Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Turtle Tower Restaurant, Copper Spoon Cocktails and Kitchen, Papillon Restaurant

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 15 episode 10 airs Thursday, June 4 at 7:30 pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. Never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

From Season 8, we start at Turtle Tower Restaurant, a Northern Vietnamese phở establishment in San Francisco’s Richmond District, where richly spiced broth and house-made noodles steal the show. Next, from Season 13, it’s off to Oakland's Temescal, where an eclectic hometown spot serves expertly crafted cocktails and a market-driven California menu at Copper Spoon Cocktails and Kitchen. Finally, from Season 10, we fly to Papillon Restaurant in Fremont for a romantically-lit, fine dining treasure that delights with Old World classics like flambéed cherry jubilee and escargot.

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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.

NV Faire La Fête Brut Rosé, Crémant de Limoux Brut
France, $20
Crémant is a term I encourage all fizz lovers to know. It refers to sparkling wine produced in regions of France that aren’t in Champagne (yes, Champagne is a wine AND a place). These include Crémant de Loire,  Alsace and Bourgogne. Crémant de Limoux, however, is the most important to know because it’s where France’s original sparkling wine – dating back to 1531 – was made. This pale pink sparkler is mostly Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc with Pinot Noir made in their original Méthode Traditionnelle (bubbles created in the bottle). Its succulent berry fruit notes are balanced with a soft effervesce that says, “party in a glass.” Pop this affordable find with sushi, satay skewers, or a charcuterie platter.


2019 Calcu Reserva Especial Rosé
Colchagua Valley, Chile, $13
One of the best-value pink wines on the market every year comes from Calcu. It’s a hidden gem from Chile’s Colchagua Valley. The name refers to the local language’s word for “a healing doctor” and the wines reflect this unique place. Calcu’s rosé is made with mostly Malbec and a dash of Petite Verdot crafted into a dry, delicate garnet wine. You will want to stock up on this beauty as it’s the ultimate in summer sipping. Fresh enough for an afternoon glass on the patio but flavorful enough to pair with flank steak and roast chicken.

2016 Black Stallion ‘Gaspare Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon
Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, California, $75
When Gaspare and Caterina Indelicato arrived to America from Sicily in 1924, they started growing grapes in central California. Their family eventually built a wine empire known as Delicato Family Wines. Their Gaspare Vineyard anchors the property and this 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon from the vineyard is made in tribute to the family’s patriarch. Rich and bold with intense dark fruit flavors, it sports enough acidity and structure to age for a decade, but it's also drinkable now.  The tannins will pair well with a grilled steak or blue cheese.

2018 Black Stallion Heritage Chardonnay
Napa Valley, California, $22
As a fan of one of California’s iconic wine brands, Delicato, I’ve been taken with their latest endeavor, Black Stallion. Their Heritage bottling is well-priced, well-balanced, well-made and well…just delicious. Utilizing French oak barrels to impart a hint of spicy vanilla notes, the stylish white wine is also aged on its lees to give creamy complexity.

2018 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel
Lodi, California, $10
The name of this wine refers to the gnarled old Zinfandel vines that produce the grapes. Spicy, peppery and powerful, it's a big red that represents the region of Lodi. Pair with barbecue ribs, smokey mole or food that has some spice and complexity.

Wine and spirits guests drank recommended by host Leslie Sbrocco. (Maya Wise/KQED)

You can find more of my wine, beer and spirits tips for you here