I just returned from a medical meeting at the Bellagio in Vegas. As usual the vibrant and luxurious restaurant scene of this city provided a few eye-poppers. I ate at L’Atelier de Joel Rebuchon at the MGM Grand, and Picasso at the Bellagio. The former is the cheaper and more casual version of its sister restaurant, also at the MGM which is more formal an expensive. L’Atelier was expensive enough. Rebuchon’s encyclopedic wine list included a 1982 Ch. Petrus at the whopping price of $ 12,000 (I am quoting the price to the nearest zero). This, for a regular size bottle, not a magnum or any other large format. Granted, Petrus is a “Rolls Royce” label, and ’82 was one of the greatest years of the last century in Bordeaux. In fact it was the vintage that catapulted Bordeaux to stratospheric prices thereafter. Still, $12,000? Who buys this stuff?

I suppose there may be a few ultra rich who wouldn’t blink an eye at spending that kind of money on wine. My bet is that these are ordered by the not-so-rich who do it upon moments of Las Vegas insanity, like hitting big on a game, various forms of intoxication, or while impressing women like mistresses, or fancy escorts. Most who do this are likely to not appreciate the wine, or its age.

The next night at Picasso, a more formal French restaurant with a wine list 3 times the Rebuchon size, I saw that same ’82 Petrus listed for around $14,500. Wow! A 5 dollar taxi ride from the Bellagion to the MGM could have saved you $2500 on that Petrus. Maybe the value conscious among the Las Vegas insane should engage in comparison shopping on ultra luxury labels.

As for me, I stuck to my favorites, and by Vegas standards they were cheap. At Rebuchon I ordered a 2005 Domaine Tempier Bandol at $85 one of the cheapest wines in their list where 2 digit prices were rare. I suppose the kind of folks who enjoy Bandol don’t hang out much in Vegas, hence the “bargain” mark-up. At Picasso I ordered an ’05 Ch. La Nerthte Cahteauneuf du Pape, and ’04 Guigal Ch. du Pape, each at $110 (we were on a bussiness expense account). The ’04 Guigal was wonderful. ’05 was still too young and closed (another sin of restaurants: they sell the wines too young, but that could be the subject of another blog).

I am sure those reading the above are stunned by these prices which I am reporting as bargains. But that’s what Vegas has become. An assortment of well known establishments from various big cities in the U.S. , and a few from elsewhere, which have e-mailed copies of themselves to Vegas as it were, and are hawking their offerings at much higher prices than their home establishments.

“Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, the saying goes. Well, maybe, whoever wishes for reasonably priced wines should stay home.

Moris Senegor