Los Angeles will soon be home to another restaurant from chef José Andrés and ThinkFoodGroup. Somni—meaning "dream" in Catalan—is a 10-seat, 20-course tasting counter that will replace Andrés' Saam at the Bazaar in the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills on March 9. Andrés has 15 Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners, including another outpost of the Bazaar in Miami Beach, Minibar in Washington, D.C., and four locations of Jaleo.
Somni's head sommelier, Brandon Miradi, believes the 170-selection wine list complements the creativity of the restaurant, which is helmed by chef Aitor Lozano. "The Somni experience is a 20-plus-course tasting menu that's evolving every second that you're sitting in that chair," he said. "As opposed to being married to one bottle, I want the bottles to evolve as your experience does." Miradi offers an entire page of half-bottles, as well as three wine-pairing options to accompany the tasting menu.
Somni focuses on Spanish wines, from Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Priorat and other regions. But the list also has strengths in California and France, including blue-chip Bordeaux like a Château Latour Pauillac 1996 and bottles from small family-owned wineries like the Raen Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir 2015.
"I really tried to keep in mind José's vision of Somni and work with the great wines and regions that he has found to work so well with [his] and chef Aitor's cuisine," Miradi said.—B.G.
Best of Award of Excellence winner DB Bistro Moderne in New York recently debuted a new "Friday Night Flight" series. A lineup of four wines will revolve around a theme every month, letting guests decide which wines come out on top in a match-up between two producers, regions or vintages. The cost ranges from $40 to $55 for four half-glasses.
"The spirit is participatory, where the guests are the judges of the contest," sommelier Josh MacGregor told Wine Spectator via email. "[It's] being able to explore a variety of 'what if' questions in the world of wine. What if the wines of Christophe Roumier and Frédéric Mugnier went head to head? Which village produces better white Burgundy: Chassagne-Montrachet or Meursault?"
Elsewhere in New York, Charlie Palmer's Best of Award of Excellence winner Aureole started a new free-corkage policy: Every night of the week after 8 p.m., and all evening on Mondays, wine lovers can bring bottles of their own free of charge.—V.S.
Scott Conant, celebrity chef and the restaurateur behind Best of Award of Excellence winner Scarpetta in Miami, has a new restaurant in Las Vegas. Italian eatery Masso Osteria opened Feb. 16 in the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa. Located about 10 miles west of the Strip, Red Rock is also home to Best of Award of Excellence winner T-Bones Chophouse & Lounge.
"It's the culmination of my entire career," Conant said in a statement following the opening. "All of the things we're excelling at, products we've used over time or recipes we've tweaked and elevated—there are hints of sophistication, but at the same time there's an overall approachability to the space."
According to Masso Osteria sommelier Stephanie Cimino, who previously worked at Best of Award of Excellence winner Giada, the new restaurant's wine program is a departure from what guests might expect to find on the Strip. With roughly 300 selections—including nearly 30 by-the-glass options—the list focuses on Italian wines, supplemented by bottlings from France, California and Oregon, and highlighting popular producers and regions as well as lesser-known ones. A "sommelier's pick" section allows diners to sample higher-end wines in 1-ounce, 3-ounce or 6-ounce pours from an Enomatic automated wine dispenser.
Conant's menu of Italian favorites includes pasta al pomodoro, squid ink rigatoni, house-made stromboli and steak Fiorentina. A family-style chef's tasting menu is also available for $65 per person.—L.W.
Chef Johnny Church of Grand Award winner Aureole Las Vegas will leave his position this month. The restaurant has a 2,700-selection list overseen by Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino wine director Harley Carbery, with many strengths across California and France, as well as Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain and Australia.
Church will become Golden Entertainment's corporate executive chef and head of culinary development. The group owns Stratosphere Hotel & Casino, which includes Top of the World Restaurant, the Award of Excellence winner that revolves 360 degrees every 80 minutes. Aureole has not yet announced a replacement.—J.H.
On March 9 and 10, the historic Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Va.,—whose Main Dining Room holds a Best of Award of Excellence—will host Laura Catena of Bodega Catena Zapata for the resort's first-ever Argentina Wine Weekend.
Greenbrier's beverage director Brian McClure told Wine Spectator that this event, inspired by a trip he took to Argentina two years ago, is a way to introduce guests to the country's wines. "Laura [is] such a powerful personality, such an amazing person … It's going to be great," he said.
On the first night, Catena and McClure will lead a tasting of six of Bodega Catena Zapata's top wines. On the second night, an "Argentine Wine Dinner" will feature eight more of the winery's offerings, served alongside a menu of classic Argentinean dishes. Pairings include king crab with the Chardonnay Mendoza Adrianna Vineyard White Stones 2013 and short rib asado with Nicolás Catena Zapata Mendoza 2010.—L.W.
Bobby Stuckey, owner of Best of Award of Excellence winner Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, Colo., was recently welcomed onboard American Airlines as a wine consultant. He will be selecting wines for the airline's in-flight and Admirals Club lists, which passengers can expect to see later this year. The wines on offer will depend on the point of origin and destination.—V.S.