Thursday, April 24, 2008

Vino Las Vegas visits Fiamma Trattoria in the MGM to attend the Pinot Noir Mini Camp featuring Oregon wines


Fiamma Trattoria is located inside the world famous MGM Grand Resort and Casino. Actually, Fiamma is famous in its own right. Coming from SoHo in New York city it earned a well deserved three star
designation from the New York Times.


We took a look at the menu and were intrigued by Executive Chef Carlos Buscagila take on traditional Italian cuisine in a very modern , sleek atmosphere.


When you first walk in, you notice the long bar that runs
the length of the restaurant. Then you can't help but be drawn to the


couches and plush chairs near the fireplace. This is a perfect place for a

cocktail before dinner or a glass of wine and great conversation.



On this visit we were there to enjoy some of the best Pinot Noirs from
Oregon paired with a seven course dinner. Karen and Jim Bergstrom were there from Bergstrom Wines. Actually, to quote Sommelier Julia Moretti, " This all started with a glass of Bergstrom Pinot Noir a few years a go ". It was well worth the wait. Jim featured the Bergstrom "Cumberland Ranch" Pinot Noir 2006 and his Bergstrom " Dr Bergstrom " Riesling 2006 during the dinner.


Laurent Montalieu winemaker/ proprietor of Solena Cellars was also in attendance and the dinner featured his Solena , Pinot Gris, 2006 and the Solena Pinot Noir 2006.










Showing off her wines was Debra Hatcher, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for A to Z and Rex Hill Vineyards and Winery. She was featuring her A to Z Pinot Gris 2006, A to Z Pinot Noir 2006 and for one of the most interesting pairings of the night the Rex Hill "Unwooded"
Chardonnay 2006 and the Rex Hill " Dundee Hills" Pinot Noir 2006.





Winemaker Laurent Montalieu of Solena Cellars
paired his Solena Pinot Gris 2006 and Solena Pinot Noir 2006 with
some great food created and paired by Executive Chef Carlos Buscaglia
and Sommelier Julia Moretti.







The first course was Cheese and Charcuterie paired with the A to Z
Pinot Gris 2006. This pairing was right on with the wine pairing nicely with the Salami, Proscuitto and all the Traditional Accompaniments.


Next we enjoyed the Solena Pinot Gris 2006 with a Tuna Belly Crudo with Cremini Mushrooms. We were just getting started when we had the first Pinot Noir of the night with a Beet salad. The A to Z Pinot Noir 2006 blended nicely with the beets and drunken goat cheese.








We spotted the next pairing when we first saw the menu a few days prior to the event. We looked forward with anticipation to the pairing of Rex Hill " Unwooded" Chardonnay 2006 and Rex Hill " Dundee Hills " Pinot Noir 2006 with Seared Diver Scallop and Braised Short Ribs. As we suspected, it was a memorable pairing with this dish. Both wines paired well with the Scallop and the Braised Short Ribs and they changed on the nose and palate to compliment each dish.

Ravioloni , a short rib raviloi with barbara wine reduction, was combined with a spectacular Pinot Noir from Solena 2006 vintage. We were just past the half way point and each of the winemakers took turns with Chef Carlos in explaining the pairings.



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Veal and Foie Gras was next with a Bergstrom "Cumberland Ranch" Pinot Noir reduction. What
a better wine to pair with this dish than the Bergstrom "Cumberlin Ranch" Pinot Noir 2006. And
we were not disappointed.

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We were finally ready for the last course, a wonderful Panna Cotta with strawberry and mango and a Riesling reduction prepared by Pastry Chef Nika Yazdani. Bergstrom " Dr Bergstrom" Riesling 2006 was a nice contrast to the very sweet desert.

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We have been to many winemaker dinners in many venues. This event was very special in many respects. Fiamma is a beautiful restaurant and provided a very classy and sophisticated back drop. The work of Chef Carlos and Chef Nika along with Sommelier Julia Moretti is commended. All of these pairings were excellent and some of the best we have had. General Manager Tim Ryan has put together a world class staff at Fiamma and we plan to return often for dinner, a drink and future winemaker dinners that are in the works. Great Job to Fiamma and thank you to the Oregon winemakers that traveled to our great culinary city of Las Vegas



Fiamma Trattoria (MGM Grand) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Vino Las Vegas enjoys the great wine and food at the 26th annual Santa Barbara County Vintner's Festival in Lompoc Ca.



We have attended the Santa
Barbara County Vintner's Festival
many times in the past. This year's
event was special as it was the 26th
Annual.



The Festival was originally held at the Mission Santa Ines in Solvang. This first event featured 17 wineries and at the time there were less than 7000 acres of vineyards bearing fruit.







