February 25, 2007

2005 La Crema Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California

This wine immediately strikes me as a classic Californian Pinot Noir. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily a good thing. I say that because I find that Californian style of Pinot to be very light and thin with a medicinal quality to the palate. Contrast that to the depth and richness of those Californian Pinot's that go their own way, and you cleave the lovers of these wines. Consider me in the camp of the Burgundian style, no surprise there, and in California I look for the wines of Walter Hansel, Jed Steele or Kent Rasmussen. Not so much Burgundian, these wines, as Californian meets Burgundy. Either way, they contrast well against the style of the La Crema tasted here.

Which is odd, really. La Crema's reputation is pretty solid, and they are known to make incredible, intense and delicious Chardonnay's. That's a long way of saying that I don't know that I would judge the winery by our tasting of this Pinot Noir. There are two reasons for that:

1. It is a 2005 and will likely deepen and become more complex with age.

2. This wine is entry level, and there are several beyond this that may get to where I want to go. I am going to seek those out and taste in comparison to this one in the coming weeks.

Melissa Stackhouse is the winemaker over at La Crema and she has been working to put her stamp on the house winemaking style. That is probably good, as Melissa is known to favor a Burgundian style of Pinot Noir. Actually, that would be a third reason why I will check out more wines from La Crema crafted by Melissa Stackhouse. For whatever reason, this Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir just didn't get there.

We decanted for a bit and poured to smell. The nose was a bit hot with alcohol, and had cassis and jammy fruit blended with that medicine quality I mentioned earlier. The nose is not bad, just not what we go for, and to my mind is simple and without depth. There is a sandy quality to both the nose and the palate which makes me feel like the grapes were grown in really arid, sun drenched vineyards... which they were not.

The palate is simple and restrained. I would say light with little complexity. The fruit is more strawberry, but it dissipates quickly leaving an aftertaste that is like, well... it's like medicine. There is an earthy component to the palate that we like, but it is not in balance with the rest of the wine. The finish is fairly short and dry.

Lately, we've been looking for some value wines to flesh out the lower end of our cellar. Wines that we can enjoy whenever we want without feeling like we are robbing our daughter's inheritance. Just kidding. But seriously, we are looking for good value wines that we can keep and drink over the next year or so while we stock up on more long-term keepers. This wine is not either of those, obviously, but as I said we will continue to check out La Crema and let you know what we taste.

cost - $21.99

winecommando rating (1-10) - 7

1 comment:

Rob W said...

Great review and commentary. I have enjoyed the La Crema Pinot in the past and plan on doing a review and recommendation on my site, http://www.365corks.com in the very near future. Check it out and I'd like to add a link to this site if agreeable. Thanks!