In the otherwise carnivorously masculine environment of Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, a feminine tour de force runs the wine program. Chloe Helfand takes diners on a journey through the Iberian Peninsula. Here are some of the highlights from the restaurant’s very interesting wine offerings as curated by Helfand. In SLS, 855-761-7757, SLSLasVegas.com.
What are three wines that you recently started carrying that you can’t get enough of?
Red and white Burgundy, grower Champagne, Sicilian varietals, nebbiolo from Piedmont, pinot noir from Sonoma Coast and a new chardonnay I picked up from Oregon. However, I feel the need to highlight special Spanish wines. They are so underrated and yet they completely over-deliver. I can’t get enough of Rafael Palacios’ As Sortes; Suertes del Marqués’ Vidonia; Forjas del Salnés’ Goliardo; and La Vizcaína’s La Poulosa.
What are three pairings you always recommend to guests?
Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva 1991 by R. López de Heredia with our Pulpo a la Gallega, a medium-bodied, well-structured white wine paired with one of our meats of the sea. The results are harmonious. From Rioja, we just got a 2001 Monte Real Gran Reserva by Bodegas Riojanas, [made from] tempranillo, graciano and mazuelo grapes. It pairs so well with our new Kobe beef offering. The softer tannins have good structure, which brings out the savory soy notes and hoisin flavors. The 2011 Numanthia tinta de toro is delicious with our Mindful Meats ribeye. It’s a monster in the glass, taking on the character of our beautiful 8-to-10-year-old Holstein ribeye. I love old wines with dry-aged meats.
What is the most distinct thing about the Bazaar Meat wine list?
Our Spanish selections are constantly changing and growing. We have a lot of success with introducing people to Spanish wine and showing them how versatile the wines can be with our food. The Bazaar Meat wine list tells a story. The wines by the glass are mostly Spanish, and the body of the wine list starts in Spain.
What is a “challenging” food item to pair, and how do you solve the dilemma?
Cotton Candy Foie Gras. This is a specialty item, and it’s an experience in flavor and texture. We found a perfect complement to this in the De Nit brut rosé cava by Raventós i Blanc. The acidity of this Conca Riu Anoia sparkling wine cuts through the fat of the foie gras while perfecting the cotton candy.
How often do you introduce new wines?
I try to introduce new wines each week. The Bazaar Meat wine list is constantly evolving. I try to add depth in vintage and product diversity. The goal is to keep it fresh and continue to show the favorites. We want our guests to have new experiences with wine and also feel comfortable ordering something they’ve had before that they love. It is important for the team to feel inspired in learning about wine regions and building confidence discussing food and wine with our guests.
How do you work cocktails and beer into a pairing for a tasting dinner?
At the beginning of the meal—and at the end of the day—it is always about our guests. I work cocktails and beer the same way I would with wine: It always starts with a conversation and a preference. Some guests like only beer or cocktails, and some like a mixture of everything. I pair cocktails and beer with the weight and texture of a dish. My goal is to create symmetry and balance in the food and beverage experience.
What type of wine or spirit do you predict will blow up in 2016?
In terms of wine, the beauty and purity of wines from the northwest of Spain. Green Spain has been gaining ground, as wines from this region pair so well with a large portion of our food menu. With regard to spirits, I see more and more interesting vermouths from many regions that have character. I can’t predict the next big thing, but I am game to be a participant and not just a spectator in finding it.