It is not new news that Las Vegas has gone food-and-wine crazy. In the last decade or so, the town has managed to collect in its net the finest chefs, wines and wine talent in the world.
One might assume this is all an effort to offer world-class dining and yet another reason to visit Sin City. This effort has been regarded by some as worthy of applause, by others as hollow and by others still as a curiosity. Until recently I had counted myself among the latter group. So it was with some reservation and much anticipation that I made my way back to Las Vegas last week for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Now, truth be told, there was a quick lunch stop on a road trip, but I had not spent any real time in this fair city since April 1991 when I was there to see the Grateful Dead and Carlos Santana. Needless to say, much time has passed and much change has come to Las Vegas, including the aforementioned culinary revolution.
The purpose of my trip was to introduce my new wines to the market, which generally means 10 or more visits a day and many large and fun meals. So, I wondered, what would it hold, how would Vegas impress, and what would I come away with other than a big sleep deficit? Now home and well-rested, I have to say that the single thing I was most impressed with (other than the finest Thai restaurant on our shores, the Lotus of Siam) was the youthful talent both on the pots and in the cellar.
It seemed that everywhere I went—and it seems as though I went everywhere—there were young people in the kitchen and young people managing the wine. Furthermore, the people serving as my guides in the city were also young and enthusiastic. Now I had heard, as I’m sure many have, the off-hand criticism that these folks are just chasing the money. I don’t see it. What I saw and what I am excited about was a terrific community of dedicated young people chasing their own educations and indulging their curiosity and passion for wine. Pick a roof, any roof: the MGM, Mandalay Bay, the Mirage, Wynn, Caesars, the Bellagio and on and on. Under any of them is arguably one of the most exciting collections of wine enthusiasm and talent around.
We had a fun-filled evening at a soft opening for the new Trump restaurant, DJT. I expect that chef Joseph Isidori and his talented team have a tall order in making the Donald smile, but to me they seem more than up to the task. I did tastings with the sommeliers at Aureole and Wynn, and was impressed by their knowledge and camaraderie. The wine bar at the Mirage, Onda Wine Lounge, was also an unexpected little gem. It is an intimate setting where they are doing terrific free tastings on Friday afternoons and exposing people to great wines from all parts. Finally, don’t miss Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace—the meal was nothing short of surprising, awesome, deft, superb.
This whole experience was important to me because it means that the wine “fever” has caught on in a big way in Las Vegas. These young, dedicated professionals will be the future ambassadors for wine in this country and around the world. That’s cool, that’s righteous and I’m in!
Jeff Johnson — Costa Mesa Ca, — April 9, 2008 9:54am ET
Richard Scholtz — Austin, TX — April 9, 2008 5:22pm ET
Don Downing — Denver, CO — April 9, 2008 6:42pm ET
Randolph M Loos — USA — April 9, 2008 6:46pm ET
John Valenti — Detroit, Michian, USA — April 10, 2008 7:35pm ET
Sean Meehan — Atlanta, GA — April 13, 2008 3:22pm ET
Khourys Fine W & S — las vegas, nv — April 13, 2008 3:38pm ET
Danny Johnson — New York — April 14, 2008 7:41pm ET
Matthew Turner — City by the Bay — April 17, 2008 10:17pm ET
Khourys Fine W & S — las vegas, nv — April 23, 2008 2:59pm ET
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