Great Sommeliers in the Tahoe Area: Christian O'Kuinghttons, Bistro Napa, Atlantis Casino Resort, Reno

Looking for a special gift?  How about a dinner with wine at the Bistro Napa fine dining restaurant in the Atlantis Casino Resort Hotel in Reno.    I’ve had the pleasure of dining in Bistro Napa a few times, and the experience of service is like a well-choreographed ballet.  

Christian O'Kuinghttons,
Bistro Napa, Atlantis
Resort Casino, Reno NV
Christian O'Kuinghttons is the brilliant sommelier there.  Following is some insight to his wine philosophy.

“In the evolution of the American palate for wine styles, we are moving from simplicity to complexity,” he said, and what’s going on in the American wine scene now is being guided by this generation of millennials.  “They are looking for a depth of characteristics.  They like a fruity wine with a long finish, and have a “more the merrier” attitude about flavor and aroma in a wine.”

Since 1996, Christian has been developing the impressive wine list.  “That work has been like a ladder reaching up and up, and that is consistent with my temperament as I reach toward a joyful wine experience,” he said.  “Our wine program receives awards all the time.   We believe in 8 ounce pours, so that two glasses of different wines are generally sufficient to take a diner through a great wine experience with his meal. “

The four wines
Christian searches for wines that come from small producers of beautiful grapes.  “I meet winemakers and walk their vineyards.  The winery that produces between 150 and 300 cases is of most interest to me,” he said.  We tasted four such wines.

Evolution White, from Oregon, vintage 2011-2012. This is a blend of 9 different grapes: Pinot Grigio, White Riesling, Muscat, Gewurtztraminer, Muller-Thurgau, Semillon, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner and Chardonnay.  It has a lush tropical yet crisp finish, and some flintiness.  Taste is of dried fruits, like apricot.  12 percent alcohol.  $15/glass.

Four Graces, Willamette Valley, 2011 Pinot Blanc    “This is a misunderstood wine,” Christian said. “ It is a bridge between Sauvignon Blanc and an oaked Chardonnay.”  13.3 percent alcohol.    $14/glass

Christian pours CMS
CMS 2009 from Hedges, Columbia Valley, Washington.   This 2009 red blend is 39% Cabernet, 45% Merlot and 15% Syrah.  “So much fun!” he said. 13.5 percent alcohol.   $12/glass, $34/bottle.

Stratton Lummis, The Riddler Lot 3, a Napa Valley Red Wine.  It has a Tempranillo base (Sierra Foothills fruit), some Zinfandel, some Petite Syrah.   The blend changes every year.  The flavor and aroma is of dark fruit.  15.2 percent alcohol .  $15/glass.   “This is an excellent wine to demonstrate the 21st Century palate,” says Christian.
Stratton Lummis

The Atlantis Casino Resort Hotel is located at 3800 S. Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89502.  Telephone (775) 824-4430.

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