A wine and cheese pairing at La Crema Tasting Room
in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California
Update July 2021: It appears that the tasting room in Healdsburg is no longer open. La Crema continues to produce cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. You can visit the La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard in the heart of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County by appointment. An historical barn has been converted into a multi-level tasting room.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Linking up this week with: