La Crema SC Chardonnay 2018

To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March I tasted and reviewed La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay from JACKSON FAMILY WINES. Proprietor Barbara R Banke has led the company for the last two decades.

Winemaker Jen Walsh:

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Wine Maker Jen Walsh grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and during schooldays and university worked in restaurants that enabled her to sample the best of wines. She worked at Elk Run in Maryland, a small family estate, where she learned while working in the vineyard in the morning and the winery in the afternoon, how hard work, dedication and passion was needed to bring grapes from the vine to the bottle. Jen then moved west to receive her Master’s degree in Viticulture and Oenology, at the University of California Davis.

She worked at Benovia Winery in Russian River Valley and several other wineries in Sonoma and Napa before joining La Crema in 2017. Jen was awarded a Tastevin Scholarship in Burgundy, which she regards as the most formative experience in her winemaking career. This is very much evident when I tasted this fantastic chardonnay.

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2018

On the nose, there was buttery shortbread, lemon zest, white blossom, vanilla, crisp apple and a faint trace of nutmeg. On the palate, I found peaches, pears, lemon, Newtown Pippins apples (reminiscent of my childhood as our garden had 49 apple trees, mainly that variety), wonderful butteriness from malolactic fermentation, melon, pear, sweet almonds, vanilla and a distinctive minerality. This wine was perfectly balanced between fruit and acidity. It was also long on the palate.

Old world/new world.. or just one world?

When my friends would ask me 40 years ago, whether I drank New World wines I said that I did. The comparison I made then was between a cabochon cut diamond and a brilliant cut. The cabochon would be exquisite but the brilliant-cut with its many facets would show one after another different lights. So often in those days, New World wines would have one great facet, whereas Old World Wines would display a myriad of flavours. That is no longer true and even in those days, if you could afford the top of the range, you could obtain the sophistication on the palate of an Old-World Wine.

La Crema 2018 is a great example of a New World wine that displays the sophistication of a multi-faceted wine and no doubt Jen Walsh’s time as a Tastevin scholar in Burgundy has led her to develop this wine that can stand alongside a classic White Burgundy and hold its own.

La Crema Sonoma CoastBeneath the blanket mist, lie the vineyards that produce La Crema in Sonoma in N. California

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On the menu:

I drank this wine with tempura prawns, which brought out the peach notes. I then tried it with my own home-made fish pie (smoked haddock, salmon, monkfish, prawns, scallops, leeks and white mushrooms in a Bechamel sauce with cream, lemon, dill and parsley) which complimented it perfectly, its minerality, acidity, lemon and apple cutting through the richness of the fish pie sauce. Finally, La Crema went brilliantly with Cropwell Bishop No. 1 Beauval, a creamy blue cheese.

I would also imagine that this would be a perfect foil for Lobster Thermidor, with the cool climate chardonnay characteristic of crispness, which would cut across the richness of the dish while the butteriness would provide a comforting, complimentary flavour. This would also apply to any shellfish cooked in a creamy sauce.

I know that La Crema would go well with Breton Chicken and any pork dish cooked in a creamy sauce. It would go well with a soft goat’s cheese such as Rosary or a Normandy Chevre.

At an average price of £21 a bottle in the UK, La Crema is about half the price of a decent white Burgundy of similar quality, so I would urge you to try it.

 Visit Wine Searcher for ordering information.

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