Wine has always been a way of life for Nicolas Morlet, as it is for his brother and predecessor at Peter Michael, Luc Morlet: both grew up working on the family domaine, Pierre Morlet & Fils, in Avenay-Val-d’Or, Champagne. Born in Epernay, France to a fifth generation wine-grower family, Nick and his brothers grew up spending all their free time from school working on the family estate. At 40 acres, it was small enough to be managed by the family alone most of the year, but large enough to require the efforts of all its members.
“Before you settle in an area, you must experience winemaking in many different places” Pierre Morlet had advised his sons. Nick pursued education and work that immersed him in the classic winemaking techniques of Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux. Following his degree in Viticulture, Enology and Wine Business at Lycée Viti-Vinicole de Beaune, Burgundy, Nick worked, as Luc did two years earlier, at Maison Chanson Père & Fils in producing Premiers and Grands Crus of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Then, while working at Margaux’s 2nd Grand Cru Classé “Chateau Lascombes” Nicolas researched the advantages of macerating Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot in small oak barrels. His thesis on “vinification intégrale” won him honors when he received his Bachelor of Science in Enology from the prestigious University of Dijon in Burgundy (Jules Guyot Institute). “I enjoyed school, being something of a science buff,” says Nick. “But as I studied, I placed everything I learned against the background of all those seasons I spent in the vineyards and cellars. I truly believe in the constant observation of nature and the use of our senses to guide our decisions.” Nick’s first trip of many to California was in 1994, when he combined agricultural work with two months of traveling to national parks and mountains. After a stint at Joseph Phelps Vineyards for the Insignia and Backus labels, working with winemaker Craig Williams, Nick joined Peter Michael Winery in the winter of 2005.
“Here in California, there is an opportunity to actually discover new terroirs." says Nick. "The Seaview venture into coastal vineyards to produce vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs is tremendously exciting. That kind of viticultural exploration is not available in France anymore. Freedom is crucial to let art express itself. Freedom is vital to achieve the best quality possible.” This passionate approach to classical winemaking with a sense of innovation is natural to Peter Michael Winery’s philosophy. Innovations such as the exclusive use of wild yeast take us more deeply into the legacy begun by Helen Turley and developed by Mark Aubert and Luc Morlet, who has now become a consultant to Peter Michael Winery.