Check, Please! Bay Area’s second season episode 2 (202) profiles and reviews these three Bay Area restaurants:
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My name is Leslie Sbrocco and I’m the host of Check, Please! Bay Area. Each week, I will be sharing my tasting notes about the wine the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show. Also, in my “What to Sip” suggestions, I choose one restaurant from each show and offer tips for selecting libations to enjoy with your meal.
Wine of the Week:
2005 WillaKenzie Estate, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon $18
Explosively aromatic and juicy, this wine is an excellent example of how Pinot Gris shines in Oregon. This white grape variety is related to Pinot Noir (Pinot Noir means Pinot “black,” versus Pinot “gray” or Gris) and has darker-hued skins, which lends a spicy fullness to the wine. Known for producing crisp, citrusy whites in northern Italy, where it’s dubbed Pinot Grigio, in France’s Alsace region, Pinot Gris makes ripe and fleshy wines. Oregon versions fall somewhere in the middle — sassy acidity, paired with a succulently full mouthfeel.
What to Sip: Absinthe
Reminiscent of a Parisian bistro, Absinthe sports a wine list that would put any restaurant in France to shame. A savvy collection of worldwide winners ranging in price from $30 a bottle to more than $300, the list is home to famous names and undiscovered treasures. Pricing is respectful, and whatever you have to spend, you’ll find a wine that is sure to please.
Gosset, Excellence, Brut, Champagne, France $39 (half bottle)
Bit of bubbly, anyone? I’m a fan of wine lists that offer half bottles, as it makes it easy to kick off the night with bubbly. This bottle will fill two to three glasses and is an ideal pairing for Absinthe’s oysters or caviar, or even their fabulous frites. Belly up to the bar, then order Gosset Champagne and French fries for a perfect introduction to Absinthe.
Catena, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina $40
With the grilled rib-eye steak, you won’t find a better match than this. Inky-black Malbec is Argentina’s signature grape variety and though hearty, spicy, and powerful, the wine doesn’t do a tango on your tongue.
Tilenus, Mencia, Bierzo, Spain $41
If Coq au Vin is what you’re ordering, consider stepping outside the traditional pairing of red Burgundy (made from Pinot Noir) with the earthy dish and go for a unique Spanish red. Mencia is a rare grape variety planted in the mountainous, northeastern region of Bierzo in Spain. Bierzo produces reds with a silky, earthy elegance that just might give Burgundy Pinot envy.