Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Flatiron, Shakewell, Firenze By Night

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 11 episode 6 airs Thursday, May 19 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

Comfort food meets sports-bar-chic at this family-friendly neighborhood spot in San Rafael, called Flatiron. Next, Mediterranean flavors, complex cocktails and a warm welcome are served up in a contemporary setting at Oakland's Shakewell. Finally, old school, Italian fare combines with old world "familia" charm in a classic North Beach eatery called Firenze by Night.

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of the episode 6 of season 11.
Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of the episode 6 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, beer, and spirits 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: vermouth and how is it best used.

2014 Joseph Carr Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California $22
Joseph Carr started his eponymous wine brand more than a decade ago aiming to craft high-quality wine with an approachable price tag. Its popularity has increased over the years with accolades from press and consumers. This Chardonnay shows why Joseph Carr wines have resonated with wine drinkers. A blend of grapes from cool-climate vineyards in the Russian River and the Sonoma Coast, it's fruit-driven friendliness is what draws you in. That's soon followed by a core of taut minerality wrapped with a creamy texture. With my eyes closed, I just might think this is a premier cru from Burgundy in France, but for a fraction of the price.


2012 Joseph Carr Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville, Napa Valley, California $40
Winemaker Aaron Pott -- one of the most respected craftsmen in Napa and France -- joined forces with Joseph Carr in 2010 to bring the wines to a world-class level. The goal of both men is to create wines that express their birthplace. This Cabernet hails from Napa's newest recognized growing region (or AVA) named Coombsville. Grown in vineyards with volcanic soil deposited from the nearby Vaca mountain range, the long growing season allows for elegance yet intensity in this velvety red. It's a wine worth twice the price. I challenge you to taste it alongside Napa Cabs in the $100 range and you will be impressed with its complexity and quiet power.

Jansz Rose Sparkling Wine, Tasmania, Australia $25
Named as an ode to the Dutch explorer who discovered the Australian island in 1642, this stunning sparkler showcases an emerging frontier for bubbly. Originally crafted 30 years ago with input from Champagne's famed house of Louis Roederer, the winery is now owned by one of Australia's first families of wine, the Hill-Smiths. The island is cool (if not downright cold) and home to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that ranks with the best in the world. This pale-hued pink fizz captures wild strawberry fruit notes with a sassy freshness that is perfectly paired with a variety of foods from salty nuts and popcorn to seared salmon. #Love.

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