a

akmike's Profile

Title Last Reply

Is it just me or is it rather difficult to find good steak in the Bay Area?

I grew up on a cattle ranch. All free range way before "free range" was trendy. We ate a lot of beef. So anyway, I had one of the best steaks I've ever had last fall at, cough.... Morimoto's in Napa. I was with a group of friends. All of us has fish entries and sushi, but one decided to try the rib eye. I asked her why on earth she was ordering a steak at a sushi / fish joint, and she said she just felt like eating a steak. I tried a bite and could not believe how good it was. Oddly enough, the fish entries we had were not all that great. The sushi appetizers were excellent. But that steak was amazing. (We all share our meals when we travel together).

Apr 14, 2013
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Looking for a stainless steel cookware recommendation

I just went through this myself..... Ended up with some DeBuyer Affinity 7 ply SS cookware. I've been pleased with it so far. It is not the easiest to clean though. Polished SS shows every little water spot, scratch, nick, etc... Doesn't matter much if you hide your pans away, but mine hangs above the cooktop. Amazon has pretty good prices on the stuff with free shipping. Worth a look anyway. http://www.debuyer.com/product.php?id...

Jan 06, 2013
akmike in Cookware

Pairing with Pizza

I rather like drinking zin with any food that has a tomato based sauce. Some friends and I sort of stumbled onto that pairing combination one night with an abnormally hot (high alcohol) zin. It was not good at all on its own, but with some fresh tomato slices, it was fantastic.

Jan 04, 2013
akmike in Wine

Why are most California red wines not delicious or food-friendly?

Hi Robert -

I'm trying to understand your comments a bit better. Are you generalizing all Cali reds, or Napa? If you meant Napa, I tend to agree with your assessment, however I do find and buy numerous reds that I find delicious. They are not my first choice when pairing with food though, like you, I tend to prefer a red from the other side of the pond with food. But, I don't like to drink them casually without food as much as I do reds from Napa - well other than a good Bourdeaux anyway. But I can't afford Bourdeaux the past three / four years anyway.

I also find myself avoiding anything that Parker gives a high score to as well, with the exception to port that is. I do pay attention to Tanzer though.

At any rate, I have pretty much given up on finding a Napa Cab Sav under $50 that I enjoy enough to buy. They are getting harder to find each year. Have you tried many Paso wines?

I rather enjoy the creative GSM type blends from that area and the price point is reasonable. Adelaida has several good reds (as well as whites), that are reasonably priced that go well with food.

Jan 04, 2013
akmike in Wine

Schramsberg Sparking recs?

Possibly, what temp do you drink them at? I have a 50 bottle cooler that I use for my non-chard whites and rose's. I keep the temp at 46 deg F on this cooler. All other wines go to the cellar and I keep that set to 55 deg F.

But I don't think we drink sparkling wines too cold. We do not keep the bottle in a iced container or anything, we just pull it out of the cooler, open and drink. Also, when we tasted at Mumms, the temp was whatever they poured them at and it took a good hour to get through them all (five of us got different flights and shared).

I dunno, when I drink them, they are generally dry or sweet with a lot of bubbles itching my nose.... The Schramsberg on the other hand just had a great pallet to me.

Jan 04, 2013
akmike in Wine

Schramsberg Sparking recs?

6 of each ordered, thank you.

Jan 03, 2013
akmike in Wine

Schramsberg Sparking recs?

Yes, I plan to buy 12 bottles. I figured it couldn't hurt to ask folks who have had Schramsberg this particular question. I really do not, generally speaking, like sparkling wine. I tried every bottle at Mumms, did not like any of them, tried Crystal, didn't do anything for me, Dom, same thing. M&R Asti is way too sweat, yuck.

I was very surprised to find myself enjoying the Blanc de Blancs. I could just buy 12 bottles of it, but figured I try a couple of their other bottles, if others on this sight think I might enjoy them (based on my enjoyment of the BdB).

I'm not really sure what it is about that bottle that I like so much either. It seamed to have just enough sweetness, but not too much, good flavor (I usually can't really taste the grape when drinking sparkling wine).

Jan 03, 2013
akmike in Wine

Schramsberg Sparking recs?

Hi there..

I am not a fan of sparking wine or champagne. I have always said that I do not discriminate against wine and I enjoy it all, but the bubbly stuff just never did anything for me.

So last November I spent a week in Napa and there were three occasions when the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs was served during pairings. I really liked it! One in particular that was quite memorable was at a wine paring demonstration with Andrea Robinson and her husband. They paired it with air popped popcorn sprinkled lightly with truffle salt.

Time restraints kept us from visiting the winery and trying their other wines.

I was just surfing their web sight and see they have several different bottles. Seeing how I liked the Blanc de Blancs so much, would anyone who has had their wines recommend other bottles from this winery? Shipping is a killer to where I live (Alaska), so I usually just get a case of 12.

Jan 02, 2013
akmike in Wine

Where do locals go for dinner in Napa? Looking for one more place to eat....

That input does help! I was hoping you'd chip in as I appreciate your input and enjoy reading your posts on this board. I'm beginning to think that I owe you and miss Maria a drink for all the help you've given me.

One of the guy's in the group said he's always wanted to try Redd, so I went ahead and made reservations there. Hopefully the planets align and we can grab a lunch at Grace's and a couple of your other recommendations.

Nov 09, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Where do locals go for dinner in Napa? Looking for one more place to eat....

After all the input I've already gotten from some of you, I'm almost hesitant to ask for more....lol

I had figured to just wing it on Sunday, Nov 18th, and find somewhere downtown Napa using the "walk around and find somewhere that smells good technique", but I'm finding that the better restaurants fill up fast.

I think somewhere in the valley that is casual and friendly, but not too casual (brew pub noisy casual), but yet not too stuffy either where jeans are frowned on, and a dinner jacket is required. Something reasonably priced at around 40 per plate max (plus wine of course).

We already have reservations booked for our seven night visit in the area at: The Farm at Carnaros, Morimoto's, JoLe, Brunch at Auberge du Soleil and three dinners at the CIA with celebrity chefs cooking during the Flavor Napa event. So, we just need one more place to go.

I was told that Grace's Table is a local's favorite. Then I heard that Bistro DonGiovanni and Redd are also quite good and places that local's go. Out of these three, what do you think? or, is there somewhere else we should go? We have pretty eclectic pallets for food, so anything goes as long as it's good.

.....mike

Nov 08, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

Thank you for the very informative post Maria! I have already decided to make my next trip to Napa one where I can spend a couple solid days on Diamond Mnt. I need to spend time in Sonoma too....

Our Sunday is completely free, other than a brunch at Auburge. I will call some of the wineries you mention to see if they are pouring Sunday. If not, Sunday might just turn into a few rounds of golf. lol...

Oct 31, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

Graysea –

Carrie and Moria can most likely give you better advise than I, but I’ll offer you my thoughts on the places on your list that I have first hand experience with…..(many on your list I have not had)

Alpha Omega – I have not tried this wine.
Hall – OK, but not on my short list.
Truchard- Joanne Truchard – I have not had this wine.
Domaine Chandon – I have not had this wine.
Vincent Arroyo – If you like very earthy, old world wine making, you’ll like this wine. I love his Petite Sarah’s, the Rattlesnake vineyard PS in particular.
August Briggs – I have not had this wine.

*Terra Valentine – Not a big fan of this wine. Had their cab and thought it was over extracted. Have not had another since.
*Paloma – Paloma makes one of my favorite Merlot’s. I do not like their Syrah much…. My favorite merlot is Hartwell, but I don’t much care for the price.
Keenan – I know a lot of people love their wine, but it just isn’t anything special to me. I walk right by it without a second thought… Not bad juice, just nothing unique or good enough for me to buy it again.
Pride – I have mixed feelings about Pride. They do make good wine, but nothing spectacular. Their reserve cab is quite good, but not worth the trouble or price (you have to get on the mailing list to buy it). I think their merlot and cab franc are pretty good, and they also make a white desert wine that I liked quite a bit (forgot what it was).

Reverie Vineyard and Winery - I have not tried this wine.
Diamond Creek Winery - I have not tried this wine.
Von Strasser Winery – I have not tried this wine.
The Diamond Mnt area is an area that I have not spent any time at. After researching several Diamond Mnt wineries, I became fascinated with Mayacamas. Old school wine making techniques always intriges me.

Black Sears – Have not tried this wine.
Outpost Wines – Love their wine. Nice people, great view.
Neal Family Vineyards – Not a big fan. Good, just not great.

My favorite Howell Mnt wineries are Lamborn, O’Shaughnesey and Outpost. Dun is good, but I have to be in the right kind of mood to drink their wine, and preferably one that is about 15 years old or better.

Oct 31, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

Carrie / Moria –

The Flavor event, as far as I understand, is on its second year. I do not think it is part of the conference. You can check it out here…. http://flavornapavalley.com/

Regardless, I understand what you are saying. My group will be in Napa for seven days. Three of those days are booked with several different events / classes and cooking demonstrations. Our winery visits are set up on non-event days, with the exception of one day that we do not need to be at CIA prior to 3PM.

Oct 31, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

You don't have much time to spare if you are going to the events on Sat and leaving Sun. Due to the driving time to Sonoma, I'd just hang in Napa and hit a couple wineries there if you have time. Sunday is a bit tough, as many of the places I enjoy take Sunday off. I'm pretty sure that Erna Shcein pours Sunday, but you better call and sched quick. Be advised though....the "tasting room" at ES is a small travel trailer. You don't have a view. The view is however just a few steps away from the trailer. Also, their prices have gone up quite a bit since I bought juice from them a couple years ago, which is a bit disappointing - but inevitable I suppose...

I called around quite a bit, after getting feedback from those kind enough to offer advice on this thread, and ended up getting only one appointment based on my goals noted earlier, and that is at Mayacamas. I'm looking forward to that. I also set some up at wineries on spring mnt and Howell mnt, which I was trying to NOT do.. LOL... In the end, it was a time thing. And, a couple of my friends have not been the valley before, so I'm giving them a taste of several areas.

Appointments set up:
Mayacamas
Newton
Smith Madrone
O'Shaughessey
Faila
Fisher
Peter Michael
Donelan

So what events are you going to anyway?? Have you done the Flavor thing before? It's a first for us, so I'm apprehensively excited...

Oct 30, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

San Fran/Napa in April 2013

V2V is April 26-28. I go with a group of friends from time to time. Might be worth looking into, to see if that is something you'd like to go to. You essentially pay for a day pass to visit and taste several Stags Leap District wineries. There is usually a pretty good dinner with copious amounts of great wine to drink as well. It's not for everyone....

Oct 07, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

"For something small, laid back...

Not far from where you will be staying is Farella Vineyard in the new Coombsville AVA. You can probably meet with Tom, give him a call. With solid well-priced reds ($75 and under), tranquil and charming setting, Farella will not disappoint.
"

Thank you for that idea. Not hillside, but I have them on never ending list of places to go to.....

I mean that too. I keep a running list so that when I'm buzzing around the area on one of my wine sabbaticals, I have a list of places to see, verse waste time on other wineries.

Sep 25, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

whoops... wrong post.

Sep 25, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

I echo Ceekskat..... I am new to this sight, but look foward to reading your comments.

Sep 25, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

Ya I know.... tall order. But I know that everyone has there favorites, so I didn't think it would hurt to ask.

CarrieWas gave me a couple good recs. Not sure if I can get an appointment, but I'm interested enough to make contact with them. I may just order some juice from them regardless.

I did not realize there was a Diamond Mountain AVA. I think that area deserves a day or two all on it's own.

Sep 25, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

Well as intrigued as I am about Kenzo, I will not be going there. Too much money for the wine. Kapscandy did the same thing.... 180 per bottle the first couple years, then they get a killer Parker score, now what are they, 400??? Rudd jumped from 125 to 185 in one year... I just got an offer for Derenoncourt, looks like they've double their price too.

I'm sticking the smaller wineries that do not cater to fame and glory and think they can charge first growth prices.

Sep 25, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

Constant Diamond sounds right up my alley, but they state that visits are for "members only". This sounds like the typical catch 22.... You have to be a member or on a mailing list to taste the wine, but unless you've had it before, it's a leap of faith to become a member and order the wine to taste it.

Sep 23, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

Goldang -

Kenzo has me intrigued. $80 for a tasting and lunch from Bouchon, temping. Have you had this? Also, I do not see any reference to the price of their wines, mailing list only. Any idea what they range??

Sep 23, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

I've been to Altamura, like their wine.

I have several bottles of Chappellet that Rick sold me last time I was at Groezingers, but have not tried any yet! I better pop one open!

White Rock is one of my favorites list above, love their juice!

I have not heard of the remaining you listed and will check them out, thank you!!

Sep 22, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

We will be spending five days in Napa, attending a few events at CIA this time. I have a few blocks of time where we could swing by a few wineries.

I know what I am looking to find (in the price bracket) may be unlikely, but figured it couldn't hurt to ask??? Take Lewelling for example, they could easily sell their wine for over $100 per bottle, but they have continued to hold their price much lower.

What about Montagna? I just stumbled onto this one and most of their wine is at about the price point I'm looking for. They have some bottles for much more, but most are lower.

Santa Cruz.....I have not been there before. I'll have to look into that area for another trip. We also travel to Washington and Oregon..... So many places to go wine hunting, so little time...

Sep 22, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

Kind of a weird request, but I am looking for a specific type of winery/wineries to visit this November. I have not been to all the wineries on Spring or Howell Mnt, but several. I’d rather spend a day at each mountain, sometime in the future, but not this trip. I’ve also been to the majority of wineries on the floor and all of the Stag’s Leap district wineries (we go to V2V often). I’m basically looking for new places to visit that have hill side fruit, that are smaller - off the radar, not overly priced wineries that have been what I call “Parkerized”, and just downright good juice. I also like the more intimate visits where you can relax, visit with the owners or wine makers and casually taste their wines without the pressure of crowds or feel like part of the heard. I’m not afraid to spend upwards of $200 for a bottle of wine, but would prefer to find a winery or two with wines in the $20 - $60 range. For consistency reasons, I do prefer wineries that grow their own fruit. I buy way more “offer / allotment” type wines in the + $60 range than my salary should support already, and don’t need or want any more.

I really don’t have a favorite varietal, country or region. I like just about all wine, but maybe not bubbly’s too much. I’ll just list what I don’t like. I do not like wine that has been over oak’ed, and is over extracted jammy swill that is so common nowadays. I like a bit of dirt mixed with fruit. Not too much of either, just a hint of both, but I don’t like to have to dig too much to smell it either. I also don’t like wine that is over the top with tannins and you feel like the moisture has been sucked out of your teeth when you drink it, or wine that’s hot with too much alcohol. I don’t pay a great deal of attention to scores, especially Parker or WE. Out of all the critics, I probably look to Tanzer more than the others. My caller is very eclectic, to say the least.

Some of my favorite Cali wines are (in no particular order): Lamborn cab, Peter Michael (all of them really, but not their price), O’Shaughnessy cab, Lewelling, David Arthur 1147, Matriarch, Faila pinot, W/S pinot, Donelan Family Syrah, Turley P/S, Mary Edwards Sav Blanc, Malk Sav Blanc, Hartwell Merlot, Edge Hill Mixed Blacks, White Rock, Outpost P/S, Ridge Monte Bello, Far Niente Dolce, Tresspass Cab Franc, Booker, Philip Togni, Flora Springs Wild Boar, Jeriko Canyon. I buy Turley, and am quite saturated with their zins, so I really don’t need any more zin (and no, I do not enjoy ALL of their zins).

Sep 22, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Best winery for a picnic on Spring mountain, that's not Pride?

When I was at Erna Schein, they were pouring Relic as well as Behrens and Drinkward. I believe that all these labels are all owned and operated by individual Behrens family members. That was a few years ago, so I'm not sure if they pour each at the same place anymore. Unless they've changed since I was there, the atmosphere was totally laid back and comfortable. This is one of my favorite places in Napa to visit and I need to do so again. The only problem with that, is that there are sooooo many wineries I have not visited yet, it's hard for me to go back to a place I've been before.

Sep 22, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Best winery for a picnic on Spring mountain, that's not Pride?

Wow..... So sorry to hear about that. I supose they have bad days, along with good days. It has probably been three years since my last visit there. When I was there last, our tour / tasting was with the winery manager and very intimate.

In light of this news, the Barens Family sight might be a better option for the OP. But seeing how my info is dated, that might not be a very good place to go either. I'll just shut up now......

Sep 21, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

SF/Napa trip - would love opinions on my restaurant/vineyard choices

Thank you Maria. I will give them a call and see what they may have available when we are there.....

Sep 21, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

Best winery for a picnic on Spring mountain, that's not Pride?

I have taken a box lunch to Barnett before. They have an upper patio that overlooks the valley (fantastic view). They make several good wines under $50. They have a few Pinot's, Chard's, Cabs and I do not recall what else. My favorite's are their Pinot's and Chard's. Not a big fan of their cabs, but I may have just tasted a couple off years. But anyway, definitely give them a call and see if it's OK to set up a tasting and bring your lunch. I've done it twice and they were very open to doing that....

Paloma makes a great Merlot, that's about $50, but I have not actually been to their winery. They make a syrah as well, but I'm not too impressed with it....

Erna Schein makes some really unique wines, most under $50. When I was there last, you also got to taste Behrens and Drinkward Peschon, which are both quite good. Not sure if they do all three at the same place anymore, it's been a couple years since I was there last. I will have to say that if you don't dump, you probably don't want to be driving afterwards. I think we tasted 11 wines when we were there, and they were generous pours.

Pride has some pretty good wine. I like their Cab Franc and Merlot. They also have a really good sweat white (forgot the varietal).

Tresspass, at the base of Spring Mnt, is a great place to get an appnt with. Donnie makes one of my favorite Cab Franc's. His Merlot is very good as well, but that's hard to get, as he doesn't make it all the time.

I have not been to any other wineries on Spr Mnt. I'm sure Maria will add her two cents.

Sep 21, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area

SF/Napa trip - would love opinions on my restaurant/vineyard choices

Maria - I have not been to Hendry's. I have had his block 8 several times and enjoyed it quite a bit. I just did a search and see that he makes several wines. How are the others?? I might just try and squeeze in a tasting there.

Sep 20, 2012
akmike in San Francisco Bay Area