"This inaugural vintage of Monterey Pinot Noir offers seductive aromas of wild strawberry and fresh tea leaves...subtle notes of earthiness and minerality complement the fruit-driven intensity in the nose. The palate provides layered flavors of strawberry jam and black licorice, with hints of coffee bean and bramble notes that lead to a long and fleshy finish."
- Melissa Stackhouse, La Crema Winemaker
The vineyards of Monterey are defined by persistent ocean winds, giving this region one of the longest, coolest growing seasons in California. Strong winds combine with an abundance of fog and sun, but scarce rainfall. Skillful vineyard management is rewarded at harvest time, where the best Monterey fruit is characterized by aromatic and textural complexity with crisp, firm structure.
"A lovely Pinot, polished and supple. Ready to drink now for its crisp acidity, lush coats of smoky oak and, above all, exotically complex flavors of cherry pie filling, black raspberry tart, cola, red plum and mocha. Should evolve through 2012." Wine Enthusiast
La Crema Winery
Since 1979, La Crema Winery has been a pioneer in producing Burgundian varietals from the cool Sonoma coast. They handcraft their wine, one barrel at a time, at their family-owned estate located in the Russian River Valley. Balance, finesse and great fruit intensity come through in every glass of La Crema wine.
La Crema's location in the Russian River Valley is ideal for producing wines of uncompromising elegance and balance. To achieve this goal, several unique steps take place in getting fruit from the vineyards to the bottle. It begins in the vineyard, where careful canopy management and hand harvesting assure fully ripe, undamaged grapes are brought to the winery. At the winery, Winemaker Melissa Stackhouse uses artisan winemaking techniques to handcraft wines of distinctive flavor, elegance and balance.
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The largest of California's wine growing regions, the Central Coast produces the majority of California's wine. The district sprawls out, covering most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Smaller sub-AVAs of the Central Coast include Monterey Bay, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and many others.
Grape varieties range from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Some Central Coast wine is generic, bulk wine that contributes to the high production numbers of the area. But many winemakers and wineries, particular in some of the smaller AVAs, are small production artisans, creating unique and high-quality wine. The great thing about the Central Coast is its diversity - you're able to find a number of grape varieties and styles at a number of different price points.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.