For a blend of Jamaican and Californian flavors using local and organic ingredients, take a trip to the Caribbean oasis at Kingston 11 Cuisine in Oakland. Local artisans gather together to supply simply-prepared fresh-food in sustainable surroundings in San Mateo at 31st Union. Our last dining destination serves a Cal-Indian menu that combines classical French cooking techniques with fresh local ingredients at The Campton Place Restaurant in San Francisco.
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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. I will also share some wine tips with each episode. This week I discuss: the trend of wines on tap.
2011 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, California ($53)
What’s so compelling about Jordan is their never-ending focus on quality paired with innovation. Founded in 1976 the classic producer has been owned by one family – the Jordan’s – with one winemaker – Rob Davis – for nearly 40 years. Davis crafts the wines with a steady hand in an elegant style. I call their approach California classic with a French flair. Though the 2011 vintage was a challenging one, this complex blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a dash of Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec, showcases red fruit freshness followed by silky tannins. It’s a wine to uncork now with a few hours of decanting or age for up to a decade.
2013 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California ($30)
I adore Chardonnay. Nothing compares with well-made, expressive versions. Usually I crave white Burgundy from France (Puligny-Montrachet makes me swoon), but Jordan’s Chardonnay ranks among my domestic favorites. The purity of Russian River fruit jumps from the glass along with Meyer lemony succulence and minerally undertones. Heralded as a vintage to remember, the 2013 Jordan Chardonnay is a world-class white that belongs on every wine lover’s table.
2014 Giesen Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($15)
The trio of brothers, Theo, Alex and Marcel Giesen, left their German homeland to make wine in New Zealand in 1981. They have built a family of world-class wines based upon the idea that wine should be delicious and enjoyable to drink. This Sauvignon Blanc brings their philosophy to life. With sunshine-bright citrus flavors and a snap of fresh herbal aromas, it’s a wine to partner with many dishes on the table from goat cheese salad to pasta primavera.
2013 Kitá Grenache Blanc “Camp 4 Vineyard,” Santa Ynez Valley, California ($22)
Looking for something impressive and unique? I was blown away when I tasted this wine. It’s a beautiful expression of Grenache Blanc, one of my favorite white grapes. The impeccably balanced combination of weightiness on the palate with vibrant fruit flavors and floral aromas is like a designer dress in a bottle.
The backstory of this producer – founded in 2010 – is fascinating, too. Tara Gomez is a native American winemaker with passion. Kitá means Our Valley Oak in her native Chumash language and her tribe owns the vineyard. As the winery says, “Like the valley oak, our wine highlights the gifts from Mother Earth and embodies the spirit of the Santa Ynez Valley. We focus on respecting the balance of soil, climate, location and taste.”
2012 Pepper Bridge “Seven Hills Vineyard,” Walla Walla Valley, Washington ($55)
Pepper Bridge is a class act. It’s a marriage of three families all working together to create wine that blends Old World sensibility with New World power. This Bordeaux-styled cuvee of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, is rich and structured with enough tannins to age gracefully for years to come. Can’t wait that long? No worries. The supple, fleshy texture and dark fruit notes make this an easy wine to uncork and enjoy tonight, too.
2014 Chateau Saint-Maur “Cuvée L’Excellence” Cotes de Provence, France ($30)
If you think rosé is simply inexpensive pink wine, think again. This producer crafts iconic rosé in the famed Cotes de Provence area of southern France (imagine holding a glass in St. Tropez and watching the celebrity world go by and you get the picture). A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and an obscure grape named Rolle, this beautifully packaged dry pink is delicate but gorgeously complex at the same time. It’s an ideal gift or simply a present to yourself.