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Wine Review: Get in the holiday spirit with affordable selections

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The holiday season is a good time of year for wine.

La Crema Winery has been around for over 40 years, so they must be doing something right.

Part of the secret to their success is the location, as the winery’s vineyards are on the Sonoma Coast, where pretty much everything west of the region is the Pacific Ocean. This location allows for cool Pacific breezes to blow across the vineyards, keeping the grapes from getting too hot.

What results is the grapes developing a higher sugar content. When the grapes develop too much sugar, the alcohol of the wine made from those grapes goes up, while the flavor and aroma go down. After the harvest, the grapes are turned over to a team of vintners who work their magic and turn out some interesting and affordable wines.

La Crema 2019 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($25)
Having experienced the very best of pinot noirs, it’s hard to warm up to new ones. Not only did I warm up to this wine, but it also actually impressed me. I found the aroma and the flavor to be complex and multilayered. The aroma is an ever-changing display of black cherry, blackberry and plum with leather, coffee and clove in the background. The finish is as expansive as the aroma, concentrating on plum, blackberry and boysenberry with oak in the background.

La Crema 2019 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($23)
A chardonnay wine brings out the critic in all of us; you either hate it or love it. The La Crema 2019 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is one of those chardonnays that you will just have to love. The grapes come from the Russian River Valley, which is famous for its award-winning chardonnay wines. The vintage is 2019, when the weather conditions for the grapes were picture perfect but the smoke and heat from forest fires to the south did cause some apprehension. Fortunately, there was no discernible damage done to the grapes, and the harvest and wine-making process progressed smoothly. The aroma is a complex of peach, mango, apple and lemon with hazelnut, caramel and vanilla in the background. Also complex is the flavor, featuring apple, nectarine, peach and apple, ending in a creamy butterscotch and oak finish.

La Crema 2019 Sonoma Coast Sauvignon Blanc ($25)
Sauvignon blanc grapes can produce wines in the California style, with a green apple, melon and citrus flavor up front, as well as wines in the classical European style, with a prominent grassy flavor. The Sonoma Coast Sauvignon Blanc lives in both worlds. It has the classical grassy component that has been held in check so that the California style can be the most obvious. This allows the wine to be served with a wider spectrum of foods. The wine will accompany poultry and lighter meats and is a standout with seafood. Just as a piece of history, for years, when ordering a wine in an Asian restaurant it most often resulted in a bottle of Wan Fu, a French sauvignon blanc with a very Asian-inspired label. This confirms the variety’s ability to beautifully accompany Asian foods of any type. Some serious experimentation also has resulted in discovering that this wine will fit nicely with Mexican dishes, as well as being a fine choice to accompany the Christmas and New Year’s holiday dinners.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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