THE SERIES: MONTEREY
From our home in the Russian River Valley, La Crema has pioneered cool-climate artisan winemaking. This has led to our exploration of California’s finest coastal growing regions where cooling ocean wind and fog allow the grapes to ripen slowly on the vine, developing complex aromas and flavors. Our quest has drawn us north into the rugged hills of Mendocino and south along the wind-swept slopes of Los Carneros. Our Monterey wines originate on the cool benchlands of this coastal appellation, where beautifully textured Chardonnay makes a natural addition to our portfolio.
THE PLACE: MONTEREY
The vineyards of Monterey are defined by persistent ocean winds that are funneled down a 90-mile-long valley
running north to south between the Santa Lucia and Gabilan Mountains. These strong winds combine with abundant sun and scarce rainfall to give this wine region one of the longest, coolest growing seasons in California. The coolest vineyards are at the northernmost tip of the valley, where Chardonnay develops remarkable aromatic and textural complexity with crisp, firm structural elements. A variety of clones – Clone 4, Dijon and Rued – were chosen for this release to emphasize Monterey Chardonnay’s natural complexity and intense aromatics.
For more than 30 years, La Crema has explored California’s coastal appellations, a voyage of varietals that started here at our estate in the foggy vineyards of the Russian River Valley. On our journey, we have found exciting cool-climate vineyards north in the rugged hills of Mendocino, and south along the wind-swept slopes of Los Carneros. Most recently, our exploration has taken us to the wind-swept hillside vineyards of Monterey. Centered always on the dual lens of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, we look for one unifying factor at these exceptional sites: coastal wind and fog that allow the grapes ripen slowly on the vine, developing intensely complex aromas and flavors while retaining firm acid structure.
Naturally, our winemaking team seeks to express the essence of the terroir in our wines, capturing the unique personality and flavor profile of the vineyards. Elizabeth Grant-Douglas infuses our winemaking regime with a highly personal touch that combines the best of traditional Burgundian winemaking techniques with a contemporary California style.
Elizabeth employs time-intensive techniques to craft your favorite La Crema releases throughout the years:
We harvest grapes in the cool early morning hours and treat it very gently from vine to press to ensure the delicate clusters arrive in prime condition.
To best capture the fresh fruit character, a gentle whole-cluster press is used for Chardonnay to minimize bitter compounds from skins, seeds and stems. Our Chardonnays are fermented in French and American oak, with the lees (yeast deposit) hand stirred twice a month to create a round, rich texture on the palate.
PINOT NOIR FERMENTATION
After the stems are removed, Pinot Noir is left to rest in a cold soak for five to eight days. This captures layers of complex aromatics and a gorgeous luminous color. Fermentation then takes place in small, open-top fermenters, with the cap of skins and seeds punched down through the juice three times each day to balance out tannin weight and structure. When fermentation is complete, the wine is pressed off the skins with a gentle basket press.
Both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are aged primarily in French oak. Barrels are carefully with specific grain and toast levels for each separate wine lot to ensure a balanced mingling of fruit and characteristics. At bottling time, minimal fining and filtration ensure the purity of varietal expression in the glass for which La Crema is well known.