minerality, which come through on the nose and on the palate.

The wine is fermented in cement tanks and stainless steel, giving it a sharp, crisp feel that I love so much in unoaked Chardonnay.

After a smooth, soft entry, the wine reveals ripe citrus, especially lemon and grapefruit, with touches of peach and nectarine.

The distinctive gray ceramic bottle is a nice marketing touch. It keeps the wine cold and doubles as a flower vase when it’s empty. (Remember Lancer’s Rose? I wonder if they’re still around.) Serve the wine well chilled.

Mer Soleil also makes a rich, buttery barrel-fermented Chardonnay, also from the Santa Lucia Highlands. This wine is fermented in French oak barrels, and some of it undergoes malolactic fermentation.

The result is a lush wine, full of honeysuckle, tropical fruit and citrus. The two wines offer a nice comparison of the range of flavors you can get from Chardonnay.

Winery: The Mer Soleil Vineyard was first developed in 1988 by the Wagner family, owners of Caymus. It is named for the two natural forces that define the grapes’ growing conditions: sea (mer) and sun (soleil).

The coastal climate causes morning and evening fogs and warm, bright afternoons, a combination that produces Mer Soleil’s high-quality fruit.

The Wagners have been growing grapes in the Napa Valley since 1915, and have been making wine since 1972 when they started the Caymus winery.

Goes with: We had this with fried shrimp and it really enhanced the flavors. I try to eat lighter in summer, so the wine generally is lighter than in winter months, but I don’t want to sacrifice quality.

The Mer Soleil Silver packs in big flavors, but they don’t overpower the lighter summer fare.

This wine would go great with all kinds of seafood, fried chicken and milder cheese. It’s also great for sipping before or after dinner.

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