May 112016
 

Wine and cheese sampling at La Crema Tasting Room, Healdsburg California

A wine and cheese pairing at La Crema Tasting Room
in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California

La Crema Winery was founded in 1979 and established itself as a pioneer of intensely flavoured Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from cool climates. Originally started by two guys in a garage, it became part of the Jackson Family Wines Collection in 1993. Wine production facilities are not open to the public but its wines can be sampled at their tasting room in downtown Healdsburg, California. La Crema Tasting Room is bright, modern and airy with a variety of gift items tastefully displayed.

La Crema private tasting room

Private tasting room

I sampled wine and cheese pairings at La Crema Tasting Room, cheerfully guided through the process by Tasting Room Associate Brittany Sweeting. I loved her enthusiasm and passion and all the information she provided. My Wine and Cheese Exploration included four La Crema wines paired with local artisan cheeses.

La Crema Tasting Room Associate Brittany

La Crema Tasting Room Associate Brittany

I started with a 2012 Arroyo Seco Chardonnay paired with Foggy Morning, a young mild goat’s cheese from Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, and orange marmalade. La Crema has vineyards in six California locations and one Oregon location. The grapes for this wine came from Monterey. Brittany told me the light-tasting wine was the result of ocean air and rock drainage.

Here is the winery’s description of the 2012 Arroyo Seco Chardonnay:

Aromas are highlighted by hints of tropical fruit, nutmeg and jasmine, while the palate reveals layers of lemon custard, ripe apple, oyster shell and yellow plum.

Wine flight at La Crema Tasting Room

The second wine was a 2012 Nine Barrel Chardonnay paired with Mt. Tam, a cow’s milk triple cream cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, and grapefruit jelly. The buttery cheese worked well with the Chardonnay. I now understood why Cowgirl Creamery was a favourite with many.

Here is the winery’s description of the 2012 Nine Barrel Chardonnay:

Aromas of ripe pear, baked apple, delicate chamomile and crystallized ginger. The palate offers an elegant balance of juicy citrus, toasty hazelnut and creamy caramel with a final note of sweet spice.

Nine Barrel vintages are created when the winemaker selects the ten best barrels of a wine. After mixing and aging, these ten barrels reduce to nine and become Nine Barrel wines.

I was interested to learn that La Crema’s winemaker is a woman, Elizabeth Grant-Douglas, originally from Canada. She grew up in the Niagara area and began her wine-making career in Canadian wineries.

Cheese sampling at La Crema Tasting Room

The third wine was a 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir paired with Carmody, a raw cow’s milk cheese from Bellwether Farm, and cherry jam. The jam was a savoury, not sweet, jam. I am not fond of cherries and was surprised at how much I liked the jam. I thought it would be a nice condiment to accompany cooked pork.

Here is the winery’s description of the 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir:

Embodying the elegant style of cool Mendocino coast, this wine showcases aromas and flavours of cool blueberry, fresh plum and bright red cherry. Look for delicate tea and layered floral tones on a lovely silky finish.

La Crema Tasting Room Associate Brittany

The fourth wine was a 2013 Nine Barrel Pinot Noir paired with a Fiscalini Cheddar and Fruit Mustarda. This wine was my personal favourite of the four (also the most expensive at $90 a bottle, $76 for Wine Club members).

Here is the winery’s description of the 2013 Nine Barrel Pinot Noir:

Dark, brambly fruit is layered with espresso bean, cocoa powder, and cherry pipe tobacco. The mild palate is full and lush, balancing juicy acidity with mature tannins and a silky, spice-laced finish.

La Crema Gewürztraminer

 

As an added bonus, Brittany offered me a taste of a 2013 “Sweet As” Gewürztraminer. Although generally not a fan of sweet wines, this dessert wine was smooth and tasty. I thought it would be especially tasty drizzled over a bowl of ice cream.

 

 

 

 

The wine and cheese pairing was a fun way to sample La Crema’s wine and local cheeses. Brittany said that the name of the winery summed up the nature of their wines – silky and creamy. That was certainly true of the wines I tasted.

La Crema Tasting Room sitting area

Sitting area (“eco-chic industrial”) featuring works of local artist Susan R Ball

PIN ITA wine and cheese pairing at La Crema Tasting Room  in Healdsburg, #Sonoma County, #California. #wine #cheese

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  36 Responses to “La Crema Wine and Cheese”

  1. Looks like a wonderful place and the wine and cheese pairings sound perfect. Of course, all that made better by a passionate expert!

