Wine List Once-Over: Sopra Sotto

They're lining up on The Drive for this casual Italian spot—but how's the vino?

August 22, 2018

By Neal McLennan / Photo: Sopra Sotto

The Spot: Sopra Sotto, the low-key casual Italian spot that’s quietly become a go-to spot on Commercial Drive.

The Theme: All Italian save for a few nods to some local Okanagan producers.

The First Impression: Very compact—just 24 bottles—but I want to order about 21 of them.

The Steal: This isn’t so much a wine list for finding a steal as it’s all quite fair (usually just a hair above 2x retail) across the board. The exception is the Altesino Brunello, an absolute beauty of a wine (if, quite a bit too young) that’s $100 here, but $59 at the BCLDB making it that rare under 2x mark-up. And it’s a great deal at the BCLDB so win-win kids. And if you’re in a lower price bracket, I have all the time in the world for the Argiolas Vermentino from Sardinia and at $40 (just barely 2x for $19 wine) I could crush bottle after bottle when the sun is out. Or when it’s not.

The Not So Much: I’m actually super-impressed that they resisted the urge to put a French Champagne on their sparkling list, instead keeping with the theme and offering a bottle of Franciacorta (a.k.a. the Champagne of Italy). It’s an inspired choice, but not a logical one so it’s beside me why they don’t it the same low mark-up treatment as the Altesino? The bottle they have from Crespia is $48 at the BCLDB but a rather punitive $120—a price that’s unlikely to entice the adventurous to dip their toe into high-end Italian sparkling.

Cool Factor Bottle: The Ribola Gialla from Jermann is peak hipster and a good value at $68. And the Lambrusco from Ermete is a $45 world of wonder, and it probably pairs well with every single thing on the menu.

The Head Scratcher: Nothing really. They don’t have a Barolo or a Barbaresco, but both are going to be be waaaay too young and so of the big name Italian wines they were right to go with the Brunello. Not having a Barbera or a Dolcetto at a place that serves a lot of pizza is a bit of crime, but I can live with it if it means someone is forced to try the Aglianico from Teodosio.

The Grade: A-. It’s a compact list but it’s got a good heart—it cover north to south really well, there’s no bad choices and nothing that’s priced punitively. What else can you ask for for a casual Italian spot?

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