I Love Reviewing Fine Wine – A Pinot Noir From Sonoma Coast, California

La Crema has been in the wine business for more than 30 years. Their vineyards are located in five great areas of California, where they cultivate mostly but not exclusively Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Today’s offering comes from the Sonoma Coast. This exclusive area is significantly cooler than its surroundings due to the fog covering the Coast Ranges, in sight of the Pacific Ocean. Are you surprised that it’s a half bottle at the price we often pay for full bottles? And as the winery web site explains, the grapes are hand harvested in the early morning for maximum quality. The companion wine, another Pinot Noir, comes from that illustrious European banking family, the Rothschilds. Ounce for ounce it costs about one quarter as much.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review have been purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed La Crema Pinot Noir 2010 13.9 % alcohol about $17 (half bottle).

We will start by quoting the marketing materials. “Tasting Note : Bright ruby-red. Lively, floral accented aromas of red berries and rose, with a subtle peppery nuance in the background. Silky and round on the palate, offering fresh red currant and raspberry flavors and a sexy floral pastille nuance. Pure, nicely focused Pinot Noir with good lingering spiciness. Score – 89. (Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, May 2012) And now for my review.

At the first sips this wine was expressive with lots of earth. It was dark. Japanese rice crackers with no Wasabi brought out sweetness and dark cherries. The main dish consisted of homemade Shepherd’s Pie. In response this libation was very long and mouth filling. It offered fine acidity and light tannins. The accompanying mixed salad, which was composed of tomatoes, red cabbage, red pepper, red onion, cucumbers, and cilantro, rendered our Sonoma friend multilayered. Don’t let them tell you that wine won’t go with salad. Green, garlicy Yemeni Jalapeno Pepper sauce on the meat rendered the wine powerful, full of dark cherries. But the excessive sweetness prevented the combo from being great.

The second meal centered on slow cooked beef round steak. The drink came out very long and multilayered. I sensed sweet tobacco and light tannins in my glass. White potatoes that had been cooked alongside the meat brought tobacco to the fore. The pairing was very pleasant. Things were virtually the same when I went to the accompanying sweet potatoes. Fresh pineapple for dessert rendered the Pinot Noir dark but shorter.

The final meal’s piece de resistance was a baked salmon filet that had been marinated in agave and sesame seeds. In response this little La Crema displayed great power, fine balance between acidity and tannins, and tobacco. But it was too sweet. The steamed quinoa pairing gave me more of the same with additional tobacco. The wine was dark. Fresh strawberries made oak come into play in my glass but the wine was once again too sweet.

Final verdict. I would buy this wine again. If they could only do something about that excessive sweetness I would really want to buy it again.

Levi Reiss authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but prefers drinking fine wine. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines and a whole lot more. Visit his Italian travel website www.travelitalytravel.com.

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