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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Mahila by Azalina's, Le Paradis, A Mano

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 15 episode 7 airs Thursday, May 14 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

In San Francisco’s Noe Valley, Mamak cuisine shines at Mahila by Azalina’s, a triumphant Malaysian restaurant helmed by acclaimed chef Azalina Eusope. Eastwards in Hayward, fresh and healthy Vietnamese fare paired with classic French pastries delights at Le Paradis. Finally, the search for upscale, Italian comfort food ends in Hayes Valley with freshly-made pasta at A Mano.

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 15 episode 7. (Olivia Won/KQED)

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Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine
Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine (Courtesy of Leslie Sbrocco)

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.

2015 Argyle Brut Rosé
Willamette Valley, Oregon, $50
As a fan of sparkling from Oregon, I’ve tasting many world-class examples. But, the bubbly benchmarks in Willamette Valley are those from Argyle. Rollin Soles founded the winery back in 1987 with the goal of making serious sparklers. He did, and now winemaker, Nate Klostermann, is continuing the winery’s passion for excellence. This pink bubbly is a delicious detour from drinking Champagne or California sparkling wine. Crisp and complex, it’s a Pinot Noir-based bottle of effervescence.


2018 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc
 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California $36
When talking about leading women of wine in the world, Merry Edwards ranks among the top tier. She is a California winemaking icon that has crafted classy wines for more than four decades. Though handing over the winemaking reins to Heidi von der Mehden, Merry’s mission remains the same – letting the vineyards shine. This Sauvignon Blanc is one of California’s best. It uses barrel fermentation for complexity and showcases the aromatic qualities of the clone, Sauvignon Musqué. Ripe fruit and floral notes draw you in, then one sip leads to another as you savor the crisp, minerally white. When I see this wine on any restaurant wine list, I grab it. It’s a beauty to explore.

2017 Merry Edwards ‘Meredith Estate’ Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, $68
This special Meredith Estate Pinot Noir is the pride and joy of the winery. Using estate fruit, it’s a Pinot Noir that embodies the silky qualities of the grape. Smooth and sultry with red berry flavors and a dark spice kick on the finish, it’s a wine to pair with dishes from bacon-wrapped, orange marmalade-glazed pork tenderloin to creamy, pungent cheeses. It’s also a treat to simply uncork the bottle and enjoy a glass in your pajamas.

2016 Adobe Road Winery 'Shift' Red Blend
Sonoma County, California, $56
What a cool bottle. That’s all I can say. When this wine arrived in my office from a local producer (I also live in Sonoma County’s town of Petaluma where the tasting room is based), I immediately stopped to admire it. Resembling a vintage gear shaft with the cork as a shift knob, it’s eye-catching. My car is a stick shift, so I fell for it just from the package alone. The owner, Kevin Buckler, is a legendary race car driver so it makes sense. The wine is delicious fun, too. A blend of Zinfandel, Barbera, Grenache and Petite Sirah, it’s bold and rich. An indulgence with grilled steak or a superb gift for the car lover in your life.

El Tesoro ‘Paradiso’ Extra Anejo Tequila
Mexico, $120
As an unabashed lover of tequila, I’m always on the hunt for delicious versions. This superbly special bottling from El Tesoro ranks among the best I’ve ever sipped. A collaboration between Mexico’s El Tesoro and France’s Cognac producer, A. de Fussigny, it’s a tequila that qualifies as liquid gold. Aged for five years (hence the Extra Anejo designation) in French oak barrels that were previously used to age Cognac, it’s underlying agave earthiness is layered with notes of vanilla, caramel and toffee. Buy the bottle, then treat yourself to a nightly sip. It’s a splurge worthy of Paradise.

Wine and spirits guests drank on the set of season 15 episode 7. (Olivia Won/KQED)

Thirsty for more beverage advice? You can find more of my wine, beer and spirits tips for you here.

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