Now we are here in Lompoc in 2008
this years event will play host to
over 90 wineries along with many local restaurants and caterers.
In 2008 Santa Barbara County has over 20,000 acres of vines.
This is a far cry from the event held 26 years ago.


This is one of our "special " places to visit and we enjoy the small
town feel of the entire area. The winemakers know each other, many as long time friends. They seek advice from each other to
not only further their own wines but the entire area. This is what
stands out for us, the camaraderie amongst the member Vineyards.




April is the perfect time of year to have this event. River Park in
Lompoc is centrally located for visits to Santa Maria, Santa Ynez,
Los Olvios, Buelleton and Solvang. The weather is comfortable
and the vineyards are awakening from their winter sleep. Wild flowers are everywhere producing roadside shows of yellow, blue , pink , white and purple.



Each year the Festival out does it self and this year was no exception. With some of the best Pinot Noir and Syrah in the country accented with varietals like Sauvignon Blanc , Viognier and Marsanne how could you go wrong ? You cant !










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With long time names like Ken Brown , Kathy Joseph , Ken Volk and Kris Curran all in attendance along with many of the newer wineries you can enjoy the best wines from the member wineries all in one venue. The food is exceptional with each tasting tent hosting two
or more restaurants or caterers showing off their expertise.
If you have never been to this area or you are a long time visitor, The 27th Annual Santa Barbara County Vintner's Festival is going to be worth the visit. We plan to be there in 2009 and hope you see all of you !

Vino Las Vegas visits Buttonwood Winery and Farm in the Santa Ynez Valley



Buttonwoods 39 acre vineyard stretches across the rolling hills of the Santa Ynez valley. The entire property includes about 106 acres that include the vineyard , winery , tasting room , a pond and peach orchards. Its is a true farm in every sense of the word and is busy all year around.
The vineyard started planting in 1983 and now has grown to over
33,000 vines. Buttonwood has a wide variety of vines such as
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Marsanne, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah . These Bordeaux and Rhone style wines grow well in the eastern Santa Ynez Valley.



We had met winemaker Karen Steinwachs at the World of Pinot Noir. She really impressed us with her passion for winemaking and decided to stop by when we were in Santa Ynez. Karen is not a newcomer to the business. She started at Foley for a six week harvest job that turned into three years. During this time she developed her passion and never looked back.






Karen was just beginning and off to Fiddlehead vineyards. She now had
the day to day responsibility of looking after the wine and stayed there
for three harvests. She felt it was time to do something on her own. She
landed at Buttonwood as their winemaker and what a great fit it seems to be.




We met Karen at the winery and we drove into the vineyard. On
the way to the "top" we passed a beautiful pond near the winery.
The road got steeper and we drove through the peach orchards and even saw the goat pins. We climbed higher still, turned a sharp
corner on the dirt road and what a view. We were on top of a mesa surrounded by Buttonwoods vineyard and the farm and
orchards streached out below us. From this vantage point we could see the Santa Ynez valley and many of the vineyards. That is a view that we will not soon forget.

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We spoke with Karen on top of the Mesa as she explained her winemaking philosophy and showed geographic landmarks of the valley below. As we spoke to her , you could see the love and passion for what she does. We headed down for a look at the winery and to taste some of her wines.
We started off with the Buttonwood " Zingy" Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2007. The nose on this refreshing wine jumped out at us and the palate came through with citrus and classic Sauvignon Blanc overtones. This little " Zingy" really surprised us and would be perfect on a warm sunny day. We have had many Sauvignon Blancs and this one is right in there with the best.
We also tasted the Buttonwood Trevin which is Buttonwoods proprietary name for their Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon . The blend on the Trevin can change with each vintage as Karen uses a blend that showcases the best elements of Trevin's three components. This is a great food wine and only has a production of 486 cases.
Buttonwood even produces a Cabernet Franc. Buttonwood Cabernt Franc Santa Ynez Valley 2003 is another one that stood out for us. On the nose the spice really came through and on the palate as well. Buttonwood even has a "Franc Fest" every year to show off this incredible wine. With only 313 cases produced this is one to jump for.
We enjoyed our visit at Buttonwood and the opportunity to spend time with Karen. She took us on a tasting tour of most of the Buttonwood wines. They were all very special. If you are in Santa Ynez stop by and say hello to Karen and her staff. To learn more about Buttonwood you can go to http://www.buttonwoodwinery.com/.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

VINO LAS VEGAS speaks with renown winemaker Kathy Joseph at the Santa Barbara Vintner's Festival


The Santa Barbara County Vintner's Festival brings together legends and newcomers to the world of winemaking . Vino Las Vegas had the great fortune of speaking with awarding winning renown winemaker Kathy
Joseph of Fiddlehead Cellars. Kathy is well
known in the wine industry and we spoke with her her about how she got started making her wines and her future plans.



