If it’s one thing North Hobart has been missing, it’s a wine bar. Raincheck hints at being a wine bar, but it’s as much about eating as it is about drinking. On the Burnett Street corner, Onba gave it their best shot for awhile.
But there’s never really been a hip little vino joint until now.
The doors of Willing Bros Wine Merchants have opened and their inner workings are there for all to see.
The cellar is embedded in the wall next to exposed brick, incandescent globes hang in an art installation above your head, and tapas is prepared at the bar in front of you.
Willing Bros is a collaboration between Mr Personality, Jacob Nunn; Carl Windsor, Raincheck’s mastermind; and mixologist without peer, James Kingston.
They’ve delivered a comfortable contemporary bar befitting North Hobart. A space created by their own blood, sweat and tears. Literally. Windsor’s cast and pinned thumb is testament to their efforts (and if you think he looks bad, you should see the power tool he was using).
There is a solid representation of Spanish, Italian and French wines on the menu.
Like everything, wine drinking follows trends, developed through exposure to new experiences. The lighter varieties of Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris have become popular in recent years, there’s plenty of fresh interest in the Rose, and now Jacob Nunn tells us that the Albarino is the new Sauvignon Blanc.
So that’s what The Two Girls drank: Valdocea Albarino, $9.50 per glass and the Viura de Azul, $9 per glass. We snacked on spiced nuts and popcorn, rich with paprika, for $8, while we sipped our wine.
While Europe is a feature, truth be told, Willing Bros has chosen wines from far and wide; Bagdad, Barossa Valley and Burgundy. And just to prove the point, the boys who accompanied us went local. The Lovely Deputy chose the Derwent Estate Pinot Gris, $10 and The Boy About Town chose the Holyman Chardonnay from Gravelly Beach, $12.50.
It still got This Girl to thinking though.
It’s a fascinating conundrum in a food environment pushing locavore, minimising food miles, and marketing the Tasmanian brand.
I don’t know much about art wine but I know what I like. Tassie produces some full flavours and I’ve found the wines I’ve been drinking from the Continent are lighter and more subtle. I have to work harder to find their complexity. Maybe I’m a Philistine but I notice the difference. It’s like the sky is bigger in the southern hemisphere than it is in Europe, and so are the wines.
I wondered out loud about what to make of all this.
The trend towards European wines could be Tasmania’s coming of age, one crowd sourced suggestion came back. I like it.
It’s no cultural cringe. We just don’t have to flog the Tassie brand so much anymore. We’ve had our hand up, and now we can compete on the world stage as equals, kicking off our island parochialism.
This Girl is going to continue to delve into Romance vinos. Why not?
Bars like Willing Bros are a gift because they’re exposing our southern most capital city to something different. And it’s symptomatic of our global village where access to diverse experiences has grown exponentially.
I generally find European wines easy drinking. One or two exceptions have caused me to reflect though, ‘It’s not me, it is actually YOU’. That’s the thing about wine drinking isn’t it though? The more you drink wine, the more your palate develops and you learn what you like, what’s good, and what’s not so good.
Winning Bros is just the place to do it too, with affable advice and a relaxed modern atmosphere.
This much-needed North Hobart wine bar is perfect for pre-or post-dinner drinks, or just a lazy afternoon session with friends. Winning Bros is going to go gangbusters.
Tip: Willing Bros has disability access to the bar through the rear.
You can find them at 390 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart.