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: Cognac.
2015 Loosen Bros, DR. L Dry Riesling, Mosel, Germany $15
One of my most memorable wine trips (and I’ve taken hundreds of them) was to visit Ernst Loosen (pronounced low-zen) at his winery by the steep, slate-based slopes of the Mosel river. He is a charismatic vintner with a passion for Riesling and his brilliant bottlings are favorites of mine. The family’s Dr. L line of wines is an ideal way to start your exploration of German Riesling. They do offer a sweeter version, but this dry, citrus and mineral-scented white with a zing of
Granny Smith-apple acidity, is a food wine extraordinaire. Spicy curry…check. Grilled fish…check. Fresh cheeses…check. It’s a white for year-round sipping.
2015 Long Meadow Ranch Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, California$40
When I first met Ted and Laddie Hall at their remarkable property in Napa called Long Meadow Ranch, I was enamored by their passion and commitment to living from and with the land. They grow olive trees (and make delicious olive oil), apple trees, and even graze cattle. Their son, Chris, is at the helm of their inspired eatery, Farmstead. Their wines have always impressed me as well. Over the years, they’ve added vineyards to their Napa portfolio and this elegant Pinot Noir from northern Napa neighbor, Alexander Valley, is silky, stylish and a pure pleasure to drink. A beautiful example of the delicately complex Pinots that have made Alexander Valley famous.
2014 Dutcher Crossing, ‘Maple Vineyard’ Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, California $45
Owner, Debra Mathy, had always dreamed of owning a winery and realized that dream more than a decade ago with Dutcher Crossing. A rustically elegant place that produces a wide range of wine, it carries the Zin torch with aplomb. Dry Creek Valley is arguably the best place for Zinfandel in northern California and this vineyard-designate version captures a sense of place. It is balanced with dark fruit flavors, intense spicy aromas, and richness that wraps your palate in pleasure. Make a stop there on your next trip to Sonoma and taste through a variety of their Zins. Tell them Leslie sent you.
2014 Sea Smoke Cellars, ‘Ten’ Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, California $82
When Pinot Noir is remarkable, there’s nothing like it. I have imbibed my fair share of great examples, but Sea Smoke ranks among my most treasured tastes of Pinot Noir. Hailing from a stunning hillside, fog-laden (hence the name) estate vineyard in the cool Sta. Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara, Sea Smoke’s Pinots have garnered rave reviews for a reason. They’re damn fine. I had the opportunity to visit the property a number of years ago and it is impressive. (Just peruse their website for photos and prepare to be transported.) Their flagship bottling is dubbed ‘Ten’ as it uses ten different clones of Pinot Noir from their vineyard. This gives layers of complexity and character. The wine is lush, full and deeply fruited. It definitely lives up to the name -- I give it a perfect 10.
No. 209 Barrel Reserve Gin $60
When you look at the color of this spirit – a light amber hue – your brain doesn’t go to Gin. No, maybe a lighter style of Bourbon or Scotch whisky. Could be a Cognac. But, alas, it’s Gin. Gin aged in barrels used to make Chardonnay, that is. This process gives the spirit its color and toffee-like notes while maintaining the still-prevalent Gin character of herbal aromas, orange peel and juniper. Crafted in San Francisco at the No. 209 distillery, which has a rich history and connection to Napa Valley’s wine country, it’s a marriage of two worlds. I love to pour a glass and simply sip this unique spirit.