“A celebration of Sherry, wine, food and friends!”
The mission statement of TapaVino is to focus primarily on wine as a drink. The food is designed merely to accompany the “simple yet tasty Spanish food” (as it should be in a Wine and Tapas Bar not the other way around) and they do this with style!
My recent visit to Tapavino, the new and very authentic Sherry and Wine Bar in Sydney’s Bulletin Place, started with a glass of Tio Pepe Fino sherry and a plate of Boquerones i.e. pickled anchovies which cost $12.00. It was quite an amazing combination which transported me back in time to my favourite “Barcelona hangouts” and brought back a “flood of memories”, including a trip to Jerez La Frontiera (a beautiful Iberian town, where the streets are incredibly lined with fragrant orange trees covered in fruit). This is the town where they make the “world famous but undervalued” Jerez otherwise known as sherry!
Tio Pepe is the world’s best known Fino sherry, produced from the Palomino grape variety grown on the chalky soils of Jerez in Spain. It is crisp, dry and fragrant and serves as an excellent aperitif and should be served well chilled!
But be warned, it is “not everyone’s cup of tea”, the taste “can be very dry and austere”!Sherry doesn’t have the immediate and simple appeal of a “tropical fruit driven” NZ Sauvignon Blancor a big “in Your face”Barossa Shiraz!
Rather Jerez or Sherry is an acquired Taste for those with a mature palate.
There are numerous types of sherry but the starting point is Fino which is a fantastic “palate cleanser”, it really refreshes the “taste buds” and is a superb partner to tapas (also known as Pintxos in Basque territory).
It is a classic aperitif and many agree that a chilled glass of fino or manzanilla is the perfect pre-dinner drink, and its nutty, tangy flavours are a “perfect match for most nibbles”.
Amontillado is also a good pre-dinner drink, but the rich oloroso is best as a mid-afternoon tipple – “almost a snack in itself”. “Sherry is also an incredibly food-friendly wine.”
Fino and manzanilla go well with seafood and fish, while amontillado is a simply inspired match for Jamon Serrano (or Jamon Iberico if You can afford it)!
There are several options for the smoked charcuterie such as the Rabbit morcilla, pork terrine “seared” to order corn & piquillo relish, toast (price $16.00) that we sampled here, including a marvellous new wave Spanish white from the Godillo grape!
Whilst a dry or medium oloroso works brilliantly with darker meats or gamy meats or stews. Try it!
Finally the super-sweet Pedro Ximenez known euphemistically in the trade and by aficionados as PX! It tastes like “liquid sultanas or Christmas pudding”andis delicious poured over ice-cream or served with rich chocolate, or even with the salty blue cheese Valdeon at the end of a meal.
Of course, to understand Spanish wine and gastronomy You need to get into the “Spanish soul and gastronomic way of life”. It requires “a few months traipsing around Spain” and a healthy bank account. One needs to visit the various wine regions including Rioja, Rias Baixas, Penedes, Toro, etc. Perhaps Extremadura to understand Jamon and Dried meats and sausages, and spend considerable time lounging around bars and restaurants, in Barcelona or Madrid, not to mention San Sebastian or Bilbao in the Basque country!
Even after numerous visits to such locations and some time living in Spain, I still wouldn’t class myself as an expert on Spanish gastronomy. That, on the other hand, is the “pleasure and challenge”!
However, if You do want to learn about the Spanish wines and food, then TapaVino is a “damn good place” to start the process!
For one thing, You can do a guided Sherry Tasting here, as they have over 60 sherries on offer. (To learn more about Sherry check out “Connoisseur’s Guide to Sherry”).
If You wish to try some of the new wave Spanish wines, there is no shortage of brilliant white (or red) wine varieties and regions. For anyone suffering “palate fatigue” from the often “tedious and repetitive” selection of Australian & NZ Sauvignon Blancs, Sem- Sav Blancs and Chardonnays Spain provides a refreshing change!
I often delight in my knowledge of the fantastic Spanish whites, the Albarino grape grown in Rias Baixas (in Galicia on the Atlantic) not far from the legendary Santa Compostile (El Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galiciain north-western Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the apostleSaint James are buried and is where the famous walk ends up). And ironically parts of this region on the Atlantic coast of Spain just above Portugal look remarkably Australian because of the ubiquitous eucalyptus trees!
The Albarino wine is a winner with Seafood, as is the exciting Godello grape variety from Valdeora also in Galicia. I tried this variety recently and was “blown away” by the exciting flavour profile (it tastes reminiscent of Chardonnay and is “Spain’s emerging hope as an equivalent to the great white Burgundies” according to the NY Times). Then there is the most delicious of verdejo wines, the Rueda which has burst onto the wine scene with deliciously fresh and fruity dry white wines from the region’s star grape Verdejo.(it seems more “zesty and lively then the Hunter Valley version).
Another recommendation is to try and the fuller bodied Rose wine made from the Mencia grape.
Of course, there are some great Reds on show! The “boom red” is clearly the Ribeiro del Duero which is drawing interest from Rioja, it is made from Tempranillo or Tinto Fino with a twist of “savouriness, leather, gaminess, tobacco leaf and fabulous length on the palate”! Perhaps the most famous names here are Vega Sicilia or Pesquera!
Incidentally You can also choose smaller Tapas dishes (actually the Spanish Tapas is called Pintxos in the Basque country, originally pinched onto a stick but now it more or less refers to most Tapas like dishes).
However, many of the dishes at TapaVino are designed to be “shared and to accompany and highlight the wines on offer!”
In addition the management have devised a system whereby You can order by the Glass (125ml) or a Carafe (250ml), which is equivalent to 2 full glasses, to facilitate the sharing process, or the still larger Carafe of 500ml!
If You choose a particular wine or style, Frank Dilernia, the owner, or the knowledgeable staff “will advise the best food match!”
Incidentally they also have a “daily blackboard list” of recommended combinations!
We tried and I can personally recommend the following dishes described below:
– Boquerones with a glass of Jereez Fino which cost $12.00
Stuffed piquilio peppers (3) with smoked mackerel $12.00
Jamon, fresh figs, ash mould goat’s cheese, Rabbit morcilla, pork terrine “seared” to order corn & piquillo relish, toast $16.00
Lentils with Roasted chickpeas, morcilla (blood sausage), scallops & chilli$16.00
Steamed Perch, piquilio peppers, egg, potato & sherry mayo $20.00
They were all “cocina nuova” modern style, reasonably priced and really “hit the spot” in terms of being tasty and “a good match for the wines on offer “!
The menu and food designed by chefs Renee Anderson and Anna Knight (both having spent time at Paddington’s Buzo) is clearly inspired by their passion for things Spanish, and the execution is impressive!
We finished off our tasting with Dulce de Lecce Tart $12.00and the Cava Mousse, macadamia brittle & fresh raspberries $10.00 and they were both “unctuous and delicious.” The double espresso was perfect too. (Next time I shall take a shot of Spanish Brandy too!)
This “modern and vibrant” bar is located just minutes from Circular Quay, the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the city’s buzzing nightlife. TapaVino offers a prime location for a tasting experience.
So if You “want to escape to Spain” and experience some authentic Spanish flavours, then Tapavino offers “a worthwhile escape”, even if it is only for a few hours!
6 Bulletin Place, Sydney
Reviewed by Axel Ritenis