User login

Las Vegas assumes its transformation

World United States
But the most impressive of all these projects is the City Center situated between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo. This building scheme is being carried out by the MGM Mirage group and will be delivered in 2010. This construction alone highlights the complete change of direction taking place here. One casino and a hotel, the Aria Resort (4000 rooms), are being built, whereas a congress centre would be able to accommodate 5000 people.
The range of hotels will be completed by the Harmon Hotel, Spa and residence. But other residences named Mandarin Oriental and Vdara Condo Hotel will provide hundreds of apartments and restaurants. As a whole they will generate 25 000 jobs!
Las Vegas is changing; it is no longer satisfied with gambling and eye-catching restaurants giving hurried service, like the well known eateries providing steak and lobster at $10 that existed during the 1990s. Quality has now become a key theme. And when this choice becomes an approach for a new sales strategy, the finest French chefs are naturally essential. Joël Robuchon, Alain Ducasse and even Guy Savoy have been persuaded to take part in this scheme aimed to deliver first-rate quality.

Jean Bernard

The construction site of City Center advances to big steps
and confirms the evolution of this city.
Las Vegas Master Sommeliers Masters can earn up to $ 200,000 in the town. While Las Vegas is known for gambling, the rowdy city is a burgeoning wine town for Master Sommeliers. Of the 158 Master Sommeliers in the world, 17 work in Las Vegas. At the Bellagio, there are three Master Sommeliers and 16 Sommeliers. “Anywhere you have high level of sales and people looking for great wine service and great wines, there’s going to be opportunity for Sommeliers” says Jason Smith, Master Sommelier and director of wine for the Bellagio.
Master Sommeliers can make upwards of $200,000 in Las Vegas and the new City Center, opening this fall, will create 15 to 20 sommelier positions.
Master Sommelier student Nick Hetzel, wine and bar director of Morels French Steakouse in the Palazzo Hotel, says competition for these jobs is fierce. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know that gets you the job, Hetzel says.

Nick Hetzel, director wines and drinks of "Palazzo", participates in the program of master wine steward.

Hôtel Wynn, Las Vegas
As for recruiting new sommeliers, everybody has their own preferences. For Paolo Barbieri, Master Sommelier and wine director at the Alex in the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel, he wants professionals who can sell wine from all over the world.
“I look for personality more than anything else,” says Barbieri, who also owns Barbieri Wine in Santa Barbara, California. “You have to be able to sell more wine without upsetting the customer.”
Barbieri’s average customers are wine savvy and spend $300 to $800 a bottle, but general Vegas consumers range from millionaires to $25,000 - a-year construction workers. Smith says Vegas Sommeliers must communicate with people from all social statuses and be prepared to discuss a $7 glass of Argentinean Malbec or a 1982 Chateau Petrus.
Occasionally, restaurants will sell a $15,000 bottle, but Barbieri says the down economy has hurt sales of higher-end wines. “With the economy, you have to buy wine that’s more affordable,” Barbieri says. “If I buy a wine that costs $80, I can move it faster than a $1,000 bottle that may sit for two months.”

Fred MINNICK Journaliste, Louisville (Kentucky)

Paolo Barbieri, master sommelier, is the wine manager at Alex Wynn Las Vegas. Mr Barbieri also owns the Barbieri Wine Company in Santa Barbara County, California. He is considered one of the top sommeliers in the United States.

Frédéric Panaïotis presented
Dom Ruinart 1998 in Las Vegas

The art of pulling out all the stops!

Frédéric Panaïotis (arrow) and some of the foremost wine stewards in Las Vegas.
While their chefs were gathering stars distributed by Michelin, which devoted a special guide to this city, their sommeliers were especially pampered too. Not a week passes without one or two prestige tastings bringing them together in one casino or another.
This was indeed the case for the presentation of Dom Ruinart 1998. And to emphasise the importance of this gambling city, Frédéric Panaïotis, Ruinart’s Cellar Master, made the trip to Las Vegas personally. The ‘Venitian’, a private reception room at David Burke’s restaurant, was the setting for a lunch during which each guest was able to discover Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and Ruinart Rosé.
“We are already present in the most luxurious establishments, particularly top-of-the-range gastronomic restaurants where we are ideally positioned. It is therefore essential to meet professional and we favour direct contact. Things should be done correctly though, because once we have entered the system of supplying casinos, we must be able to supply sufficient volume” explains Frédéric Panaïotis. The representative of this illustrious champagne house, who has almost completed his American tour, admits that it is easier to place Ruinart in New York or Los Angeles. But in Las Vegas, he has a tactic to his game plan: sommeliers. “In this city, they are vital for encouraging the development our brand. We provide them with the opportunity of gaining an advantage thanks to our products, which are only available in limited quantities at present. They often begin by serving our champagne by the glass to customers who do not spontaneously ask for Ruinart. Then it’s the quality of our champagnes that makes all the difference...”
The following day, it was importers of wines from leading Bordeaux estates who took their turn and came to try and charm sommeliers and purchasing managers. In another place and at a quite different time: from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., when restaurants close their doors. That too is another feature of Las Vegas!
Jean Bernard