People travel to Vegas to gamble, see a show, eat amazing food, and indulge. They don’t go to Vegas to drink wine. I didn’t see one cool, modern, well-stocked wine bar, yet Vegas has twice as many Master Sommeliers as New York City. Vegas is a mix of high-rollers willing to spend $2,000 on a bottle of 1996 Krug and the average consumer, looking for a familiar glass of wine with mass appeal. I actually heard someone at Bardot Brasserie in the Aria say they had never had a glass of rosé. Very sad considering they offer bottomless glasses of Provence rosé for $20 during brunch.
For a wine geek like me, I set out with one idea for the weekend— to drink some amazing wine. The most obvious choice is Aureole at Mandalay Bay. Unfortunately, it was closed the day we went there. We only had the chance to peer down at the giant four story wine tower. My secret fantasy (well, not so secret anymore…) is to be a wine angel for a night. These ladies, clad in black catsuits, zip up and down the tower to retrieve wine for bottle service. Hey Aureole, I’m ready to head back to Vegas anytime for the chance! seriously. call me.
I decided to trust the sommeliers in town and headed to the bar at Le Cirque. The original Le Cirque is a New York institution for over 40 years, demonstrating the best of fine dining service and french cuisine. Tucked into a corner of the Bellagio, Le Cirque is an escape from the casino floor, with a formal yet inviting bar and elegant dinner room. I was on the hunt for the perfect examples of premium French wine. Hubby and I chose to compare two distinct regions of France – Burgundy and Southern Rhone Valley.
The two strings Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Brûlées Domaine Gille was a gorgeous example of a classic Pinot Noir, with notes of strawberry and red currents balanced with hints of savory mushroom, spice and a touch of oak. Hand-harvested, the Pinot Noir matured for 18 months in oak barrels (30% new). We also sampled a glass of the two strings Jean-Luc Colombo 2013 Les Bartavelles Chateauneuf du Pape, with notes of herbs and green pepper balanced with dried red cherry, red plum and licorice. This classic blend of 30% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 30% Mourvèdre spends 18 months in a mix of new and used barrels. Comparing these two is kind of like comparing Elvis and Frank Sinatra—each has their own distinct brand of Vegas swagger.
The best part of our adventure was meeting Le Cirque’s Sommelier, Frederic Montandon, a native of Beaune, France. Frederic and the entire staff were very warm and welcoming, turning a stop at the bar into an impromptu wine class. I can’t wait to go back for a complete French wine and food tasting experience.
Other highlights of our trip included: drinks at Skyfall Lounge at Mandalay Bay with the most amazing view of the strip (cover photo); a coravined glass of the three strings 2012 Camp Meeting Ridge Flowers Chardonnay (seriously beautiful citrus sea breeze flavor with noted minerality and a touch of cream balanced with healthy acidity), paired with Kusshi oysters at Stripsteak; and a visit to the nostalgic Neon Museum in downtown Vegas. All in all, I managed to make my Vegas weekend a fine wine weekend. Success.