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Aureole raises the stakes in Las Vegas
Aureole Las Vegas lets you know how important it considers wine from the moment you walk through the door. The entrance staircase winds around a 42-foot-tall glass-enclosed "wine tower" filled with Lucite wine bins. Two "wine angels," young women clad in black cat suits, retrieve the bottles inside.
"I took one look, and I knew we had to open with a great wine program, or this would be a laughingstock," says Steven Geddes, Aureole's wine director and a 25-year veteran of the Las Vegas restaurant scene.
If anyone is laughing now, it is with pure joy. Geddes purchased two extensive cellars, rich in mature Bordeaux and California Cabernet Sauvignon, to supplement an extensive range of current vintages from all over the world. The result was an opening-day list of 1,900 wines. That has grown to 2,300 selections as of June 1.
Highlights include verticals of major Champagnes back to the 1960s, 23 Montrachets back to 1979 and Lafite, Latour, Mouton, Margaux, Pétrus and Yquem back to 1900. There are 18 Turley Zinfandels, 23 Williams Selyem Pinot Noirs and scads of cult California Cabernets: Araujo, Colgin, Maya, Harlan and Screaming Eagle. There is a 22-vintage vertical of Penfolds Grange back to 1964 and an extraordinary range of dessert wines from which to choose.
Geddes also had two rolling carts made to hold everything a sommelier might need, including silver bottle-coasters, linen napkins, Shout packets (to take care of spills), candles, decanters and a variety of tasting glasses. (Before pouring samples for their customers, Geddes and his sommeliers taste every wine to weed out bad bottles.) And every wineglass is steamed clean with distilled water and wiped dry with a lint-free cloth.
All that attention to detail has paid off with the most visible and exciting wine program in Las Vegas and, just maybe, something for the whole country to look up to. Just keep an eye out for the tower of wine.
Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 89119
Telephone (702) 632-7401
Wine selections 2,300
Number of bottles 45,000