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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Mingalaba Restaurant, The Brazen Head, āina

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 12 episode 20 airs Thursday, October 19 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

Burmese flavors take us to Burlingame this week with stir-fry dishes that are neither too hot nor too spicy at Mingalaba Restaurant. But if you get a late-night hankering, while you're in the Cow Hollow district of San Francisco, the pub favorites at The Brazen Head are sure to hit the spot. Finally, we end with a love letter to the islands in the form of elevated Hawaiian cuisine at āina in San Francisco's Dogpatch.

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests having fun on the set of season 12 episode 20.
Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests having fun on the set of season 12 episode 20. (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: Hard Cider.

2016 Chronic Cellars ‘Pink Pedals’ Rosé, Paso Robles, California $15
The idea behind Chronic Cellars is to make seriously killer wine without taking themselves too seriously. Winemakers, Josh and Jake Beckett, are Paso Robles locals who wanted to launch a brand focused on easy-sipping wines made with great grapes. They call their label designs “off-color-yet-full-of-color” and the blonde skeleton pedaling a bike on this pink makes a sassy statement. A wallop of Grenache grapes with a splash of Syrah makes a succulent, watermelon and green apple-scented, dry-styled rosé perfect to pedal your cares away.


2013 Loveblock Pinot Gris, Marlborough, New Zealand $26
Erica and Kim Crawford (yes, Kim is a man) helped create Americans’ love for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The duo also ranks among my favorite vintners from the land of the long white cloud. After selling their namesake wine brand, Kim Crawford, they embarked on a passion project and founded Loveblock. A blend of hillside and valley floor grapes give weightiness yet delicacy to this lovely Pinot Gris. If you aren’t familiar with Kiwi Pinot Gris (same grape as Pinot Grigio but oh so different), this is a wine that will make you fall in love with the variety.

2015 Long Meadow Ranch Chardonnay, Anderson Valley, California $40
Long Meadow Ranch is an historic Napa property that’s home to a family creating a unique culinary community. With more than 2,000 acres of grapes, olive trees and pastures to graze cows, Laddie, Ted and Chris Hall are making a difference in how food and wine are grown and enjoyed. (They also own Farmstead restaurant in Napa, which was highlighted in Check, Please! Bay Area episode 1207). This Chardonnay hails from Mendocino’s Anderson Valley. It’s a region influenced by sunny days and cool nights. What results is Chardonnay with a ping of minerality paired with flavor-packed citrus fruit. It’s the style of Chardonnay that I crave – highly satisfying on the drinkability scale but also makes you appreciate and think about what’s in your glass. A winning combination for any wine.

2014 Black Stallion Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California $26
There are impressive places to visit in Napa Valley, but one you might not have on your radar is Black Stallion. The winery’s name is an homage to its past as an equestrian center. The powerfully sleek statue of a stallion welcomes guests, while their signature Cabernet Sauvignon sports the same unbridled power wrapped in a polished package. Classic Cabernet aromas of dark berry and cocoa, along with a full-bodied texture, makes it a red for appreciators of Napa Valley Cab. I call it a “twice-the-price” wine as it’s worth double what you pay for it.

2014 Vistalba ‘Corte B’ Red Blend, Mendoza, Argentina $25
Vintner, Carlos Pulenta, has a rich family history in the wine business dating back nearly a century. His vision for Vistalba, founded in 2001, was to continue the family focus and create the best possible wines from his property in the famed Mendoza region of Luján de Cuyo. Three blends – Corte A, B and C – lead the project showcasing the magical combination of mostly Malbec with Cabernet Sauvignon and a touch of local grape, Bonarda. The best value, in my opinion, is the Corte B. The other two wines (less and more expensive respectively), are full of character as well, but the Corte B highlights Malbec’s rugged intensity and fruit-forward appeal. The wine is complex and layered but approachable. It’s one of my top picks of 2017.

Wine that guests drank on the set of season 12 episode 20.
Wine that guests drank on the set of season 12 episode 20. (Wendy Goodfriend)

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