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It was a pleasure as always to spend some time with Kathy. If you are in Lompoc , Fiddlehead is a mandatory stop on any itinerary. For more Fiddlehead Cellars information you can go to www.Fiddleheadcellars.com
We had the opportunity to meet
Wes Hagen, winemaker at Clos
Pepe
vineyards at the World of
Pinot Noir. Vino Las Vegas was invited to
the vineyard's open house after the Santa
Barbara Vintner's Festival in Lompoc. Clos
Pepe is only open by appointment and the wines are allocated .

When Wes invited us to attend the open
house we were honored to attend and take our worldwide readers with us.




Clos Pepe is a family-owned vineyard and winery set in the heart of the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County, California. They have about 29 acres planted in vines. 25 acres are planted in Pinot Noir, and 4 acres in Chardonnay. Pinot Noir is what Clos Pepe is know for and make about 800 cases of Estate Pinot Noir each year. They also produce about 100 cases of Chardonnay that is aged without the use of any new oak. The vineyard is well known sell grapes to other wineries.

Wes believes that great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is an expression of hard work in the vineyard and was named Central Coast Winegrower's Association Grower of the Year 2001-2002 and is also the winemaker.
His wife Chanda is also the assistant winemaker. The open house was amazing. We had driven by the large locked gates on many previous visits. On this visit we drove up the long driveway through the vineyard to a home that is beyond description. Wes welcomed us and gave us a tour. He also showed us his wood
burning oven where they were making custom made flat bread pizza at pool side.


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Another interesting fact is that Wes was burning old french barrel stays in the oven. At those prices that probably made for some of the most expensive firewood in history. Cloe Pepe is
a well known winery and many vineyards purchase fruit from them. The Clos Pepe 2000 Chardonnay has held up just fine as well as the 2000 Pinot Noir.
Wes and Clos Pepe have an fantastic website that can be found at www.clospepe.com You can watch a great video presentation about his winemakeing and the vineyard. We raise our glass of Pinot and say Cheers ! to Wes, Chanda and the entire Clos Pepe staff for a job well done.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Vino Las Vegas visits Peter Work for some barrel tasting at the Ampelos Cellars winery in Lompoc


On the way to the Santa Barbara
Vintner's Festival
we stopped at the Ampelos Cellars winery in Lompoc. We know these wines very
well and have watched this Vineyard
really come into its own. We await every vintage with anticipation to see what great surprises they have

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in store for us each year. Barrel tasting is the best way to compare the past vintages and current releases with the next vintage that is 'in the barrel". Many of these wines can be in the barrel for 15 months or more. Watch as we join vineyard owner Peter Work barrel taste Ampelos cellars Syrah , Pinot Noir and Grenache to see how they are progressing.

Vino Las Vegas walks around Los Olivos California

Vino Las Vegas visits the Buelleton, Solvang, Santa Ynez , and Los
Olivos area often. Many of the wineries in the area have their only


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tasting room located in downtown Los Olivos. For a population of only 1000 there are many things going on. You can slip world class wines as you dine at some of the finest restaurants in the area. After your meal , feel free to do some more tasting or stop in at many art galleries and antique shops. Los Olivos is a favorite place for us and is worth a visit. For more Los Olivos information you can check out http://www.losolivosca.com

Elaine from Vino Las Vegas made a stop in Los Olivos one afternoon to taste some wine and enjoy some art.




Thursday, April 17, 2008

Join Vino Las Vegas as we see wine history made in Nevada



It is not often we can see a part of history
take place before our eyes. Recently Vino
Las Vegas not only
had the opportunity to watch history being made but actually participate in it. The Pahrump Valley winery has been a fixture in Pahrump Nevada for many years. A few years ago Bill Loken and his wife Gretchen became
the new owners. They have really stepped it up a notch. For years the winery sold many varietals from Chardonnay to Merlot. Names like
Symphony , Peak , Desert Blush and white Merlot were well known to the winery's visitors.

In 2005 the Lokens harvested Zinfandel that had been planted at the winery. For three years Gretchen and Bill worked on perfecting what
would become their first estate Red Wine.



In April 2008 , the wine was ready and the
history books were about to be rewritten.
The first commercial estate bottled Red Wine in the State of Nevada was bottled at the winery.

