Fans of old-school Las Vegas remember fondly the $1.99 meals which, at one time, were prevalent in Sin City. They were quite popular at a time when the casinos felt the need to throw a loss-leader out there to attract gamblers.
Nowadays, they have figured out the gamblers will be there no matter how much the meal costs. In fact, Las Vegas has become quite the big ticket attraction in the opulent gambling palaces on The Strip. Chefs of world renown have restaurants in every one of the glitzy hotels where $1.99 isn't likely to buy an iced tea, much less a meal.
When I visited the M Resort - a bit south of The Strip proper - I saw that their wine bar and cellar, The Hostile Grape, was advertising $2 sparkling wine on one particular evening. Spying a way to enjoy a little wine break without tapping too heavily into the all-important gambling money, I decided to check out the offer. It was my personal version of the $1.99 meal.
To the credit of The Hostile Grape, they were not lowballing the selection. It wasn't Moet et Chandon, but it was Chandon, the California arm of the noted French Champagne house.
Chandon's Reserve Pinot Noir Brut was the $2 choice that night. It's not a top-shelf sparkler, but it carries a little more prestige than Tott's. Made from grapes that are 53% Napa County, 47% Sonoma County, this sparkler figures out to 76% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay and 2% Pinot Meunier. That's the math. Now, let's taste.
A pale golden color in the glass, the bubbles are quite fine and plentiful. A wonderfully funky little nose shows yeasty apples. The Febreze Factor that afflicts the rest of the hotel is not so prevalent down in the wine cellar. A creamy palate is no doubt due to the minimum of three years spent on yeast. Toast and earthy notes prevail, with almonds and custard very faint on the finish.
The wine was a hit with me - so big a hit, I went right upstairs and had a winning session at the blackjack table, finishing $10 up! That's enough for several more glasses of their nice $2 sparkler.