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La Crema chardonnay from Sonoma Coast is worth the extra money

This part of the Sonoma wine region is associated with cool climate wines, like pinot noir and sparkling wine.

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
La Crema Sonoma Coast ChardonnayRead moreCourtesy of La Crema

Great Wine Values

Sonoma is California’s second most famous wine region, with nearly as much name recognition as neighboring Napa. Both are counties located north of the San Francisco Bay Area. Fine wines were first pioneered in the late 19th century near the city of Sonoma, but when the global fine wine revolution of the 1970s finally revived American wine prospects, it was Napa’s environs that experienced the first successes and name recognition. When Napa Valley was formalized as an American Viticultural Area, its forward-thinking vintners collaborated to map out a patchwork of sub-districts, which are now legal appellations in their own right. But the process of developing wine appellations was messier in Sonoma County and has resulted in a more confusing landscape for wine drinkers to navigate.

Sonoma County is the largest appellation, but also the least prestigious, with the loosest quality standards. Within the county line, three superior appellations include the key word “Sonoma”: Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Mountain. Of these, only Sonoma Coast is strongly associated with cool climate wine styles, like chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wine. Its terrain is often draped in fog due to cold ocean currents along its rocky shore, which slows the rush to ripeness and allows grapes to develop high levels of sugar and flavor without losing balancing acidity. It is rare to find Sonoma Coast bottlings under $20 but their superior quality makes them worth the extra spend, as with this opulent chardonnay, loaded with flavors of white peaches and lemon meringue pie.

La Crema Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, California

$19.99; 13.5% alcohol

PLCB Item #8313

Sale price through Jan. 3, 2021– regularly $21.99

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