Santa Barbara County Wines: Check, Please! Bay Area Wine Tips

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Leslie SbroccoMy name is Leslie Sbrocco and I'm the host of Check, Please! Bay Area. Each week, I will be sharing my tasting notes about the wine the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show. I will also share some wine and spirits tips with each episode.

Check, Please! Bay Area guests drank the following wines on the set of episode 806:

2010 Brewer-Clifton "Mount Carmel" Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills, California ($52) -- Magic happens when opposites attract. That's the result when erudite ex-professor of French, Greg Brewer, collaborated with ex-surfer dude Steve Clifton to create wines in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara county under the Brewer-Clifton label. Though recognized for their Pinot Noir, what first attracted me to their wines was Chardonnay. In my opinion, the duo rank among the world's best for this variety. Closing my eyes, the minerality and elegance stands out and I feel I could be sipping Grand Cru Burgundy from France. But, the succulent fruit gives it away as hailing from somewhere else. That somewhere is the wind swept vineyard of Mount Carmel perched on a steep slope deep in the cool-climate Sta. Rita Hills. Richly textured -- like expensive raw silk in a glass -- the wine seamlessly marries caramelized pear aromas with nutty flavors in a jaw-dropping Chardonnay that's simply magical.

Brewer-Clifton Wines


2010 Brewer-Clifton "Mount Carmel" Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, California ($56) -- Like the Chardonnay from this vineyard, there is an earthy streak that runs through the wines of Mount Carmel. Peeking through as tea leaf on the nose and brown spice on the palate, it's accented by red berry freshness in a complex, alluring Pinot. The primary goal of both Greg and Steve is to "deliver the essence of the vineyard as clearly and honestly as possible." Goal accomplished.

2009 St. Francis Malbec, Sonoma Valley, California ($35) -- When it comes to power reds, Malbec ranks among the top contenders. Most recognized versions come from Argentina, but this is a California gem. The muscular, inky-hued version sports a dash of Petit Verdot and Merlot, giving layers of flavor to a wine that makes an ideal partner for grilled porterhouse steak. Meat and Malbec equals a match made in culinary heaven.

2011 St. Francis, Sonoma County ($15) -- A full-bodied, full-bore style of California Chardonnay that showcases ripe fruit flavors and toasty oak notes. Don’t over-chill! Serve with a creamy cheese, grilled chicken or salmon filet lightly draped with a mustard sauce.

Wine that Leslie Sbrocco and guests drank on the set of Check, Please Bay Area episode 806. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend