Check, Please! Bay Area Season 11 Premiere Reviews: The Hummingbird, Sumika and Orexi

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 11 premiere airs Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

Our first stop is a charming Creole-inspired spot where classic New Orleans dishes and fresh California ingredients come together for breakfast, lunch and brunch at The Hummingbird in Fairfax. Next, we venture to the South Bay for Japanese fare with steaming bowls of rice and noodles and modern plates of grilled morsels at Sumika in Los Altos. Lastly, it's the Mediterranean island flavors of Greece, served up in a contemporary version of the traditional taverna that tempt us at Orexi Restaurant in San Francisco.

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of the premiere episode of season 11.
Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of the premiere episode of season 11. (Wendy Goodfriend)

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Host Leslie Sbrocco tasting wine.
Host Leslie Sbrocco tasting wine. (Wendy Goodfriend)

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 Sonoma Coast.

2014 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc, Napa/Sonoma, California ($39)
Spottswoode is not only one of California’s most historic wineries, in my opinion, it ranks among the world’s top producers. Dating to 1882, the Napa Valley estate (including the beautiful Victorian home illustrated on the labels) was purchased by the Novak family in 1972. Today, the Novak women -- Beth and Lindy – carry on the family legacy. Their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon is rightly celebrated for its elegance and ageworthiness. With limited production and a triple digit price tag, it’s coveted by collectors making it a splurge worth seeking out. My insider tip, however, is to start your Spottswoode journey with their Sauvignon Blanc. A classy white for those serious about Sauvignon, this wine is aromatic and focused. It sits alongside many of the best examples of the variety globally, but most importantly, it’s a deliciously drinkable white. It belongs poolside with a good book or tableside with simply prepared dishes. Either way, the wine will shine.

2012 Château La Nerthe, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, ($63)
With a global reputation for quality, Château La Nerthe’s wines are benchmarks when it comes to expression of terroir (the French term for the taste of the place in the glass). As one of the oldest properties in the famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape region of southern France, this producer’s roots go deep, dating to the 12th century. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is known for its signature sandy soil topped with galettes, which are baseball-sized glacial rocks that came from the Alps millennia ago. This unique combination captures and radiates heat creating the ideal environment to grow sun-loving Rhône grapes. All of the 14 varieties allowed in Chateauneuf blends are planted at the La Nerthe estate. Their Rouge – a mélange of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault – is crafted from organically grown grapes with an average vine age of 40 years old. Sporting rose petal and brown spice aromas with smoky, earthy undertones, this supple yet structured red captures the essence of the land where it’s grown. La Nerthe is a beauty with substance and style.


2012 Palmaz Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California ($120)
Part of an elite group I call “new classics” of Napa Valley, Palmaz is one of the most stunning properties I’ve ever visited…and I’ve been to hundreds of wineries around the globe. The expansive estate is an enviable marriage of history and innovation. Located on the flank of Mount George in southern Napa, the property has been producing wine since 1881 when Henry Hagen created Cedar Knoll Vineyards. After achieving great acclaim, it was abandoned for decades. In the late 1990s Argentinian-born, Julio and Amalia Palmaz, acquired the estate after falling in love with Napa Valley during Julio’s medical studies at University of California - Davis. Along with their grown children, Florencia and Christian (and his wife Jessica), they refurbished the historic Hagen home and built a stunning gravity flow winery into an 18-story cavern in the mountain. What’s emerging from this unique cellar are world class wines. Chardonnay and Riesling are the hidden gems packed with purity and complexity, but their Cabernet Sauvignon is the icon. The 2012 is a great vintage in Napa and this opulently-styled version is plush and powerful.

Wines that guests drank on the set of the premiere episode of season 11.
Wines that guests drank on the set of the premiere episode of season 11. (Wendy Goodfriend)