BEST WINE LIST - 2006
La Belle Vie
There are quite a few remarkable wine lists in Minnesota. The deep, old, California red majesty of steak palace Manny's comes to mind, as does the unspeakably lengthy compilation of exotica featured at Stillwater wine bar Cesaré, and the astonishing Spanish breadth on offer at downtown Minneapolis's tapas restaurant Solera. Still, even thinking of all those excellent lists, the new wine list at the brand new location of La Belle Vie is something astonishing. Why? Simply because it takes the idea of service to the customer to a whole new level, by elevating the idea of something for everyone to new heights. For the connoisseurs and big rollers, there are all sorts of $200 bottles of things never before seen in Minnesota, rare older Bordeaux, say, or in-the-know eyebrow raisers, like cult Cabernets produced in microscopic batches that have been direct-imported specifically for La Belle Vie through local importers. For the learned but bored, there are wines no one else has, unusual Slovenian wines, say, or Gruner Veltliners with exotic top notes evoking fields in their native Austria. For the budget-minded, however, there's an absolute abundance of bottles in the $20 and $30 range, bottles that put the fine dining at La Belle Vie within reach of those whose wine taste must be paid for after grad school or day care bills. Much credit then to Bill Summerville, who spent several years before La Belle Vie's autumn 2005 opening dreaming up such a long, long, and terribly useful list. The thing we like most about this list is that it's not just about the wine—though it is about the wine. More, it takes service to the guest to a new level, anticipating the needs of all and sundry, and welcoming diners at whatever level they're most comfortable. There're wine smarts, which La Belle Vie has in abundance, and then there're hospitality and grace. What a joy to find a spot that unites them both!