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2010 Best Pinot Noir: La Crema

Author: Cerrissa MacNichols
May, 2010 Issue

La Crema Pinot Noirs are no strangers to awards. The 2008 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was the highest scoring Pinot Noir in the Wine and Spirits 21st Annual Restaurant Poll (April 2010), and the 2007 Los Carneros Pinot Noir was given 91 points by Robert Parker in February 2010. It’s no wonder NorthBay biz readers voted for this past winner once again. “I think a consumer expects consistency, high quality and value, and we try to over-deliver,” says Winemaker Melissa Stackhouse.

Founded in 1979, La Crema specializes in Burgundian varietals, hand crafting ultra-premium Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays as well as a limited amount of Pinot Gris, Viognier and Syrah. “We strive for elegance and balance. It helps in achieving a level of quality people have come to expect,” says Stackhouse, noting it’s important for her to produce a wine that’s approachable and accessible.

Stackhouse says she often gets emails from individuals who will tell her they remember a certain wine that was served at an event that was very special for them, such as a wedding or anniversary party. “I love hearing from people,” she says. “Creating memorable experiences is the whole point of what we do.”

For 30 years, La Crema has been focused on the North Coast, with grapes grown in the Russian River Valley, Los Carneros, Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley, but it’s recently expanded its portfolio into the Monterey area. The 2007 Monterey Chardonnay, the first vintage, and a 2008 Pinot Noir are available this year.

The Monterey appellation begins north of the Monterey Bay and includes the Carmel and Salinas valleys.  This area is known for having the longest cool-climate growing season in the United States. Bud break occurs two weeks earlier and harvest starts two weeks later than on the Sonoma Coast. The warm temperatures in the spring protect against the spring frosts. Pinot Noir thrives in the northern and central parts of the AVA where the long growing season provides the vineyards with an extended hang time. The result is complex and intense flavors without overwhelming ripeness.

La Crema is a part of the Jackson Family wine portfolio and is owned by sisters Laura Jackson Giron and Jennifer Jackson. Although La Crema Winery isn’t open to the public, it does have a beautiful tasting room that’s open seven days a week in downtown Healdsburg (235 Healdsburg Avenue) and an active wine club that offers members discounts on wine purchases and access to special events.

Last year, these included a winter meal with Stackhouse in the winery’s barrel room and an outdoor barbecue with a view of the Wings Over Wine Country airshow.



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