Wine List Once-Over: Uva Wine Bar & Cibo Trattoria

It's a wine bar, so it's got to have an amazing wine list, right?

September 18, 2018

By Neal McLennan

The Spot: Uva Wine Bar, one of the city’s first watering holes dedicated to wine (and always home to some of the greatest bartenders in town) and Cibo, its attached Italian trattoria.

The Theme: The opening, very detailed map of Italy, tells you who is king here, but the list is so big that they’ve got something from everywhere (and a lot of BC Wine).

The First Impression: There’s a lot choose from here and there are some very cool deep dives to some of Italy’s less heralded regions. And one of the best lists for aged Italian wine in the city. Oddly very few listing come from the BCLDB.

The Steal: This is trickier. Uva has always given off a relaxed sort of vibe but the prices on this list are very uptight, so for deals you really have to dig. The rosé from Sperling is a really lovely wine and is $20 at the winery and at only $45, a nice deal for a wine that would typically see a higher mark-up. But for “deals” you really have to go into a older vintage. For example, the current retail on a bottle of the current vintage (2014) of Vietti Masseria Barbaresco is $116, so seeing it on the list at $306 hardly seems a steal. But when you realize that that’s for the 2007, which has undoubtedly increased in value, the $306 starts to seem like a much better deal, especially considering the wine needs that extra age.

The Not-So-Much: Well, there’s a lot here. The Aglianico for Teodosio has always been a fave for its low retail ($20) for this grape, so seeing it for $64—the dreaded more-than 3x retail—is heartbreaking. Ditto $60 for the $18 Verdicchio from Umani Ronchi, but luckily as you go up in price the mark-ups seem to go down. Sopra Sotto sells both bottles for $44 and $40 respectively, btw.

Cool Factor Bottle: Where do we start? They have the La Stella’s Maestoso from 2008 (which, come to think of it, is a major steal at $155 for a wine that’s current vintage—2015—is $90), two different vintages of Heitz’s legendary Martha’s Vineyard Napa Cab and way too many aged Italian gems to list. They have the insanely quirky Mexican Nebbiolo from L.A. Cetto, which you never see up here (and a decent value at $65). Tinhorn Creek’s experimental orange wine was made in ultra-low quantities and it also shows up here.

The Head Scratcher: Nothing really. For such a deep list I would have maybe expected a Pecorino or  Grillo in the white wine section? Maybe more than one Montepulciano in the reds? But we’re in hair-splitting territory here.

The Grade: A-. I had always thought of this an expensive list, but actually spending more time with it has caused me to see it in a new light. It’s superbly crafted and one of the few places where there’s a lot of bottle age to choose from. It’s not cheap, but it’s reasonable given the capital costs of such an endeavour.

 

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