That’s Life Fall 2013 Portfolio Tasting

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That’s life is one of the smaller importers in British Columbia, with both a wine and sake portfolio. They specialize in high end producers that operate within a certain ‘low intervention’ ethos, and their portfolio includes many traditionalist, organic, and biodynamic producers. They have one of the most interesting and high quality French selections in the city. Most excitingly, their Burgundy selections are growing, with several top producers on their way to the province (e.g. Roulot, Ramonet, Sauzet and Armand). My picks from the tasting are as follows.

Guy Charlemagne Cuvee Charlemagne Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2008: Guy Charlemagne is located in Mesnil sur Oger in the heart of blanc de blancs territory and makes a classic style of wine. The Cuvee Charlemagne is well made blanc de blancs with biscuit and autolysis notes. It is easy drinking and very tasty, though not at the upper echelon of this style. Very Good+. $73 list.

Vilmart & Cie Champagne Grand Cellier Premier Cru n/v: Vilmart’s style is particularly unique: its blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir produces a particular savory fruit character distinctly Vilmart. These Champagnes are aged in foudres for 10 months before bottling, and then 3-4 years in bottle for the n/v. Very Good+. $82 list.

Domaine Michelot Bourgogne “Clos de Montmeix” 2010: Located in the town of Meursault, this Bourgogne blanc is far more complex and rich than you normally get for basic Bourgogne. It really is a baby Meursault at a superb price. If you like rich, modern Chardonnay that still has the Burgundy acid structure, this is highly recommended. Very Good+. $40 list.

Domaine Michelot Meursault Charmes Premier Cru 2009: From the legendary Charmes vineyard, this is a superbly crafted Meursault with great balance for this warm, lush vintage. Michelot is a 6th generation family producer with considerable holdings in the village. This Charmes is made with 50-60 year old vines planted on the classic limestone soils of Charmes. Excellent. $86 list.

Domaine Arlaud Bourgogne Roncevie 2011: Arlaud is one of the hot producers in Burgundy these days. The transition from chemical farming to fully organic farming took place from 1999 to 2007. The wines have reputedly improved considerably. In 2011 these are delicious wines. I adored the pure, bright berry fruit of this vineyard designated Bourgogne. Roncevie used to be part of the Gevrey-Chambertin AOC, but was declassified in 1964 for purely bureaucratic reasons. This means the wine is a bargain and a great way to get into Burgundy without the big bucks. Very Good+. $46 list.

Domaine Arlaud Gevrey-Chambertin 2011: A step up from the Roncevie, this shares the pure fruitedness of that wine, but with added complexity. The great expression of these 2011’s makes them easy to open now and a great vintage for drinking young while the hefty 08’s, 09’s and 10’s mature. Very Good+ to Excellent. $85 list.

Domaine Seguin-Manuel Savigny-Les-Beaune “Lavieres” 1er Cru 2011: Seguin-Manuel has two branches: negocient and domaine. Quality is high for the negocient wines, but I am particularly excited about the domaine offerings, which in my experience have been quite high quality for the price. This Savigny premier cru is a great example of Savigny’s rustic, savage terroir (vs. the greater purity and finesse of Gevrey), but it is also focused around fruit and expression rather than a backwards style. Very Good+. $55 list.

Henri Bonneau Les Rouliers vin de France n/v: Bonneau is one of the most traditional producers in Chateauneuf du Papes, using large foudres and long elevage. This wine, however, is an interesting mix of multiple vintages that yet tastes fresh, with great acid and tannin structure. As such, this is more modern and accessible than Bonneau’s Chateauneufs, which can be an acquired taste (with the greater oxidtative characteristics). High quality for the price. Very Good+. $55 list.


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