As members of the Press and bottling crew watched, Bill placed the first bottle of Nevada Ridge Zinfandel 2005 "First Crush" into the Fill machine and corked the bottle. A large round of applause filled the room and history was made. Bill 's wife and winemaker Gretchen took his side and signed the bottle. And thus bottle number one was made. The bottling crew took Their places and the line began in full operation. The entire production of 1200 bottles was in full swing. The first commercial estate grown Red wine in Nevada History was now in production.



Bill offered Scott of Vino Las Vegas the opportunity to bottle his own piece of Nevada History and Scott jumped at the chance. Vino Las Vegas is proud to have been a little piece of Nevada Food and Wine History. Once inside the winery you could even think you are in a tasting room in Napa valley or the Central Coast. Their Zagat rated gourmet restaurant Symphony is open for lunch and dinner, offers fine food served in an atmosphere of quiet elegance, at reasonable prices. Symphony have been given rave reviews by food critics and travel writers countrywide. Pahrump is located about 1 hour from Las Vegas and well worth a visit for Lunch , Dinner or just stop by and say hello.


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We here at Vino Las Vegas would like to congratulate the Pahrump Valley Winery and its staff for a job well done. We know this is the first step toward many good things to come.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Join Vino Las Vegas at Fiamma Trattoria and Bar for a Pinot Noir Mini Camp

If you like Pinot Noir the place to be April 21 is Fiamma Trattoria and Bar inside the MGM Grand Hotel right on the Las Vegas Strip. This promises to be an evening to remember. A Seven course dinner with each course paired with some great wines.
This dinner will feature Oregon Pinot Noirs like A to Z, Bergstrom , Rex Hill and Solena . As you work your way through this magnificent menu that features Italian Caviar, Foie Gras and Seared Scallops talk to the winemakers about their 2006 Vintage and of course their Pinot Noirs. . They have even brought along a few other wines to surprise us with. Vino Las Vegas will be there to cover the event and enjoy the great Food and Wine so by and say hello !

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

34th Annual UNLVino Grand Tasting 2008 at the Paris Hotel Casino

This was the 34th year for UNLVino which is an amazing feat. UNLVino has now become North America's
largest single day wine tasting event.





The Paris Hotel and Casino hosts this renown tasting in it's Paris Las Vegas Ballroom. Last year for UNLVino 2007 8,000 guests sampled 1,100 wines from more that 350 wineries from all over the world. UNLVino has grown into not just a wine tasting event but a live auction as well that includes trips, art, golf and much more.


When you walk into the Ballroom and see the size
and scope of this event you can only been impressed. There entire ballroom is full of wineries, water, art, food and a separate section
for the live auction which gets bigger each year.










34 Years ago UNLVino started as a small event
to help raise money for the students at UNLV.
Southern Wine and Spirits has made this event a world wide phenomena Were wine experts and novices come together from all over the world to enjoy the great City of Las Vegas, taste some renown wines and most importantly "Take a Sip for Scholarship." This event is about education as well. Southern Wine and Spirits Master Sommelier Louis DeSantos gave Scott from Vino Las Vegas quite an education on Sake.




This is one event that will be around for many years to come. We have ready heard that the 35th UNLVino in 2009 is in the works and will be bigger than ever. Join us as we talk to a few guests , sample the food and of course talk about the wine


Vino Las Vegas goes "downunder" at UNLVino's Auss-Some And Then Some 2008 at The District in Green Valley Ranch







The second event of UNLVino 2008 was AUSS-SOME AND THEN SOME ! held at The District at Green Valley. This is the only UNLVino event outside and what a perfect evening it was.



This event features wines from very exotic locations from the
Southern Hemisphere.







Wines from exotic locations such as Australia , New Zealand , South Africa , Argentina and Chile were all represented. The food was outstanding feature such
names as PF Changs and the Cheesecake factory.






The District is located at the Green
Valley Ranch in Henderson and is
a perfect location for an event like
this. You can stroll along the sidewalk and check out the many
"big name" shops as you enjoy sipping on a cappuccino .











The District is pet friendly as well and it is not
uncommon to see a few of our furry friends
shopping with their "family" members.

This is a great event for those who cannot travel
to these exotic locations. But , the wine does come from these areas and you can taste the
" terroir" or the land in french with every sip
you take.







Each of these areas is very distinct from each other even though
some produce the same varietals the "terroir " is what sets
them apart and makes each wine unique.




AUSS-SOME AND THEN SOME 2008 was a great success in our opinion. We attend many events throughout the year and look forward to AUSS-SOME AND THEN SOME every year. Come along with us as we take you inside this years event.

Elaine and Scott

Elaine and Scott
Elaine and Scott