I spent New Year's week in Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii with my wife and a pair of friends. With the temperatures in the 70s and low 80s during the day and fish on the grill nearly ever night, the times called for well-chilled, fresh-tasting white wines. Given my tasting beats, I don't get a chance to taste California wines very often, but the Golden State influence is strong in the Hawaiian retail sector, so I indulged. I've always been partial to Sonoma wines, given their relative value and quality, and in the chilled wine rack of the local supermarket I spied an old reliable: La Crema Chardonnay. It was a 2006 from the Sonoma Coast appellation and cost $21 a bottle.
I must admit trepidation when approaching Golden State Chardonnays, given their sometimes overoaked nature. While the La Crema did indeed show plenty of oak influence, the wood was well integrated and didn't overwhelm the ripe pear, apple and citrus flavors. I chalk this up to the Sonoma Coast origin: While this sprawling appellation is the source of some controversy given its wide-ranging boundaries, it does provide the cool climate necessary for the fresh fruit flavors and acidity that I look for in Chardonnay. Smooth and supple, the La Crema also showed a rich vein of pineapple flavors, which I hope wasn't too enhanced by the tropical setting! I rated the wine 89 points, non-blind, for its lively and exotic profile.