Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy New Year and Thank you !


As the year ends our wine trail heads east once more .This time to Miami Florida for some fine dinning and of course great wine. 2007 was a great year for us and for Vino Las Vegas. We could not have done any of this without you.
To our readers, customers and friends we say thank you and wish you all the best for 2008. Please join us in the coming year as we have many trips and events planned for all of us to enjoy.
We have spoken to many of you from all over the world and have shared and learned together about some fantastic wines. This is what the "world of wine"is all about. It is about sharing food, knowledge and conversation about wine with good friends.
Please be safe over this holiday season and have a great and prosperous 2008. We will see you in January
Cheers !


Godolphin Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvingon Barossa Valley 2005


We had the opportunity to do some blind tasting with Tex and Gidget at Marche Bacchus and once again owner Jeff Wyatt did not disappoint us. Jeff informed us that our first wine was rated 93 points. As we watched Jeff pour this wine we and suggested by color in the glass it was an Australian wine most likely a blend with Shiraz. In the glass it was red-purple in color and medium bodied. The lack of an age ring suggested is was perhaps a 2005 vintage. The nose gave us hints of casiss and tannins then finished very smooth with medium tannins. Jeff came back and showed us the
Godolphin Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Barossa Valley. We felt good about this one as we hit it right on the nose!
This wine was a blend of 80% Dry-grown Barossa Valley 85 year-old Shiraz vines & 20% Dry grown Barossa Valley 60 year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines. It was fermented in 1 ton open fermenters , hand plunged 3 times daily and then matured for 14 months in 100% new oak of which 20% is American and 80% French (70% hogsheads & 30% barriques) and was bottled unfiltered. This wine was amazing and the favorite of the day by far.
Because we did so well on the first wine Jeff decided to be tougher on us the second time around. In the glass this wine had a deep purple color and medium body and not much of an age ring. The nose gave us some old world characteristics with very little fruit at first. The wine opened up after about 15-20 minuets and Gidget described it as a "party in a glass" and was right. Black plums and spice aromas were prevalent on the nose . The palate was consistent with the nose and finished with black fruit shaped by sharp acidity soft Tannins.
Jeff showed this to be a Palacios "Pétalos" Bierzo 2005. We were everywhere from Italy to France on this wine. We had never had a Bierzo so we decided to learn more about it.
The Bierzo Denominación de Origen is in the northeast of the province of Léon Spain and covers about 3,000 km². The area consists of numerous small valleys in the mountainous part (Alto Bierzo) and of a wide, flat plain (Bajo Bierzo). The DO covers 23 municipalities including the largest town of the area, Villafranca del Bierzo. he soils in the mountains consist of a mixture of fine elements, quartz and slate. The vineyards are planted mainly on humid, dark soil which is slightly acidic and low in carbonates. The wines produced under the Bierzo DO must be made only with the varieties that are authorised by the Consejo Regulador (Regulatory Council). Red grapes: Mencia, Garnacha Tintorera, (experimental: Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) White grapes: Doña Blanca, Godello, Palomino, (experimental: Malvasía, Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer) The experimental varieties can only be used for crianza and reserva wines, and may not comprise more than 15%.
The climate of this region is very interesting. It has a special micro climate which is beneficial for viticulture. The area is similar to the climate of Galicia with regard to humidity and rainfall, but is also similar to the hot, dry climate of Castile. The low altitude also helps to prevent late frosts and means that the grape harvest is usually about one month earlier than in Castile. This special area of Spain is remarkable for its climate diversity and is well known for its native Spanish varietals.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lumen Illuminati Italy and Juslyn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain Napa Valley 2001




