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Wine of the Week: La Crema, 2018 Monterey Pinot Noir of Rosé

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This Week's Blind Tastings: Spot On Rosés

TOP PICK

La Crema

La Crema, 2018 Monterey Pinot Noir of Rosé, 13.5% alcohol, $25. ★★★★

A gorgeous rosé with great minerality and high-toned fruit. Excellent balance. Manages to be light on its feet, yet complex with a range of flavors: strawberry, rhubarb, raspberry and watermelon. Striking.

Tasty ALTERNATIVES

Decoy, 2018 California Rosé, 13.5%, $20. ★★★1/2: A tasty rosé, dry and elegant. Notes of watermelon, raspberry and mineral. Lush texture, yet manages to be delicate and bright. Pretty.

Clos du Val, 2018 Carneros Napa Valley Estate Pinot Noir of Rosé, 12.9%, $30. ★★★: A bright and lively pinot noir with aromas and flavors of strawberry, watermelon, cantaloupe with a hint of cherry. Balanced. Solid.

Etude, 2018 Grace Benoist Ranch, Carneros Estate, Pinot Noir Rosé, 12.9%, $25. ★★★★: Nice and dry, this pinot is buoyed by bright acid with lovely flavors –– wild strawberry, blood orange and cherry. Tasty.

Copain, 2018 Tous Ensemble, Mendocino County Rosé of Pinot Noir, 12.8%, $28. ★★★★: This is an impressive bottling, refreshingly dry. Tasty citrus, watermelon, mineral and a hint of nectarine. Finishes crisp. Well crafted.

Maritime grapes are those lulled to sleep at night with cool breezes from the ocean. In their slumber, the fruit is imparted with a little magic –– an underlying mineral character that’s refreshingly crisp.

Maritime rosé? You bet, and it’s absolutely irresistible.

Our wine of the week winner falls into this category –– the La Crema 2018 Monterey Pinot Noir of Rosé at $25. It’s a rosé with striking minerality and high-toned fruit. It has excellent balance, and it manages to be light on its feet yet complex with a range of flavors: strawberry, rhubarb, raspberry and watermelon. It’s impressive.

“The cool growing conditions in Monterey, contributed by the wind and ocean influence, can impart a slight salinity to the wine,” explained head winemaker Craig McAllister. “All of La Crema’s Monterey wines share an underlying mineral or oyster shell character that’s evident in this wine and sets it apart from other rosés.”

Delicate, crisp and fruit forward –– these are the qualities McAllister said he’s shooting for in a rosé.

“There is a delicacy to these wines but also just enough structure to stand up to a wide range of foods,” he said.

Understanding the vineyards is key in making a rosé of pinot noir, McAllister explained.

“Achieving a balanced wine is our goal, so knowing which vineyards will lay that foundation for this wine is key,” he said. “I’ve been working with Monterey vineyards for about 10 years now, so I have come to understand which vineyard sites and pinot noir clones are better suited to rosé production than they are for a pinot noir, and this has been key to making this wine.”

McAllister’s path to wine hasn’t been a straight one. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, this 50-year-old winemaker worked in hotels in New Zealand and construction while living in London.

But his passion for wine led him to study viticulture and enology at Lincoln University in New Zealand, and he graduated in 2004. McAllister joined La Crema as a harvest enologist in 2007 and became a full-time employee in 2009, helping the company establish its Monterey program.

“I’m often asked if there was an ‘A-ha moment’ and I think back to when I was working as a waiter at the THC Milford Sound Hotel in New Zealand during the summer of 1988,” McAllister said.

“A guest offered me a taste of the wine he had enjoyed with his dinner. It was a cabernet sauvignon from Hawkes Bay and was the first time I had tasted anything quite like it. It certainly piqued my interest in wine, which ultimately led me to this.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

This Week's Blind Tastings: Spot On Rosés

TOP PICK

La Crema

La Crema, 2018 Monterey Pinot Noir of Rosé, 13.5% alcohol, $25. ★★★★

A gorgeous rosé with great minerality and high-toned fruit. Excellent balance. Manages to be light on its feet, yet complex with a range of flavors: strawberry, rhubarb, raspberry and watermelon. Striking.

Tasty ALTERNATIVES

Decoy, 2018 California Rosé, 13.5%, $20. ★★★1/2: A tasty rosé, dry and elegant. Notes of watermelon, raspberry and mineral. Lush texture, yet manages to be delicate and bright. Pretty.

Clos du Val, 2018 Carneros Napa Valley Estate Pinot Noir of Rosé, 12.9%, $30. ★★★: A bright and lively pinot noir with aromas and flavors of strawberry, watermelon, cantaloupe with a hint of cherry. Balanced. Solid.

Etude, 2018 Grace Benoist Ranch, Carneros Estate, Pinot Noir Rosé, 12.9%, $25. ★★★★: Nice and dry, this pinot is buoyed by bright acid with lovely flavors –– wild strawberry, blood orange and cherry. Tasty.

Copain, 2018 Tous Ensemble, Mendocino County Rosé of Pinot Noir, 12.8%, $28. ★★★★: This is an impressive bottling, refreshingly dry. Tasty citrus, watermelon, mineral and a hint of nectarine. Finishes crisp. Well crafted.

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