La Crema: A continuing Pinot Noir value
As more vineyards appear in the cool coastal areas of Northern California, the price of a good bottle of Pinot continues to be quite reasonable. In fact, many good Pinot Noirs are now available for less than similarly rated Cabernet Sauvignons. This even includes well respected brands.
And one of the most well-known producers is La Crema. Their reputation as a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay specialist has been built around years of successful vintages. They also maintain a coveted niche as a “standard entry” on restaurant wine lists around the world.
Admittedly, there were many of us who were somewhat concerned when Melissa Stackhouse turned over La Crema’s winemaker reins to cool climate pro Elizabeth Grant-Douglas in 2010. But vertical tastings of the 2010 thru 2012 vintages have eliminated any doubt of her skill. The vino is still very good and it remains quite reasonably priced.
With aromas of ripe cherries and plum, these vintages are very consistent. However, the 2011 vintage contains an earthiness that is often difficult for a winemaker to bring forward in a Pinot. After they open up, each of the years have a bouquet that emerges with oak, cedar, and vanilla. With a body and finish that is on the softer lighter side, each year is a very nice pairing companion for seafood.
The wide food pairing potential for these wines is probably the reason that La Crema remains a favorite with restaurants. Fortunately, La Crema’s production volume as increased along with their popularity over the years and this keeps them quite affordable.
You can find La Crema “Monterey” Pinot Noir at Phoenix area Total Wine outlets for less than $18. Two years (2011 & 2012) are still on the shelves at many wine shops. They are also offering other “appellation-specific” Pinots from areas like Sonoma Coast, Carneros, Russian River, and Anderson Valley, just to expand your experience.
If you haven’t tried these recently, now is a great time. Thanks Elizabeth, a job well done!
Serve slightly chilled from the fridge after 20 minutes (60-65 degrees).