As we have always said the best way to increase your wine knowledge and skills is to do"blind" wine tasting. We joined Tex, Gidget and Michael at Marche Bacchus for some "work".
Jeff Wyatt , owner of Marche Bacchus was given the task of finding two blind wines for us. As he walked toward us with the decanted wine we all waited with anticipation.
Jeff poured the wine in our glasses and we went to work.
The color was a deep dark red and appeared medium to full bodied in the glass. We had differing opinions of the nose. There were opinions on both sides New World vs Old World. Most of us agreed this was a blend and most likely Cabernet Sauvignon. Other members suggested a blend with Syrah as well. This was a nice well balanced wine that had a long finish with medium to heavy tannins.
Jeff appeared with the bottle hiding in a brown bag ! We gave Jeff our opinions and he smiled when on of our group suggested it was Old World, Cabernet Sauvignon blend that could be Italian. Jeff placed the bottle in front of the person that got this one right !! He read the bottle as Lumen IGT Illuminati from Italy.
We did some research on this wine and found some interesting facts. Lumen was conceived by Dino Illuminati and the eminent enologist, Dott. Marone, assistant to the famous enologist Dott. Giamoco Tachis, to serve as a vehicle to show how red wine from Abruzzo can achieve a world class status.
This famous team of enologists,renown for their role as the architects of such great wines like "Sassicaia", "Tinganello" and "Solaia", created another great red wine, a blending of Montepulciano and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is primarily Montepulciano blended with varying percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, depending on the outcome of the harvest. The 1993 vintage was the premier release of this wine. From mature vines only the outer clusters of ripe grapes go into this wine.
Free run juice is gathered and the remaining grape pomace is gently pressed.At the end of the secondary fermentation .The two wines were put together in small 225 ltr casks of different qualities of oak and aged for 18 to 24 months. The wine rested in bottles in the cellar, for more than one year before its release.
The area around Controguerra and Nereto is situated on the North of the Abruzzo region, between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea and is endowed with a fortunate, natural position for its climate and renowned from ancient times for its vineyards.It was here that Nico Illuminati, an impassioned master in the art of wine making, lived during the latter half of the last century. Around the year 1890 he initiated the activity of wine production and set up the then known Estate of Nico - "Fattoria di Nico."
The Estate vineyards extend over 150 acres of the finest terrain of the whole region. The nature of the terrain is a perfectly balanced mix of clay and sand with marked presence of siliceous substances (potash, magnesium, lime, and components of silicate). The terrain is loose, deep, and fertile on considerably high, hilly grounds, twelve hundred to fifteen hundred feet above sea level.All of the vineyards have south/southwestern exposure. At present there are 150 acres of vineyards in production which makes the Estate the largest privately owned winery in the region.
Jeff Wyatt appeared once more with another decanted wine. Jeff poured the second wine and we went to work once again. The nose on this wine once again gave us mixed opinions and we were spit between New World vs Old World. There were hints of red fruit, cassis and licorice on the palate. Some of the group suggested it was a Cabernet Sauvignon blend and possibly with Merlot. Because of these characteristics some suggested it could be a french Bordeaux blend. This wine was very elegant and finished with moderate tannins and smokey oak. Jeff brought us the bottle and explained it was a Juslyn Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain 2001. This wine was magnificent and scored 92 points from Robert Parker in February of 2005.
A further examination of the bottle found this wine is made in a Bordeaux style with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot , Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Good job to those who suggested it could be a Bordeaux blend.
Juslyn vineyards was founded by Carolyn and Perry Butler on a site overlooking the renowned Spring Mountain Winery. In 1998, they made their first vintage of Juslyn from grapes purchased. In 2000, they harvested their estate for the first time to produce 80 cases of Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.
Winemaker Craig MacLean who holds a n Masters Degree from the University of California, Davis has done a great job with this wine and has really shown Juslyn wines that display elegance in the style of Bordeaux.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sunset and Vines Lake Las Vegas




Sunset and Vines is located at Lake Las Vegas. For some of us it is quite a drive but well worth it. We have dinned here previously and knew we had to come back. When we think of a bistro or wine bar one may have visions of eating at a winery or in a wine cellar. Sunset and Vines gives you that feeling from the time you walk in the door. You can dine outside over looking Lake Las Vegas , inside at a table or enjoy some wine and cheese upstairs in the lounge. No matter what you are in the mood for, We are sure you can find a place at Sunset and Vines. Their wine list is extensive and you can find some good values if you look closely. On this visit we were welcomed by our server Jamie who was very personable, professional and attentive. We started of our meal with a Piedmonte Barbera Bersano 2002 from Italy. At first we were a little "worried" about our choice in wines. Once this Barbera opened up it was well worth the wait. We dined on the Lump Crab cakes and Cesar Salad. Both of which were very good. On our last visit we had a very nice cheese and fruit plate with Italian salami. Unfortunately, Sunset and Vines only offers a cheese plate now with very nice choices of cheese but no meat. When we left the restaurant we mentioned our request to the Chef. Hopefully on our next visit we can enjoy one of their fabulous salami and cheese plates again.
If you are in the Lake Las Vegas area stop by Sunset and Vines for lunch or dinner. I know we will.

