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Morlet Family Vineyards provides a sense of place

This year Napa winery Morlet Family Vineyards joins La Place de Bordeaux with its Cœur de Vallée 2019 cuvée. We see how this expression compares with earlier vintages of the same wine.

Based in the St Helena appellation of California’s Napa Valley, Morlet Family Vineyards has been crafting exceptional wines since 2006. Led by husband-and-wife team Luc and Jodie Morlet, the property’s wines are served in some of the world’s finest restaurants by those who are lucky enough to have discovered them.

This September, its top cuvée Cœur de Vallée, an elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, will be released through La Place de Bordeaux, where it will join a careful selection of leading Napa wines in the French platform’s ‘hors Bordeaux’ campaign. A pool of 12 négociants will receive an initial 10,000 bottles of Cœur de Vallée 2019, the first Morlet Family Vineyards wine to launch via La Place.

“For nearly two decades, our winery has been developing an international market. Luc and I are very grateful to now have the opportunity to share our story and passion with more wine connoisseurs around the globe,” said Jodie Morlet about the announcement.

Winemaker Luc grew up in Avenay-Val d’Or, France, where he worked on his family’s wine estate, before completing stints at wineries in Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the south of France. When he moved to California to join Jodie in 1996, his
goal was to bring an ‘Old World’ flavour to Napa.

The Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes used in the Cœur de Vallée wines are harvested from the world-renowned Oakville Bench in the Morlets’ eight-hectare Cœur de Vallée vineyard. All of Morlet’s wines are handcrafted using classical winemaking techniques from Burgundy and Bordeaux, and are matured in only the finest 100% French oak barrels.

Patrick Schmitt MW, editor-in-chief of the drinks business, carries out a vertical tasting of Morlet’s Cœur de Vallée wines from the 2007, 2013, 2018, 2019, and 2020 vintages below.

Morlet Family Vineyards, Cœur de Vallée, 2007


An exciting taste of a fine, concentrated and powerful Cabernet Sauvignon in a mature state, this 16-year-old wine shows how well great Napa reds can age, with plenty of colour, depth and tannin still present, along with a lovely dollop of sweet fruit.

Aromatically, there’s overripe orange, stewed black cherry, sweet balsamic, and cigar box bursting from the glass. As for the palate, it is led by more red fruit notes, with some raspberry jam, then blackcurrant compote, followed by prunes, cedar, balsamic, and a note of undergrowth, with a touch of dried leaves and sweet tobacco. After these layers of flavour, the wine slowly fades to leave some fine tannins and a lingering warmth.

Morlet Family Vineyards, Cœur de Vallée, 2013

Although this wine celebrates its 10th birthday this year, you wouldn’t suspect it, with a nose and palate featuring a surprising amount of ripe, concentrated red and dark berry fruit, and some chocolate and cocoa powder notes from the oak used to age the wine. Complementing this are more mature notes, with some raisin, prune, sweet tobacco, and cedar wood, then a finish with plenty of dry tannins and warming alcohol.

A wonderful and complex wine that’s just starting to mature and mellow, but with plenty of density and structure to age for another five years or more.

Morlet Family Vineyards, Cœur de Vallée, 2018

A wine with an impressive aromatic intensity, featuring plenty of blackcurrant and dark cherry fruit, and a background note of milk chocolate. In the mouth, there’s an immediate hit of soft, ripe, juicy dark berry fruit that’s fleshy and sweet, followed by a note of pure blackcurrant, then chocolate and burnt sugar.

As the wine’s flavours slowly subside, characters of stewed ripe cherry come through, with a touch of pepper, then caramel, leaving behind a smooth mouth-coating of fine dry tannin, and a warming sensation.

Morlet Family Vineyards, Cœur de Vallée, 2019

Aromatically, this is open, enticing, and complex, with plenty of youthful oak-derived and fruit characters from toast and milk chocolate to blackcurrant and raspberry, along with a touch of dried oregano. The palate is soft, fleshy, and warming, with sweet fruit, from ripe cherry and strawberry, which is almost jam-like, to concentrated blackcurrant, followed by flavours of vanilla, toast, cinnamon, and a touch of roasted coffee, even caramel. The finish is persistent and warming, with fine dry ripe tannin. In essence, this is a rich, juicy, generous, indulgent, youthful, and delicious wine, with a warming finish and a firm but fine dry structure too.

Morlet Family Vineyards, Cœur de Vallée, 2020

A wine with lovely ripe fruit aromatics, including an inviting mix of juicy raspberry and blackcurrant, as well as a hint of vanilla and roasted coffee. The palate is generous and fleshy, but not overripe, with layers of fruit, from soft raspberry to concentrated blackcurrant and juicy cherries, with a touch of spice, then creamy coffee and some roasted bean too, giving a burnt note, followed by cinnamon and dark chocolate, toast and white pepper.

The tannins are fine, firm, and dry, and the finish is warming, with some juicy blood orange to give a gentle soft freshness. A persistent, ripe, layered, warming, and powerful wine, as well as a youthful one, with plenty of potential to age and develop over the next five to 10 years.

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