Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Range Life, Royal Feast, Daughter Thai Kitchen
Out in the wide-open space of low-key Livermore, hyper-seasonal California cuisine gets the star treatment at the stylish Range Life. Across the bay in Millbrae, Royal Feast serves critically acclaimed Sichuan and Tangia cuisine, including the best Peking duck outside of Beijing. Finally, in Oakland’s quiet Montclair neighborhood, Daughter Thai Kitchen explodes with festive energy centered around next-generation southern Thai dishes and a colorfully dream-like ambiance.
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My name is Leslie Sbrocco and I’m the host of Check, Please! Bay Area. Each week, I’ll share my tasting notes about the wine, beer and spirits the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show.
Faustino Rosé Brut Reserva, D.O. Cava
As a bubble lover, I can attest to the fact that cava from Spain is the world’s best sparkling value. A venerable producer with century-old Rioja roots, Faustino’s fizz is one to put on your shopping list. Their rosado is made from red garnacha grapes, imparting a deep pink hue. Fruity but dry in style, the reserva is a pairing for spring salads, grilled fish and relaxed Sunday brunch.
2018 Clif Family Winery Viognier
Napa Valley, California, $32
If you’re thinking the name sounds familiar, you’re right. The owners of this Napa Valley-based operation, Gary Erikson and Kit Crawford, have family ties to the Clif Bar energy food empire. The wines reflect a commitment to their philosophy of respecting natural resources and enjoying wine with simply prepared, healthy meals. This lovely, limited-edition viognier captures the white grape variety’s floral aromatics and spicy finish. It’s ideal paired with curry dishes and creamy cheeses.
2017 Ponzi ‘Aurora Vineyard’ Chardonnay
Chehalem Mountains, Oregon, $65
The Ponzi family is celebrating 50 years of making wine in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Their ancestors helped create the Oregon wine industry, and now second-generation family members Luisa and Anna Maria run the business. With multiple tiers of wine, from affordable (try their pinot gris) to esoteric (arneis, anyone?), Ponzi is a brand that always overdelivers in quality. To splurge, try their ‘Aurora Vineyard’ Chardonnay hailing from decades-old plantings of Dijon clone vines. Its richly layered aromas pair with a kiss of creaminess on the palate and medium-bodied elegance.
2017 Ponzi ‘Avellana Vineyard’ Pinot Noir
Chehalem Mountains, Oregon, $105
For a matched set that’s a nod to Burgundy’s influence on the Willamette Valley, pair the Ponzi chardonnay with the pinot noir. Their ‘Avellana Vineyard’ is planted to 20 different clones of pinot noir vines, which impart complexity and character to the final wine. Saturated with dark-berry fruit notes and anchored by spicy, savory touches, it’s a wine to drink now with braised beef or to cellar for up to a decade.
Heavensake Junmai 12 Sake
Sake is an underappreciated drink in this country. For heaven’s sake, I hope that changes with this silky sip—it’s delicious! A beverage often referred to as rice wine, sake is actually brewed more like beer since rice starch is converted into sugar, then fermented to alcohol. Quality sake is served slightly chilled and carries a designation such as junmai (pronounced june-my). Heavensake is a Franco-Japanese venture between French cellar master, Regis Camus, and a brewery in Japan. Their classy junmai 12 is low in alcohol (only 12 percent) so it’s light and oh-so-smooth. Superb with sushi, of course, but perfect as an aperitif after a long day’s work.
Thirsty for more beverage advice? You can find more of my wine, beer and spirits tips for you here.