Rock N Roll Wines Rocks into Ovation at Green Valley Ranch




We have attended many of the Rock-N-Roll wine events in Las Vegas. In the past we have questioned the quality of the the wines. The wine quality at the larger festivals has always been good.


However , we have always enjoyed the venues and the music that Chris Hammond , Founder of Rock-N-Roll wines has put together. It is very hard to find a venue, music, and quality wines at the same event. The other issue is the age group of guests that enjoy these venues and music may not necessarily be educated in wine or know what quality wine is. To us , this is what Chris has been trying to do for years with his events. In our opinion he is doing a great job.




As stated before , we have attended many of these events in the past . This event at Ovation was a turning point for Chis and Rock-N-Roll wines.


Ovation is a great venue for this event. When we first walked in you could see that this was going to be a class act. A quick glance at the list of wineries confirmed that for us. There was even a special "tasting lounge" set aside for the more discriminating wine connoisseurs and the opportunity to purchase at Riedel "O" series Rock-N-Roll wine glass as well.


First up on the Entertainment list was guitarist Nick Motil who treated us with

some original "folk"music. Moteil was right on with his technical skills on the acoustic guitar and spent some time on the key boards as well. The main feature was Ingrid Michaelson who treated us with her very sultry tones and great key boards. Her style is similar to that of Nora Jones and was big success at this event.

Hearing these artists was a real treat and went well in this type of venue. Now we can talk more about the wines. First all we have to mention Stillman Brown, Winemaker of RedZepplin wines. He was pouring his Red Zeppelin Chardonnay 2006 Santa Barabara County and his "Black Zeppelin" 2005 Paso Robles in the tasting lounge. His wines were one of the best there and we will be looking for them in town soon. In the grand tasting room Brown also let us sample his Jungle Room White 2006 Blend, Jungle Room Red 2006 Blend, and his Red Zeppelin Syrah 2004.

Other wineries represented were Icon Estates, Precept Brands and Pernod Ricard. For those of you who like bubbles G.H Mumm Codon Rouge NV and Perreir-Jouet Grand Brut NV located in the tasting lounge for us to enjoy.



There were over 23 wines available for tasting many of which are very well known. Chis and Rock-N-Roll wines also had their Rock N Roll Wine "The Grotto" Shriaz 2005 there as well.








These Rock N Roll wine events are very unique and don't think
anyone has been able to do it right until now. Like with any project these events will continue to evolve. Rock and Roll Wines did it right this time and we are sure they will continue to move in a direction to find a balance between great venues, award winning artists and quality wines.

It is not often that you can get such a good value for the money. The concert alone was worth the price of admission.
Good Job Rock N Roll ! We are waiting to see what you come up with next.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Keller Estate and Delectus wines at Bleu Gourmet

We stopped in at Bleu Gourmet for the weekly wine tasting and were pleasantly surprised. Joseph and Bibiana from Vin Sauvage were there pouring the latest from


Keller Estate Vineyards.










We started off with the Pinot Gris Keller Estate 2005. Winemaker Michael Mc Neil did a great job with this Pinot Gris. It is done in an Alsatian style with aromas of peach and flowers on the nose. The palate complements the peach flavors with hints of mineral and finishes long and refreshing.

Bibiana brought over the second wine of the evening which was La Cruz Vineyard Chardonnay Keller Estate 2005. On the nose aromas of pear, apple and mineral jumped out with the palate taking over with flavors of pear and apple finishing with hints of lemon. This was a very nice Chardonnay that for us was a nice change from the "big, bold" Chardonnays also found in Sonoma and Napa Valley.


The final Keller wine we tasted was the La Cruz Vineyard Pinot Noir Keller Estate 2004. Winemaker Michael McNeil has a real hit with this one. PinotFile magazine stated this pinot noir is " darn near perfect" and we agree. In the class this pinot was medium bodied with the classic Burgundy color you would expect. Aromas of cherry, spice and tobacco all combine with a wonderful nose. The palate comes alive with bold ripe cherries, spice and smoke and got better as it opened up . The rich flavors and aromas carry through together for a long finish.


