by Fred McMillin
for May 6, 1998
1979—La Crema Vinera ("cream of the vintner") winery is established in a Petaluma warehouse, dedicated to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. (It moved in 1983.)
1990—Dan Goldfield, with degrees in chemistry, philosophy and wine science, becomes the winemaker, after working at Schramsberg and Robert Mondavi for a number of vintages.
1993—Jess Jackson ( Kendall-Jackson)buys the winery and purchases all new tanks, presses and barrels. Dan is ecstatic, since it "enables me to pursue my craft in a way that was never before possible."
How does Dan use his state-of-the-art equipment? Let's look at the Pinot Noir.
Fermentation—Dan doesn't dump the crushed grapes into a vat and hope for the best. Instead, the crushed grapes spend nearly a week at a temperature too low for fermentation to occur. At a Pinot seminar I attended, Dan said this cold soak "extracts many of the most attractive characteristics from the fruit...typically raspberry and blackberry flavors." The fermentors are kept covered and gassed with carbon dioxide to prevent unwanted oxidation. After fermentation is finished, what about oak aging?
Oak—"Pinot Noir is a wine which shows oak characteristics very easily. For that reason judiciously using oak is imperative." Hence, Dan employs plenty of one-year-old French barrels. That is, they were first used to age Chardonnay for a year. Then, with the Pinot, the oak flavors are "softer and more subtle, and don't dominate the fruit."
If you have any doubt about the effectiveness of all this, try Dan's '95 Reserve Pinot Noir. My panel (and I) give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
1995 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast Reserve
To learn about the Goldfield La Crema Chardonnays, see the Aug. 6,1997 WineDay titled "Dan's Dandies."
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