the series: appellation series
Here at La Crema, we are passionate about terroir. In a literal sense, terroir is the unique characteristics of a site – everything from soil, wind and temperature to the neighboring eucalyptus trees or distance from the sea. In essence, it simply means that one wine cannot be duplicated elsewhere. Produced in limited quantities, our Appellation wines are firmly rooted in this concept.
the place: russian river valley
Chardonnay is a chameleon – readily taking on the character of its growing site and winemaking technique. Cloaked in the cool coastal fog that rolls over the vineyards each evening, Chardonnay grown in the Russian River Valley retains a lively acidity and crispness as it ripens slowly in the cool climate. We love the vibrant, perfumed aromatics and fresh, bright fruit flavors.
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.