Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: La Marcha Tapas Bar, Brazen Head, Atelier Crenn

28 min

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 15 episode 13 airs Thursday, June 25 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

From Season 13, Berkeley’s La Marcha Tapas is a festive ode to Spanish Nightlife, where Taberna classics are given a distinct California twist. Next, from Season 12, it’s off to The Brazen Head in San Francisco, an old-school neighborhood bar that serves nothin’-fancy pub grub late into the night. Finally, from Season 11, experimental dishes blossom from a chef’s poetic inspiration at Atelier Crenn.

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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.

2019 Apaltagua Reserva Carmenere Rosé
Maule Valley, Chile, $12
This zesty pink from Chile is one I highly recommend every year around this time. It’s ideal for summer sipping with its pale-rose hue, pink grapefruit juiciness, and affordable price tag. A dry rosé made primarily from Chile’s signature red grape, Carmenere, with a dash of Syrah, it’s crisp, succulent and goes down easy. It’s also pretty to look at from the label to the wine. Pair alongside anything casual eaten al fresco from grilled fish to chips and salsa.

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2019 Mettler Family Vineyards Albariño
Lodi, California, $20
Though Mettler is a historic grape-growing family in California, one of their newest releases is made with a grape variety that hails from Spain. Albariño is known in western Spain’s Galicia region for producing crisp yet complex whites. In California there are only a few hundred acres planted. Mettler’s version is one of the best. Crisp, aromatic and still sporting a rich texture, it’s a wine to pour in place of Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Salud!

2017 La Crema Chardonnay
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, $30
La Crema is a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir specialist. Though crafting numerous versions of both varieties from various wine-growing regions, this Chardonnay is my favorite. It captures both richness coming from oak barrel fermentation and aging, but with a core of citrus-scented minerality and freshness to balance. It’s an excellent choice to serve as a cocktail on its own, but with food it shines. Scallops, lobster in butter, pasta in cream sauce with mushrooms and soft cheeses are all ideal partners to this elegant pour. (2018 is the current vintage)

2017 Mettler Family Vineyards Petite Sirah
Lodi, California, $25
When you want a powerful, jammy red look no further than Petite Sirah…it’s anything BUT petite. This red from the lauded grape-growing Mettler family, is unapologetically lush and saturated with dark fruit flavors. It ends with a kick of black pepper notes on the finish that keeps the full-bodied fruitiness in check. Grab a rack of ribs and settle in with a glass of this wine for a decadent night.

2017 Three Finger Jack ‘East Side Ridge’ Cabernet Sauvignon
Lodi, California $22
What a fun wine. The appealing bottle is what first catches your eye as its shape harkens to another era. It’s named for an outlaw, Three Finger Jack, who roamed California during the Gold Rush. Crafted from mostly Cabernet Sauvignon accented by Petite Sirah, Malbec and Merlot, it’s an offbeat blend with a bold taste. Hearty, spicy, full-bodied and ultra-smooth, you can saddle up next to a steak, pour yourself a glass, and toast the old days.

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

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