Eating Las Vegas rarely publishes press releases — unlike most media in town — and when we do, we tell our readers that’s what we’re doing — unlike most media in town.
But we’re big fans of Darius Allyn (we even knew him when he went by a different name!), and as a congratulatory gesture for him becoming the newest Master Sommelier at Bellagio, we thought we’d show you his top 10 wine venues (with stilted, promotional commentary provided by a public relations person who probably knows next to nothing about wine – other than it’s wet). Amazingly, some of these are not on MGM-Mirage (his employer) properties:
DARIUS ALLYN’S TOP 10 WINE VENUES
1. Craving Spanish wine? Head to Bellagio’s Picasso for a selection of more than 1,500 of the best wines from Spain, as well as classics from the rest of the world. Find out why Picasso has made the annual list of Wine Spectator’s Best Restaurants for Wine Lovers since 2002 and has received their Grand Award from 2003-2005 and again in 2008. (ELV note: no commentary needed. Robert Smith runs one of the nation’s best wine programs and should’ve won a Beard Award by now.)
2. Looking to sample a wide variety? A 2005 and 2008 winner of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence, Todd English’s Olives at Bellagio pours some of California’s best wines, as well as selections from Spain, the South of France and Italy and you can enjoy them all overlooking the Fountains of Bellagio. (ELV note: this one clearly has the MGM-Mirage p.r. fingerprints all over it. ELV can think of no good reason to either eat or drink at Olives.)
3. Wine takes center stage at Aureole where the wine angels fly to the top of a phenomenal four-story Wine Tower and float back down for the perfect pour. The climate controlled wine cellar which holds 10,000 bottles of their 60,000 bottle selection within a glass and stainless steel skyscraper-like structure. While the wine angels are a sight to see, the wine list is as well – winning the Grand Award from 2000-2005 and again in 2008. (ELV note: Aureole is where Allyn cut his wine teeth.)
4. Off The Strip, Lotus of Siam has what Allyn calls a “great and reasonable” selection that will perfectly complement the delicious Thai dishes for which the restaurant is known. (ELV note: LoS has the best German wine list in the county – on this ELV and Robert Parker agree.)
5. At Michael Mina’s SEABLUE at MGM Grand, Allyn loves the amazing selection of over 100 Rieslings from Germany, Austria and the new world. They also have superb choices for pairing with a wide array of seafood specialties. (ELV note: love the restaurant, love Stephen Hopcraft (its chef), love the list. Now if only it didn’t have the worst, most inaccessible location in Vegas…)
6. Wynn’s Alex has a delightful collection that is artfully paired with their signature tasting menu. (ELV note: we love ALEX, Alex Stratta and Paolo Barbieri (ALEX’s wine director)…but bring $$$…as Wynn/Encore’s markups are the highest in town. No fault of Paolo’s – management’s to blame.)
7. Peruse a complex list of 625 different wines from around the world at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon’s unique dinner counter, where your gourmet meal is created right before your eyes. With its growing list of superb French-focused wines and champagne. (ELV note: if you drink anything but French here, you should have your head examined.)
8. At ARIA, Sage boasts a list that is both thoughtfully selected, including organic, small-vineyard wines from vintners with sustainable practices, and reasonably priced. (ELV note: Sage’s small-but-mighty list has some of the most reasonable prices on the Strip.)
9. Allyn always has fun pairing the perfect wine with a prime cut at Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak. (C’mon Darius, how tough is that? Pairing wine with beef is about as hard as matching John Travolta with a bad movie.) The wine list of over 2,000 selections touches on virtually every corner of the earth to meet the diverse needs of its guests. To go along with the family theme concept of Craftsteak, they also offer an array of large format wines, including nine liter bottles that can serve parties of up to 60 people. (ELV note: see Wynn/Encore above.)
10. And, of course, Allyn would be more than happy to show off the luscious Italian wine collection at his new home, the recipient of Wine Spectator’s 2008 Best of Award of Excellence, Bellagio’s Osteria de Circo. While the list focuses on the best and most unique wines of Italy, Circo stores more than 500 selections of premium wine – representing every region of the world – in its cellar. (ELV note: we’ve always liked the list at Circo, and under Allyn, it promises to get even better.)
Congrats again to Allyn for his new position. And we’ll be seeing him soon at Circo, where, we understand, a new chef is now at the stoves.