Wine Country favorite Bistro Don Giovanni showcases traditional Italian cuisine in Napa. Find authentic, award-winning and vibrant Mexican flavors at a roadside eatery in Sonoma called El Molino Central. Finally, it's all about the ingredient-driven small plates and artisanal wines and cocktails at 1760 in San Francisco.
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, beer and spirits tips with each episode. This week I discuss: the wines of Sicily.
2013 Stemmari "Cantodoro" Rosso Reserva, Sicily $16
On a recent trip to Sicily, Stemmari was one of my most memorable visits. The winemaker, Lucio Matricardi, is passionate about his wines, which are made at their beautiful Feudo Arancio property. What's impressive about this blend of primarily Nero d'Avola with Cabernet Sauvignon is that it acts (and tastes) like an expensive wine, but in reality ranks among my top-value picks. Notes of dark, saturated fruit and savory earthiness swirl together in a funnel cloud of flavor. The texture is supple yet vibrant, which makes it an ideal pairing for the tangy Sicilian dish, Caponata, or fish simmered with tomatoes. Pick up a few bottles and see if you don't get transported to Sicily with a sip.
2015 Tablas Creek "Patelin de Tablas Blanc" Paso Robles, California $25
As an icon in the Paso Robles region, Tablas Creek is a winery I look to as leading the Rhone-style movement in California. Founded by the Perrin family of France's Chateau de Beaucastel and Robert Haas of Vineyard Brands import company, the winery crafts the best domestic wines with a French Rhone focus. This blend is my favorite of their lineup. It's an ode to the white grapes of the Rhone marrying Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne from a selection of noted vineyards in Paso Robles. Stone fruit and nutty aromas are backed up with a smooth yet vibrant mouthfeel making it a wine not only for the dinner table, but also for cocktail hour.
2015 Il Poggione "Brancato" Rosato di Toscana, Italy $18
When I see Il Poggione on a wine label, my thoughts turn to hearty, world-class reds known as Brunello di Montalcino. Indeed, the famed producer dates back more than a century and is one of founding members of the Brunello di Montelcino consortium. Being a pink wine lover, however, when I tasted this rose I was blown away. A brilliant garnet color, the 100 percent Sangiovese rosato showcases succulent strawberry aromas and pink grapefruit flavors with pithy complexity. There is so much character packed into this wine, you might forget it's "just" pink. Note:Current release is 2016.
Rodenbach Grand Cru Ale, Belgium (four pack $16)
This classic Belgian brew is the global benchmark for sour ale. For more than 200 years Rodenbach has been crafting beer and their experience shows. The Grand Cru is a blend of two-year-old, mature ales with younger ales. This gives not only layers of complexity, but a uniquely elegant character. Being a wine lover -- especially wines with bright acidity -- this tart and refreshing beer is a welcome addition to my drinking portfolio. When pouring alongside food, I tend to treat it more like a wine, too. With its sour, zesty flavors it is a great match for roast pork loin in a cherry sauce or baked salmon with lemony beurre blanc topping.
Appleton Estate Rum Signature Blend, Jamaica $23
Though Rum has a rich past dating to the 1700s, the famous spirit is undergoing a renaissance with drinkers. No longer the domain of simply, "Rum and Coke, please," the variety and depth of Rum choices on the market are allowing imbibers to take a journey of discovery. Appelton is a must-stop on that journey. With over 265 years of history, its a category staple. Made in the Nassau Valley of Jamaica, the sugarcane that goes into this Rum gains a certain sense of place, which lends distinct flavors to the Rum. The Signature Blend combines more than 15 different ages of Rum, which gives a smooth, citrusy edge to the spirit. One of my ideal ways to enjoy it is with a splash of ginger beer and sprig of mint. Ah, take me to the islands...