Saturday, May 17, 2008

Keeping it Reno

Sorry I’ve been away for so long, I only barely made it back alive. How does one describe Reno? I guess all the tattoo parlors and laser hair removal billboards do as good a job as I can. To the best of my knowledge, “Keeping it Reno,” involves lots and lots of drinking and confronting moral compromise. I’ve had a blast going back and forth to Reno through the snowboarding season and the cast of characters at the Imperial, Lincoln lounge, and Washoe wines has made me feel like I get local privileges. So a big vlm shout-out to all the Reno crew: Polack Matt, Ryan, Justin, Scotty, Markus, fucking Tilman, and everyone else who has taken me in. Most of all, my boy Dev, long lost brother that he is.

This is maybe the last place you would expect to find a thriving, albeit small, wine culture. It isn’t wine-geeky the way it can be other places, but among the group of friends that I have fallen in with, there is at least a general appreciation of fine wine and plenty of geekiness around the edges.

I managed to stay more or less inebriated for several days, so the following are just wines that stuck out in my mind.

2006 Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas and 2006 Emilio Rojo Ribeiro

The second time in four days that I’ve had these two monsters of Galician wine side by side. To say that I am spoiled rotten is an understatement. As tactile and impressive as the Cepas Vellas is (downright salty), the Rojo is a wine of such tremendous balance and cut that it can astonish. I know I sound like a broken record, but these are probably the two greatest white wines of Spain and among the great wines of the world. They are a bit hard to find, but worth every penny. Everyone should at least try these.

2005 Pépière Muscadet

Went through several bottles of this. Drinking really well right now. Marc Olivier is a fucking genius and he has a posse.

2006 Pépière Clos des Briords and 2005 Pépière Granite de Clisson

Had these two while watching the Imperial Lounge baseball team featuring the Gold brothers on a beautiful summer-ish day. The Granite de Clisson is, for many reasons, more deeply pitched, intense and serious. The Briords is like medicine, a natural anti-depressant. I’ve never drunk this wine and not had it bring a smile to my face. It should become a permanent part of the national pastime. Maybe the Mets would win if they served this at Shea.

1993 Vilmart Coeur de Cuvée

This magnum was a gift from the sublime and imperious Ms. Lee Campbell. In a way, this wine reminds me of her. Peter Leim had an excellent description of this wine and Vilmart in general. Suffice it to say that it married a thrusting, implacable quartzish minerality to a certain bready broadness. It was a wine that made you sit up and take notice and stood out in a crowd of at least 25 open bottles. Even folks who didn’t know shit stopped and said, “Whoa!” So while I’m not entirely sold on this Champagne terroir thing, this wine is excellent and I’m going to try to find some more.

2004 Clape Cornas and 2004 Allemand Cornas Reynard

A bit of controversy here as a couple of folks vociferously advocated for the superiority of the Clape. I didn’t see it. It was marked by lots of smoky, meaty flavors, but that could be more an expression of yeast strain than terroir, especially at this young age. I’m not saying it isn’t good wine, it was very well balanced and I’d be happy to drink it, but the Allemand is so vastly superior in terms of depth, cut, precision, and complexity that in a forced choice, there is no choice. Some people mistake the fruit in Allemand for modernism, but that isn’t the case. There should be an expression of fruit from this terroir, and it is here in spades with a surprising mix of floral and meaty notes underlined by a driving granite-type minerality (anyone know the composition of the site?). A surging young wine that will benefit from years and years of cellaring, but like many young Allemand, is interesting and enjoyable now. My guess is that it will shut down soon, so if you want to see it as a young wine, I would suggest in the next year.

2001 Barthod Chambolle 1er Beaux Bruns

Pristine and excellent. Shows the generous nature of Beaux Bruns, but with Barthods signature precision. 2001 has been an exceptional vintage at Barthod and this wine was another testament to that.


Florida Jim said...

If I'm reading it right, Livingstone-Learmonth says Reynards is a combination of small climats, most of which have a good amount of granite in them. They may also include sand and clay in varying amounts and some decompsed stone.
'Haven't had either of the '04's you tasted.
Best, Jim

Joe said...

My recent '04 Allemand Chaillot was utterly closed. Quite unfriendly.

Lyle Fass said...

"The Briords is like medicine, a natural anti-depressant."

If so it ain't working for me . . .

Lyle Fass said...


I miss you. Can you comment on my blog or is Nathan's just cooler?

Andrew Martin said...

Noticed the note on Ghislaine Barthod's 01 - another case of a wine making nonsense of vintage generalisations.
Opening a 96 les charmes tomorrow night - any idea what we're in for, cork willing that is. It's time my faith in older burg was repaid, otherwise my pinot doubting friends will shake their collective heads and know the windmill always wins.
Come and see us in Australia - i think our stringent quarantine laws don't extend to vulgar monkeys.
cheers - Andrew

Florida Jim said...

I haven't found many 1996 Burgs. to be particularly satisfying or open over the past two years. Good luck with the Barthod.
Best, Jim

the vlm said...


2001 is considered an excellent Cote de Nuits vintage by most Burgundy people I know.

Like Jim, I haven't had much luck with 1996s lately and am beginning to think the vintage could be a lost cause. It may be another 1988 though, a vintage which is really blossoming now. However, of all the 1996 Barthod's, the Charmes and the Beaux Bruns are the most likely to be open.

the vlm said...


Thanks for the info on Allemand's Reynards. That info was floating around in the brain soup somewhere.


Surprised that the Chaillots would be utterly closed, but then again Allemand's 1999 Reynards was closed while Verset 1999 was open...

the vlm said...


Sorry to hear it bro. Briords puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

Lyle Fass said...


The Clonazepan does that for me! And with some Briords..what a trip!