    • Jacquie, the wine and cheese pairings were perfect. And Brittany made the experience so much fun.

  2. I love the presentation of the wines, jams and cheeses. And Brittany’s smile, of course. I rarely remember food tastes, but vividly recall on my first trip to Tuscany having my first pecorino cheese with a fig jam and of course a glass of chianti. It was glorious–like your tasting sounds!

  3. I’ve never seen cheeses paired with wines before at a wine-tasting. Interesting!

  4. La Crema is one of my favorite wineries — especially for the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, but the Montery Pinot Noir is great, too. How cool to be able to pair the wines with cheese in the tasting room. I love reading the tasting notes — they’re like poetry to me.

    • Catherine, I was not familiar with La Crema before visiting the area, but not that I’ve tasted some of their wines I can understand why it is a favourite.

  5. This looks fantastic! I have never been to Napa or Sonoma. A visit is long overdue (I have lived in California more than 10 years). I like when the people who work in these places are passionate with what they do. Also, like when tasting rooms are not full at all.

    • Ruth, we visited outside of the busy summer season and on a weekday, which made for a more non-crowded experience. We had set up a private appointment, but even still they were few others in the tasting room.

  6. Sounds like a fun and YUM way to spend an afternoon. I love reading about people who find a way to successfully turn their passions in to a way to make a living! Anita

  7. I agree that cherry jam unsweetened would go wonderfully with roast pork. I would like to have cheeses and wines paired for me to sample.

    • I got the recipe for the cherry jam but I don’t know if I will make it. The recipe doesn’t look difficult but it calls for red verjus, I’d not heard of verjus before – it is a juice of pressed unripe grapes. I’m not sure I’ll be able to find it where I live.

  8. Wine and cheese? Count me in, Donna! Unfortunately after our FAM trip to Paso Robles and the food/wine frenzy in Oxnard, I gained so much that I’m being punished right now (no wine for me for a while). La Crema seems quite the place I’d love to see though…

  9. What a fun time! The La Crema Tasting Room is beautiful. I love doing tastings, and am making a point of exploring more of the wineries in my area this summer.

    • Jeri, there aren’t any wineries in the area I live. It would be nice to explore wineries near where one lived and be able to take in one at a time every so often – be like special treats.

  10. Hi Donna, you definitely hit some good spots. La Crema is one my favorite wines/wineries. And the Cowgirl Creamery cheeses. Yum!

    • Susan, I should have asked you for some suggestions of wineries before we visited – I’m glad we stumbled onto one you like. And I have to agree with the yum about Cowgirl.

  11. I would love to take my husband there. He loves wine (especially reds) and cheeses! Sonoma country is really a place to go back to!

  12. Interesting to hear about the Canadian connection! The Niagara region is best known for its wine but also has great cheese. Foggy Morning, that young mild goat’s cheese from Nicasio Valley Cheese Company sounds wonderful with orange marmalade

    • I also found the Canadian connection interesting. I enjoyed how the cheese pairings also included a marmalade or preserve.

  13. That’s so cool that the winemaker is not only a woman but Canadian!! The 2012 Nine Barrel Chardonnay would be my favourite—-anything with the taste of apples!

  14. La Crema Winery seems to have found a winning formula, having grown to seven vineyards in a relatively short amount of time. To enjoy their wines paired with local cheeses is an added bonus and you certainly make it sound like an appealing experience. Thanks for a great posting!

  15. I love the eloquent descriptions – such poetry – mulling over those words in your head as you take that bouquet in your mouth sounds divine –
    I wonder if they have an alternative to cheese for those who are lactose intolerant?

    • Linda, I always find the winemakers’ descriptions interesting. You’re right – it often sounds like poetry. I don’t know about what options for wine pairings are available for those who are lactose intolerant.

  16. Healdsburg is such a pretty little town! We loved exploring the Sonoma area – and sipping all those luscious wines :-). Can’t recall if we popped into La Crema Wine and Cheese – looks like a good stop :-). Here’s our post on our visit to Sonoma and some of the wineries we stopped in at: http://www.sandinmysuitcase.com/exploring-sonoma-wine-country/

  17. Love a good Pinot Noir. Even more so with some fine cheese. Thanks for bringing us along.

  18. I can’t get enough of cheese, unfortunately I’m not able to drink more than a sip of wine though. But I’d love to experience the ambience #TPThursday

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