La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir 2020

Pale ruby color; raspberry, cherry, strawberry, plum, oak-vanilla on the nose; cherry, red plum, baked red apple, oak spice on the palate.

La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir 2020

Dry; vibrant; plush, rich, savory. Earthy elements in the beginning contribute intrigue. Light body, light tannins and acidity. Smooth. Easy to sip; easy to like. Consistently a quality leader in its lane.

This is refined rather than fruity, a nice accomplishment when you produce more than 100,000 cases a year. That production also makes it widely available at a good QPR (quality-price ratio). There is a moderate oak element, as you must expect from mass-produced pinot, but this is done appropriately to enhance beauty, not to pancake makeup over flaws. It also tastes like pinot because it is 100% pinot noir.

Grapes are picked in cool, early morning. Cold soak for 3-5 days; fermented in open tanks with punchdowns three times a day. Free-run juice transferrs to tanks for settling. Racked into a mix of neutral and new French oak. Racked, crafted, bottled after eight months in barrel.

La Crema–Jackson Family

La Crema is a family-owned estate in the Russian River Valley in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Owners Laura Jackson-Giron and her sister, Jennifer Jackson Hartford, founded the winery in 1979 with a commitment to quality. The original name was La Crema Viñera (“The Best of the Vine”). The name, of course, has now been shortened. It still means quality grapes from one of California’s preeminent cool-climate regions of California and Oregon.

Laura Jackson-Giron and Jennifer Jackson Hartford are daughters of Jess Jackson. They also are owners of Jackson Family Wines, a major world player in the wine world. Barbara Banke, Jess’s widow, is the chairperson of Jackson Family Wines. Son-in-law Don Hartford is the vice chairman.

La Crema winemaker Craig McAllister

The La Crema operation specializes in Burgundian-style pinot noir and chardonnay. Craig McAllister is the head winemaker, assisted by winemaker Eric Johannsen. La Crema also has a robust a culinary-restaurant program. Tracey Shepos Cenami is the chef and cheese specialist. There are tasting rooms in Healdsburg and at Saralee’s Vineyard at La Crema Estate in an historic barn.

Vineyards are sustainably farmed and are CCSW-certified (Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing). Composted pomace (pulp remaining after crushing grapes) is returned to the soil. Bird habitat boxes attract owls, bluebirds, and falcons to nest and patrol the vineyards and naturally control vineyard pests. They practice integrated pest management by introducing beneficial insects to reduce use of pesticides. The winery’s water conservation methods mean they use half the industry average. All vineyard irrigation is recycled water. They employ a Tesla Energy Powerpack to reduce electric drain during peak times, and their solar array provides up to 65% of their power needs.

La Crema vineyard

La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir 2020 is an admirably consistent value. A classic winery delivers a classic California pinot noir that punches above its weight. Although mass produced, this still tastes like a pinot noir—because it is 100% pinot noir. This is your no-brainer grab and go when you are on the way and suddenly remember you were supposed to bring the wine. Pair with salmon and other fleshy fish; poultry, including turkey, pheasant, quail; pork tenderloin; lighter cuts of beef; veal. Cheese—sheep’s milk cheeses; gruyère, comté, emmenthal, gouda, taleggio. $19-23

La Crema’s very informative website; worth a visit. Many nice videos

La Crema—Eric Johannsen
La Crema–Tracey Shepos Cenami
La Crema—Monterey
La Crema vineyards