The Pinot Noir was by far our favorite of the night. Our group purchased two bottles for the table and were enjoyed immensely.


Joseph at Vin Sauvage always has something special for us to try and this was no exception. After we finished the Keller Wines , Joseph brought over a bottle of Argentum Delectus Napa Valley 2005. This wine has become sought after at several high-end restaurants' by-the-glass program..The interesting fact about this wine is that it is made from parts of all of the high end Delectus wines. It is Cabernet blend with Merlot, Petite Syrah, and Syrah which combine for a fantastic nose of tobacco and spice with flavors of clove and molasses.


These wines were impressive and we plan to look for them in the future. We raise our glass to Sonny, Joseph and Bibiana for a great tasteing ! Thank you

Cheers !

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Clos des Papes 2004 and Domaine du Gaillou Cuvee Unique 2004 Chateauneuf du Pape


We have spoken many times
about wines you will always
remember and these are two of them.
We joined our friends Tex, Gidget and Michael on a quest to have these incredible wines with dinner. Both of these wines have been called some of the finest in the world right now.


What a better place to have these wines and great food is Rosemary's Restaurant. Chefs Michael and Windy Jordon are very well known for there fabulous restaurant and great service.
We asked for the Clos Des Papes 2004 Chateaunuef du Papes 2004 and it lives up to very bit of the 96 points awarded by Wine Spectator. In the glass it showed medium to full bodied with a dark red purple color. On the nose there were aromas of earth, and liqueur. The palate brings forth earth and raspberries and the finish is smooth and lingering. The blend of the 2004 is 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah with the balance being filled with Counoise. The "Clos des Papes" 2005 was recently elected best wine of the world by the U.S. "Wine Spectator" magazine.

The father-and-son team, Paul and Vincent Avril are already established as one of the very finest wine making-partnerships in the southern Rhône. As early as in 1896 Paul Avril's grandfather started bottling wine under the mark Clos des Papes.
The blend, though this will vary annually depending on conditions, is predominantly Grenache (65%) with the remaining being made up of Mourvèdre, Syrah and a tiny amount of Counoise.
The Sommelier informed us there were two bottles left of the Domaine du Gaillou 2004 Chateauneuf du Pape so we "had " to try that one as well. It gave us a great opportunity to do some side by side tasting of the same vintage from two vineyards. In the glass this one appeared darker than the Clos Des Papes and was medium to full bodied. On the nose a slight hint of earth came through initially but gave way to floral notes and red berries. The mouth feel was silky with red fruit , floral and a hint of spice. This wine finished beautifully over a long time with floral and fruit notes to the end.
This was memorable Châteauneuf from 50-year-old vines, all aged in older foudres. The blend was 95% Grenache, with a dash of Syrah and Mourvèdre to finish it off.
We took a vote among the five of us and the Domaine du Gaillou just edged out the Clos des Papes as the favorite. In our opinion the Clos des Papes had more or a lighter feminine quality whereas the Domaine du Gaillou was more fruit forward and bolder all around. Nevertheless, both of these wines were memorable and will not be forgotten any time soon.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chefs for Charity Wine and Food Event


This time of year most of us think about giving

and what we can do to help others less fortunate


than we are. Chef Cindy and Chefs for Charity


held a wonderful event at Queensridge to support Catholic Charities.


The event, Chefs for Charity Sip and Savor featured Chefs from Las Vegas and from as far away as Napa Valley California. These renowned Chefs teamed up for Holiday with the Chefs Toy Drive. The event started with a meet and greet with Top Chef Contestant Chef Otto Borsich from season two. Santa stopped

by and joined in watching a live Ice sculpting demonstration . There were even pony rides for the kids. The adults enjoyed a gourmet food and wine reception. One of the highlights of the afternoon was a cooking demonstration by Executive Chef James Aptakin from the Hilton in Napa Valley and our own Chef Vic Vegas from the House of Lords at the Sahara Resort Hotel and casino. These two great chefs teamed up to make a Bananas Foster that was out of this world. The afternoon finished with Chef James demonstrating vegetable and fruit carving. He amazed everyone with his culinary creations. This was a great event for a very worth while cause that will help some children and families in the Valley. Cheers to Chef Cindy, Chef Borsich and the others who took time out of their very busy schedules and put on this great event !






