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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: CALA, Moss Beach Distillery, Rocker Oysterfeller's Kitchen + Saloon

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 12 episode 18 airs Thursday, October 5 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

Find elevated Mexican cuisine at CALA’s in San Francisco where you’ll find sustainable fish and high-end tacos and a philanthropic mission. Meanwhile, Moss Beach Distillery in San Mateo County, offers seafood, views and otherworldly cocktails! Then it’s back to the Wild Wild West at Valley Ford’s Rocker Oysterfeller’s Kitchen + Saloon for oysters and southern comfort food.

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests having fun on the set of season 12 episode 18.
Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests having fun on the set of season 12 episode 18. (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, beer and spirits tips with each episode. This week I discuss: Absinthe.

Le Grand Courtâge, Brut Blanc de Blancs, France $18
If you are a fan of sparkling wine, you’ll want to stock up on this bubbly for the upcoming holidays. Though crafted in France, it’s not Champagne (that only comes from the region of the same name). Made by American, Tawnya Falkner, who followed her passion to produce wine in Europe she puts her mantra on the bottles proclaiming, “Embrace Life. Dream Big. Accept All Invitations.” This delightfully dry, yet succulently fruity fizz is elegantly packaged making it an ideal gift item, too. Vive la France!


2016 Pazo Señoráns Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain $20
Having had the pleasure of visiting the wine region of Rias Baixas numerous times over the past decade, each time I return home with a deeper love of Albariño. The white grape is grown in this lush, green portion of western Spain – site of the famed pilgrimage city of Santiago de Campostela. This coastal area is home to fish of all shapes and sizes and is the natural partner for crisp, refreshing Albariño-based wines. Pazo de Señoráns is a family-owned, historic property that produces expressive whites layered with complexity. It ranks among the region’s best. Floral aromas combine with flavors of Asian pear and zesty minerality in a wine made to pair with myriad dishes — from oysters to salads to young cheeses.

2014 Goldeneye Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, California $56
Pinot Noir is a diva grape variety that produces some of the world’s most ethereal wine. But, it is also difficult to grow properly and only does well in select regions of the world. Anderson Valley is one of those regions. It’s influenced by coastal breezes, which seals in the ripe yet vibrant flavors created by California sunshine. Part of the Duckhorn family of wines, Goldeneye’s signature Anderson Valley Pinot is lush with red fruit-driven flavors and a kick of freshness. It’s a wine crafted with class and finesse.

2012 Gillmore ‘Hacedor De Mundos’ Old Vines Cabernet Franc, Maule Valley, Chile $40
I don’t give points to wine but if I did, this would receive a near-perfect, 100-point score. I adore it and it ranks among the best wines I’ve had in the past decade. Deep purple in hue with notes of dark fruits, tobacco, brown spices and tea leaves, it marries juicy fruit flavors with underlying earthy depth. The texture is supple with perfectly polished tannins. Made from dry-farmed, old vines planted in the 1940s then grafted to European varieties in the remote area of Chile’s Maule Valley, the limited-production yet affordable wine is breathtaking. The Gillmore family is at the helm of the winery and are producing wines (their flagship Carignan makes me swoon, too) with true character that express the terroir of this hidden-treasure wine region.

2013 Laurel Glen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County, California $70
Collectors of California Cabernet who know their history might be able to tell you about Laurel Glen, but my guess is not many. The winery started in 1968 and has quietly been crafting age-worthy, award-winning wines of intensity and stature. Planted high atop Sonoma Mountain, their rugged vineyards beget inky-purple wine with classic Cabernet flavors of dark fruit, black pepper, and dusty cocoa. The lauded 2013 vintage is one to cellar for decades, but if you just can’t wait to sample this beautifully masculine wine, decant it for at least two hours and serve alongside grilled steak or roast beef. You’ll taste history in a glass.

Wine that guests drank on the set of season 12 episode 18.
Wine that guests drank on the set of season 12 episode 18. (Wendy Goodfriend)

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