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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Philomena, Amakara, Palm City Wines

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Check, Please! Bay Area, season 17, episode 7, airs Thursday, September 8, at 7:30 pm, on KQED 9. See other television airtimes, and never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

In Oakland, Philomena elevates East Coast sports bar classics with West Coast flair. New York-style pizzas, cheesesteaks, and hearty skillet creations meet fresh local ingredients (think blackberry bacon basil breakfast pizza and cinnamon swirl challah French toast). Dublin’s Amakara offers unexpected and creative takes on sushi rolls, clever cocktails, and other classic Japanese favorites. Next, discover hoagie heaven in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset, as Palm City Wines slings generous stacked hoagies along with a variety of local beer and wines in a welcoming neighborhood atmosphere. Finally, reporter Cecilia Phillips visits Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery in Sonoma County, a multigenerational family operation that’s in the business of cheese; their handcrafted, Italian-style artisan cheeses are grate to go or enjoyed on site in their picturesque picnic space.

Host Leslie Sbrocco joins guests Anthony Dazhan, Serena Dhillon and Dyanna Volek from KQED in San Francisco.

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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.


2018 Clos Pegase Extra Brut ‘Mitsuko's Vineyard’ Sparkling Wine
Carneros, Napa Valley, California, $60
Clos Pegase rests in northern Napa Valley and is a special spot to visit. The winery itself is a piece of art and so are the wines. Designed by noted architect, Michael Graves, the visually stunning property event boasts 20,000 feet of caves dug into the nearby volcanic hillside. Their wines range from crisp whites to sultry reds and this singular bottling is a sparkling gem. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Mitsuko’s Vineyard located in the cool growing region of Carneros, the crisp, creamy bubbly takes its name from the late wife of co-founder, Jan Shrem. Both Mitsuko and Jan helped shape this winery into one of Napa’s most iconic.

2021 Be Human Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé
Horse Heaven Hills, Washington, $18
Pink wines are not often serious business instead focused on fun, but this wine is both. Crafted with juice from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown in the highly regarded Horse Heaven Hills area of Washington’s Columbia Valley, this lively rosé sports red-berry fruit notes with underlying herbal complexity. It pairs as easily poolside as it does tableside with a price tag for everyday enjoyment. As the winery says, Be Human are “wines for the human race — for our tapestry of voices and choices. With the recognition that what makes us different, makes us wonderful.” I’ll raise a glass to that.

2018 Silverado Vineyards ‘Limited’ Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, California, $300 (three-pack $900)
Normally I don’t recommend wines that cost hundreds of dollars per bottle, but I couldn’t resist on this one. It’s simply remarkable. Since the storied Napa Valley winery was founded 41 years ago by Ron and Diane Miller and her mother, Lillian Disney, only 15 exceptional vintages of the Limited Cabernet Sauvignon have been bottled. The 2018 is arguably the best. Hailing from the estate’s historic vineyards in Coombsville and Stags Leap District, a mere 657 cases were produced. This age-worthy red, which is both lush yet elegant and deeply complex, is a decadent treat to drink now but will shine even more brightly in a decade or two. For those with a cellar looking to add a classic Napa Valley Cabernet, this is the wine to buy.

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

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