Vintner Grill a rising star in Las Vegas




We have been dining at Vintner Grill from its grand opening and have yet to be disappointed. Executive Chef Matthew Silverman does a great job including American, Mediterranean, Italian and French influences in the menu. Beverage Director/Sommelier Troy Kumalaa has done a great job with the wine list as well. We have seen the list grow significantly over the last year. Vintner Grill even has a wine room just off the kitchen area where you can dine surrounded by 100's of wines from all over the world.

In Las Vegas finding a restaurant of this caliber open for lunch is very hard to find. We stop in for lunch often and enjoy a fabulous bottle of wine and a cheese plate which features Wisconsin Cheese brought in specially for the restaurant. Another feature we enjoy is the patio dinning. You dine al fresco among all types of tropical plants which for a while makes you think you are no longer in Las Vegas. We travel often to Florida and Key West. From the moment we walk in the architecture reminds us of South Beach or Key West beach side fine dining restaurant. Vintner Grill has been getting some great reviews which are highly deserved. Vintner Grill is located at 10100 W Charleston Blvd. To learn more about Vintner Grill click on the link to the right of the page. This is new and rising star here in Las Vegas and we plan to continue to watch it shine.

Vino Las Vegas visits Vino 100 Wine Shop


We have heard so many great things about Vino 100 for a while now, but had not had the opportunity to stop by. We met Natalie Buster , owner of Vino 100 at an American Wine Society event a few

months ago and promised we would come by. Vino 100 is located in NW Las Vegas at 7220 W Azure Dive. We really didn't know what to expect as there are not many small wine shops in Las Vegas. When we walked in, it was what we would want from a "real" wine shop. Walls are full of wines for every budget. Natalie has done a great job with wine education and special events focusing on a particular country and appellation. She had just completed Bordeaux week and has many great events planned for 2008. Vino 100 has a wine tasting every day and the staff's knowledge is very good. We will come by often and try those great wines, some of which are not easily found in this area. For more information about Vino 100 there is a link to the right of the page.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Rosenblum Petite Syrah 2005 San Francisco Bay Heritage Clones


Rosenblum wines has had a a great reputaion for many years. It was a great honor to meet Ken Rosenblum at the American Wine Society Chapter picnic a few months ago and he was gracious enough to donate several of his wines to the event.
We met Tex and Gidget's wine group for our monthly blind wine tasting. This month the wines were Syrah, Zinfandel and Malbecs. Six wines were selected for this meeting. 2005 Rosenblum Petite Syrah San Francisco Bay Heritage Clones (90 ws), 2005 Bodega Melipal Malbec Mendoza Argentina(89 ws) , 2004 Achaval-Ferrer Malbec Mendoza Argentina (91 ws), 2005 Torbreck WoodCutter's Shriaz Barossa Valley Australia (88 ws), 2005 Ridge Three Valleys Sonoma County California (87 ws), and the 2002 Arrowood Syrah Saralee's Vineyard Russian River Valley California (87ws, 93-96 wa)
All of these wines were great and it was difficult to distinguish them apart. Of the entire group one member correctly identified 3 of the 6 wines. We identified 2 of the 6 wines. As usual, the group voted on their favorite wine of the evening before they were unveiled to us. The Rosenblum Petite Syrah 2005 won the vote.
This Petite Syrah-Hetitage clone 2005 is from San Francisco Bay appellation at the foot of Mt Diablo. The Vineyards are planted with two selections of Petite Syrah both from 80 to 100 years old. The wine was aged in 60% American and 40% French oak and once barreled they were not racked again until bottling .
In the glass this wine was medium bodied with a deep dark color. On the nose aromas of ripe blackberries, plum and spice. The palate explodes with flavors of plums, chocolate and spice with a nice finish of mocha and medium tannins. This wine is very well balanced with a great nose, flavor and finish typical of a Rosenblum wine.
The wine makers comments suggest pairing this Petite Syrah with Prime Rib, Leg of Lamb or Pot Roast.

Elaine and Scott

Elaine and Scott
Elaine and Scott