Christmas got in the way of a few things. A visit to the Berkelouw Wine Bar was one of them. It's a wine bar with a twist though. Every season they source wines from a different area throughout Australia to promote them and to bring them to the attention of wine loving Sydney siders. This Summer it's wines from Orange and in Autumn they will feature wines from the Murray region and in Winter, the Hilltops region.
The room is a good sized rectangular space lined with bookshelves. At one end is the bar area and dotted throughout are various types of comfortable chairs. We like the look of the elegant Louis XIVth style chaises and Christie and I park ourselves there. There are tasting plates as well as wines to try as a good range of wines. The tables have custom built thermals sleeves to help keep bottles of wine at an optimum temperature.
_Small Acres Norfolk Still Cyder
We take their recommendation for wines and they show us the Small Acres Still Cyder which I recall driving past on our trip to Orange. Now I haven't had much cider in my life but Christie is a fan so I take a sip. It's delicious and ideal for those that don't really like a strong bitter tasting alcoholic drinks. I down the whole glass in no time (and I rarely finish glasses of wine).
_2008. Gewürztraminer: Wine Maker's Daughter $11.00 by the glass in front of one of the table's thermal metal sleeves
Our next wine is the Gewürztraminer from Borrodel Winery. I'll admit now I'm not one to be able to smell obscure things in wine and I'm really bad at that whole "I can smell tobacco and a left handed man in this wine" but I can say that I really enjoyed it and it is said to have a baked apple aroma which I could see as I found it quite similar to the cyder which is apple flavoured.
Two cheese platter $16.00
Our rectangular tasting plates arrive to accompany the wine. We've chosen a soft and a hard cheese starting with the cow's milk Tasmania Heritage brie and the award winning Maffra cheddar. The brie is wonderfully runny and the handmade cheddar is rich and almost sweet. We're not wildly in love with the olives which look nice and large but he olive oil is nice and grassy and I'm happy to see includes Sonoma's olive bread (although I much prefer this bread warmed). We both agree that we would have loved to have seen something sweet like quince paste which goes so well with both these cheeses or some muscatels or figs.
Piano Plate $28.00
The romantically named Piano Plate comes with two arancini balls resembling more pyramids than oranges ("arancia" is Italian for orange as the fried rice balls resemble oranges). One is filled with seasoned rice with carrots and peas ricotta and mozarella which pulls apart appealingly.
The other arancini is filled with a bolognese type filling with feta and roasted peppers. They're good, particularly the ricotta and mozarella one. The hummous is nice and garlicy but I don't really go for the vinegary mushrooms as I'm not a champignon fan.
Authors Dish $18
Our favourite tasting plate featured baked ricotta served with hazlenuts with truffle honey. The thickly fruited bread is cut into small pieces and is wonderfully moist and goes with the baked ricotta very well. I lament my lack of stomach space as I could have happily feasted on this plate.
Homemade Tiramisu, pannacotta ($10 each) and Blueberry tart $4
We make some room for dessert (of course!). There's a selection of homemade tiramisu which is nice but could use a dash more alcohol and coffee. The Pannacotta comes with a topping of whipped cream and is served in the glass. The flavour is good but it is a bit too firm. The Blueberry tart centre is good but the outside tart shell reminds me of old fashioned custard tarts whereas I was hoping for a buttery shell.
The whole point is to sit and eat and drink and it turns 6 o'clock before we notice that we've been here for two and a half hours. Catching up on girly gossip is important work and best done with a glass of cyder or wine.
So tell me Dear Reader, what's your favourite tipple?
NQN and Christie dined as guests of Berkelouw Wine Bar.
Berkelouw Wine Bar
Level 1, 70 Norton Street, Leichhardt, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9560 3200
Opening Hours: Thursday to Sunday 1pm-10pm