What is Leslie Drinking? Season 14 Check Please, Bay Area Episodes 1 and 2

Over the course of the 14 seasons of Check, Please, I’ve had the privilege of sharing a number of incredible wines and spirits with my viewers and readers. This season, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites for easier reading for YOU!

Enjoy!

Season 14 – Episodes 1 and 2

Bubbles

NV Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France $60Champagne is one of the world’s finest pleasures. I find I’m a much happier person with bubbles in hand. This Chardonnay-based sparkling is elegant and full of finesse. Citrus-scented with underlying aromas of freshly-baked bread, the stylish Champagne is supported by a ping of palate-pleasing minerality. It’s a wine to drink now or will benefit from a few years of aging.

If you haven’t heard of this Champagne producer, it’s one to seek out when splurging on sparkling. Palmer & Co has more than 415 hectares of sustainably-grown vineyards with nearly half of those classified as Grands and Premiers Cru from the Montagne de Reims area of Champagne, France. A true classic.

 

2012 Domaine Carneros ‘Jardin D’Hiver’ Ultra Brut Cuvée, Carneros, California $60
When Domaine Carneros (the California outpost of France’s Champagne house Taittinger) added its stunning glass conservatory dubbed the Jardin d’Hiver, one of wine country’s most beautiful properties became even more beautiful. In this Gustave Eiffel-inspired sunroom guests can take in sweeping vineyard views and enjoy a signature ‘Asian bites with bubbles’ pairing. This limited-edition bubbly is an ode to the winery’s prized addition. Made in a bracingly-dry style (called Ultra Brut), it’s crisp, crave-worthy, and classy.

Whites

2017 Kim Crawford ‘Signature Reserve’ Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $25
Popular with Sauv-Savvie Americans, Kim Crawford is a recognized and much-loved brand. (It was actually started by a winemaker named Kim and his wife Erica Crawford, though no longer owned by them.) This bottling, however, is more powerful than its familiar Kim Crawford brethren. It takes Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc to the next level. Intensely fruit-driven with layers of tangy lemon/lime freshness, it also sports full-bodied flair and a mouthwatering finish.

Serve with shellfish and salads, of course, but don’t forget it has enough stuffing to take on roast chicken with mustard sauce or even grilled pork chops with

mango salsa. Highly recommended with a serious “wow” factor.

2017 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Blanc, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley, Oregon $22

When talking about iconic American wine families, the Ponzi family is on my short list. As pioneers of the Oregon wine industry, they have established themselves as leaders in quality and innovation. Though their roster ranges from Chardonnay to Pinot Noir, this wine is a personal favorite of mine. The white grape variety, Pinot Blanc, is known in the Alsace region of France where it gains a nutty richness. But, the Ponzi Pinot Blanc is dripping with succulent fruit notes layered with a ping of alluring minerality. A wine to stock up on for spring and summer sipping.

2017 Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $20
When Kim and Erica Crawford sold their eponymous brand more than a decade ago, they followed their values to create a new wine brand highlighting the best of New Zealand. That’s when the Loveblock Farm captured their hearts. Sure, they still craft Sauvignon Blanc – the variety that made Kim famous – but the Loveblock expression is full-bodied and full of flavor. Forget the green, grassy Savvie of well-known producers, this elegant white is fermented with natural yeasts and a portion aged in neutral oak barrels to add complexity and texture. It’s a wine I love.

Reds

2016 Early Mountain Foothills, Virginia $27I have been impressed by the quality of the wines coming from Virginia for the past few years. After visiting the region to explore its history and plethora of

stunning properties, I believe Virginia ranks among the best places in the country to taste wine. And it’s not just me. The Early Mountain winery—located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains—was even voted the best winery tasting room nationwide in 2016, according to a USA Today Reader’s Choice poll.

This supple blend of mostly Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and a smattering of other grapes, is succulently juicy with dark berry notes. It’s easy to indulge in with all that forward fruit, but the red blend is supported by bright acidity and a lush mouthfeel. A wine to unscrew and enjoy while unwinding after a long day’s work.

2014 Cecchi ‘Riserva di Famiglia’ Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Italy $75 magnum ($38 standard bottle size)
The Cecchi family’s winemaking history dates to 1893. Located in the bucolic area of Chianti in Tuscany, they are known for producing reds of intensity and structure. Their Chianti Classico Riserva di Famiglia is a special bottling produced only in years where quality is high. This is a beauty. A medium-full bodied red from Sangiovese that teases with dark berry fruit aromas peppered with earthy notes, it’s supple on the palate, finishing with brightness and balanced tannins. Though it drinks well now with grilled steaks and toothy pasta dishes, it’s an age-worthy red to impress.

Spirits

Roku Japanese Craft Gin, Japan $40I’m going out on a limb here, but this is my favorite gin. Period. I buy multiple bottles of it at a time because I drink it so quickly…it’s just that delicious. Hailing from Japan (watch out Japanese whiskey!), it is the most subtle yet flavorful smooth gin I’ve ever sipped. With botanicals of sencha green tea, Yuzu peel, Sakura flower and more, the aromas and flavors are delicate and unique.

Pour a taste by itself to get a sense of the gin’s dry finish and silky texture. Splash Roku with top-notch tonic and a peel of yuzu or tangerine for the perfect G & T. See if it doesn’t land on your favorite list, too.

Dingle Single Malt Irish Whiskey Batch NO.3, Ireland $85
Whiskey lovers unite behind Dingle. A classic brown spirit, it packs a power punch wrapped in sultry smoothness. The Batch No. 3 is a blend of individually-aged casks, which have previously held both Bourbon and Port. This unique combination kicks up the dark spice and citrus aromas and then follows them with sweet, brown-sugary richness. Each sip is like decadent dessert in a glass. Only a limited number of bottles where produced, so if you can’t find this one, try one of the other Dingle bottlings and prepare for pleasure.

Stay tuned for more!

Raising a Glass for Kathie Lee :: The Today Show

For years I have enjoyed working with the inimitable Kathie Lee Gifford. We have had so much fun tasting and pairing wines through the years and she will be sorely missed. In honor of her time at the Today Show, Ray Isle and I toasted her with 6 wines fit for a legend.

 

One: Wonder Women of Wine 

Since Kathie Lee is a female vintner herself, we chose two wines not only made by women, but also honor women in their name and labels.

Ray: 2018 Mas de la Dame “La Gourmande” Rosé Provence, France $19 

A charming medieval village in Provence is home to the Mas de la Dame Estate, which translates to “the farm of the lady,” a nod to owners Anne Poniatowski and Caroline Missoffe, the dynamic female duo behind this winery. The crisp, berry-scented La Gourmand Rosé is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and 10% Cinsault, all grown organically.

 

Leslie: 2017 Bodegas Septima “Obra” Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina $20

Winemaker, Paula Andrea Borgo, helms the stunning property in Argentina set in the backdrop of the Andes Mountains. Meaning the “seventh” winery of a Spanish wine company, Bodegas Septima focuses on vibrant, intense wines. This Malbec is smooth yet refreshing. The label showcases an angel who — after toiling to create the beautiful wine — is peacefully at rest.

 

Two: SB for Kathie Lee?

Leslie and Ray aim to convince Kathie Lee that she really DOES love Sauvignon Blanc with these two affordable bottles. One is Old World and the other, a New World surprise.

Leslie: 2017  La Petite Perriere Sauvignon Blanc, France $10 

When it comes to value, this white tops my list for zesty yet layered Sauvignon Blanc. It is a wine to buy by the case. Created by the Saget family who is lauded in Sancerre for their classic La Perriere bottling, this is a juicy, crowd-pleasing sipper to pair with fish, salads and grilled vegetables.

Ray: 2017 Beyond Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa $10  

An extraordinary steal at $10, this citrusy, elegant white will convince even a Sauvignon-skeptic of its deliciousness. South African Sauvignons tend to walk a line between the fruitiness of California versions and the grassy, peppery notes of New Zealand, and this one is no exception.

 

Three: Legends in a glass 

These two wines rank at the top of world-class Chardonnays. Wines made from the classic white grape are among Kathie Lee’s favorites.

 

Leslie: 2016 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California $58 

When it comes to wine legends, Chateau Montelena hits the pinnacle of fame. The historic Calistoga property helped put California wine on the world wine map when it bested French Chardonnay in the famed 1976 Paris Tasting. A complex and elegant white built to enjoy now or age for up to a decade.

 

Ray: 2016 Gaja Gaia & Rey Chardonnay, Langhe, Italy $175

One of the great Chardonnays of the world, Gaia & Rey is the handiwork of legendary Piedmontese vintner Angelo Gaja, and named after his daughter Gaia Gaja. Admittedly, it’s extremely expensive, but its layers of citrus, melon, toast and minerals speak to its excellence—plus we hear it’s Kathie Lee’s favorite wine in the world, and who can argue with that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch the Video from the Today Show!

Wine Lovers River Cruise with AMA Waterways

Exciting news everyone!

Set sail with me in ultimate luxury aboard AmaWaterways’ newest state-of-the-art ship, AmaMagna, a magnificent river cruise ship offering large staterooms equivalent in size to many ocean-going vessels and almost twice the width of traditional European river ships.

Journey along the Danube and see firsthand why this storied river has inspired generations of artists, poets and musicians. Indulge your passion for timeless architecture and art in four magnificent capitals: Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna and Prague. Let the hills come alive with the sounds of music in Salzburg and the Austrian Lake District. Cruise through the enchanting Strudengau Valley and let the melodies of the Danube carry you from one gem to another on a regal journey through time.

This special itinerary offers guests a perfect blend of wine-related experiences and excursions in grand capitals and charming towns. You’ll taste local cuisine, discover how wine is made and, of course, partake in tastings — all at no additional cost.
Whether you have a seasoned appreciation for fine wine, or simply indulge in a sip here and there, this is a wonderful way to uncork the traditions of the local culture and learn about the region you’re visiting.

Special features that are ONLY included on wine cruises:

Special tours and tasting at local wineries and private cellars

Learn about winemaking in renowned vineyards

Onboard wine pairings with award-winning cuisine

Tastings and classes led by ME!

 


Get your reservations now!

Early purchase for this Voyage is currently discounted at $750 per person off the regular price for anyone booking this trip by March 31st!

For more information and to receive the discount, book directly through my AmaWaterways page 

Or you can call (800) 380-3865 or email me at [email protected]

I can’t wait to travel with you!

holiday Gift Guide - leslie Sbrocco

Holiday Gift Guide 2018

It’s the heart of the holiday season and if you’re still looking for gifts or bottles to pour at parties to ring in 2019, here are some of my favorites from a year of tasting and traveling.

Cheers!

 

Affordable Party Wines

cashmere red wine particular carinena pizzolato fields prosecco

2016 Bodegas San Valero ‘Particular’ Cariñena, Spain $10

Not only is Cariñena one of Spain’s best value wine regions, it’s also the name of a grape variety. This spicy red is ideal for pairing with just about any food. Buy it by the case.

Pizzolato Fields Prosecco DOC, Treviso, Italy $10

Made with organically-grown Glera grapes, this is a bargain for bubbly drinkers.

2016 Cashmere Red Wine, California $15

From Sonoma’s Cline family comes a crowd-pleasing blend of red Rhone varieties. With a splash of holiday color, the packaging is stylish for gift-giving, too.

 

Splurge-Worthy Bubbly

 

domaine palmer & co

 

Palmer & Co Brut Reserve Champagne, France $60

If you love sparkling wine as much as I do, Palmer is a worthy discovery. Its class and complexity are apparent in every sip of this glorious Champagne.

Domaine Carneros ‘Jardin d’Hiver’ Ultra Brut, Carneros, California $59

The New World outpost of Champagne superstar, Taittinger, Domaine Carneros crafts bubbles that rank among the best in the world. This limited-edition sparkling is a treat for any time of the year.

 

Impress for Less than $25

 

 

J California Cuvée, California $25

A beautiful bubbly to span the seasons, the J is crisp and juicy. Ideal by itself to indulge before dinner, it’s layered and structured enough to pour throughout a meal.

2017 Susana Balbo ‘Brioso’, Valle de Uco-Mendoza, Argentina $24

Lush and full with a kiss of oak, this blend of Semillón, Torrontés and Sauvignon Blanc is a statuesque white that is imposing yet alluring.

2010 LAN Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain $24

There is no better value in the red wine world than Gran Reserva Rioja. With years of aging, this smooth red is worth twice the price.

 

Diamonds of Napa Valley

 

groth

 

2015 Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California $85

This vibrantly supple wine offers chance to see why Spottswoode is one of Napa Valley’s classic stars and one of its iconic wine producers.

2016 Shafer Vineyards TD-9, Napa Valley, California $60

In an ode to the history of the famed winery, this lush blend is named for the TD-9 tractor John Shafer used when he started the iconic property in the 1970s. If you really want to splurge pick up a bottle of their Hillside Select ($295). It’s is one of my choices ‘Best Cabernet Sauvignon in the World’ status.

Listen to my podcast with Doug Shafer to find out more about their history (and mine).

2015 Groth’Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California $150

If I scored wine, this one would deserve a perfect 100 points. It has everything a world-class Cabernet should have – structure, dark-fruited intensity, cellar worthiness, and impeccable balance. Love.

Special Spirits

Pierre Ferrand ‘Ambré’ Premier Cru Cognac, France $80

As one of Cognac’s most celebrated producers, this silky, medium-bodied, aromatic version from Pierre Ferrand is an ideal way to begin exploring the beauty of Cognac.

Suntory Hibiki Whisky, Limited-Edition Bottle, Japan $115 

In my opinion, Hibiki is the pinnacle of Japanese whisky with its elegance and style. This stunning Limited-Edition bottle is a piece of art. Drink the whisky then save the bottle.

El Tesoro Añejo Tequila, Mexico $55 

I just returned from a visit to El Tesoro. What an amazing spot to see. Using traditional methods to craft tequila from the Jalisco Highlands, this creamy, vanilla-scented spirit with a touch of herbal freshness is aged in bourbon barrels for up to three years. Indulge yourself…you’re worth it.

Gift Sets

 

Have you ever tried wines from Virginia? You should. A historic wine region with a modern twist, it’s an emerging hot spot with wines that are garnering attention. One of the producers to look for is Early Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a winery to watch.

2016 Early Mountain Vineyards, ‘Foothills’ blend, Virginia $27 

A supple red blend led by Merlot and Petit Verdot with a mélange of other varieties including the white grape, Petit Manseng. Delicious.

2017 Early Mountain Vineyards, Rosé, Virginia $25 

As a pink wine fan, I’m always on the hunt for swoon-worthy versions and found one in this delectable sipper. It’s like a ray of sunshine – drinking a glass just puts a smile on your face.

*****

“Eat Chocolate, Drink Wine”, Cliff Family Winery $75

This delectable bundle includes a bottle of the 2016 Gary’s Improv Zinfandel, as well as three tins of Cliff Family dark chocolate goodies. Let me tell you…the chocolate-covered Toffee Pistachios are fabulous (and I’m pretty sure they’re very good for you).

*****

The category of Cider is growing. The best versions are succulent, racy and complex. Eden Specialty Ciders from Vermont is creating excitement with their wide range of sips. Working with heritage apple varieties, their high-quality ciders even include a Rosé style. Sign me up.

Eden Heirloom Blend Ice Cider $25

Eden’s Heirloom Ice Cider takes up to three years to produce and you can taste the care that goes into this decadently delicious drink.

Eden Dry Sparkling Heritage Cider, Extra Sec $15

As a lover of all things bubbly, this sparkling Cider won my heart. It’s tangy and dry with a juicy kick. A wonderful way to begin your Cider journey.

 

Stocking Stuffers and More!

 

 

Traveling Vineyards ‘Three Hearts’ Rosé, Pays d’Oc, France $19

The result of my partnership with Traveling Vineyard is a dry pink wine named for the special relationship I share with my mom and daughter. Who are your three hearts? Share a bottle with them this season!

Repour Winesaver $9 

This wine preserver is easy to use and effective. It’s a must-have for any wine drinker.

Wine Nots $10

Who wants wine stains on their teeth? You don’t need to worry about that with stocking-stuffer worthy Wine Nots.

Marin Cheese Company, Baked Brie en Croute $15

When I tasted this creamy round of deliciousness, I was ready to eat the whole thing myself! You will too.

 

Boozy Books

Last but not least, if you want to read about wine as WELL as drink it, try these two awesome reads.

Image result for ten grapes to know

 

Image result for wine folly magnum

 

 

Get Your Boo-ze On with these Halloween Wine Picks

It’s Halloween so let’s get our BOO-ze on!!

 

D.I.P – 2014 Drink in Peace Merlot – Flora Springs, Napa Valley $130

Flora Springs is known for their spectacular Halloween-themed wines and this year’s Drink in Peace does not disappoint. Housed in a spooky casket, this darkly saturated, plum-colored Merlot from Rutherford offers a black currant and raspberry-scented nose and a palate dominated by rich black cherry fruit, spicy oak, toasty vanilla and cedary smoke.  This is a full-bodied, seamlessly styled Merlot that will drink well for the next 10-15 years.

 

2016 Ghost Winery Malbec, Flora Springs, Napa Valley $60

 Flora Springs has the distinction of being home to one of Napa Valley’s original “ghost wineries” – wineries built between 1860 and 1900 but abandoned in the early 20th century due to the triple threat of the vine disease phylloxera, the Great Depression, and of course Prohibition.

This Malbec offers a cauldron of forward black cherry, blackberry and blueberry along with spellbinding notes of leather, coffee and tobacco. A trickster’s treat for Halloween!

 

2015 LVE Red – Legend Vineyard Exclusive, Napa Valley $50

The LVE Red Blend has rich aromas of Santa Rosa plum, Bing cherry and a hint of pepper. The harmonious blend of weighty tannins with the a fruity suppleness creates a complete wine with length and persistence on the palate. Notes of cocoa nibs and coffee accent the finish on this dark and mysterious Halloween pick.

 

 

2015 Rabble Red Wine, Rabble Wine Company, Paso Robles $16

 “We cannot command nature except by obeying her.” This red blend is a blend of carefully sourced grapes from the wine region of Paso Robles, CA and is truly a terrifying tempest.

 

2017 Casillero del Diablo – Red Blend – Concha Y Toro, Chile $10

 Concha y Toro presents another date with the devil for Halloween this year, with their 2017 Red Blend. This wine has a velvety smooth and balanced texture, highlighting mild tannins with hints of toast and spice, followed by a satisfying finish.

 

2013 Alba de Domus, Miapo Valley, Chile $20

This Chilean blend offers chocolate and orange zest, underscored with leather and balsamic hints to create a spookily delicious finish.

 

Brut Sparkling Wine, Dark Horse, CA $13

 It’s not a Halloween party with a bottle of bubbles. These are deliciously dry with citrus undertones, yet are housed in a dark and mysterious bottle. A perfect toast on a dark and stormy Halloween night.

 

2017 9 Lives Reserve Sauvignon Blanc , San Pedro, Chile $10

 El Gato Negro -the black cat- has prowled the vineyards of Viña San Pedro for years. In homage, the winemakers toasted the mysterious feline with their 9 Lives Reserve Blend, a bright and citrusy Sauvignon Blanc that is frighteningly well-balanced.

 

2017 Pinot Grigio, Ecco Domani, Italy $10 

Dressed up for Halloween in robber’s stripes, Alice + Olivia have designed the signature spooky look for the 2017 Pinot Grigio bottle. The exotic fruit notes and lush tropical nature of the wine make this wine an absolute crime if you miss it.

 

2017 Pam’s Un-Oaked Chardonnay, Ron Rubin Winery, CA

 Another bottle dressed up for Halloween hides away inside a refreshingly fruity and light-bodied chardonnay, with a beautifully transparent, pale yellow color. It has showy fruit aromas of Asian pear and Golden Delicious apple; and, ripe citrus, like key lime and tangerine. Grab a bottle!

 

Never tricks and always treats, my wine picks will have you celebrating a truly spooky Halloween night!