Located just off Plaza de la Reina in the Gothic section of the city of Valencia, snuggled within the tiny courtyard of La Plaza del Arzobispo sits Enopata – a two month old restaurant devoted exclusively to wine. On the first night of our three day trip to Valencia this past weekend, our hope was to discover a fun and wine centered location where a group of wine bloggers could gather to share our passion and stories about wine. And although none of us had either visited or heard much about Enopata, we banked on the sage advice of Joantxo Llantada, the Regional Tourism Director of Valencia, that this restaurant was worthy of impressing even the most knowledgeable of wine geeks.
With mustard yellow walls, exposed wooden beams and enormous photos of fall grape leaves, mounted on poster board and taken by the owner himself, Juan Ferrer Espinosa, Enopata embraces you as a warm, family run wine bar, rather than a sleek and modern wine alter. With waiters suited up in black with names like Maximo, and a shiny streamlined bar, its primary goal is not to impress, but to expand both our palates and our adoration of unique wines from around the world.
What makes Enopata so unique beyond the welcoming and cozy atmosphere shadowed by the enormous stone Cathedral sitting right outside its hidden doors? It prides itself on three cardinal wine rules:
All wines are available to the customer at 10 euros above cost.
All wines are served by the glass. And to figure out the price, take the cost of any bottle and divide it by 7. Therefore, a 49 euro bottle of wine can be served at 7 euros per glass.
All grapes, and styles, must be representative of the region’s traditions. Thus, you won’t find a monovarietal Gewurztraminer from Catalunya, or a Priorat wine made from Pedro Ximenez. We’re talking traditional grapes of the region made in traditional styles.
For a such a young restaurant, the service was noteworthy, the food was delicious and Juan showed a personality trait that wine lover’s crave: curiosity. After he brought a Manzanilla from Equipo Navazos, we asked the sommelier, and proprietor, to surprise us with a red he personally enjoyed. Passing out ten glasses, with an inky, red wine, Juan asked us to guess the region, the grape, and if we were lucky, the winery. Clos Dominic Seleccion Miriam 2006 from the Priorat was chosen, not only because they were one of the first wineries in Spain with a blog, but also because its an overall great wine that we all enjoyed.
Juan continued throughout the evening to surprise us with unique, and some rather bizarre, wines including: a Pinot Noir from Switzerland, a 1989 Loire Sweet Chenin Blanc, and a South African raisin wine. I can’t necessarily say for sure whether we enjoyed the evening solely as a result of various wines, or because of Juan’s continual twinkle in his eye curious as to whether we guessed accurately, but either way, it was great fun.
As for the food? It wasn’t too shabby either. As a group, we decided to order one of each appetizer they listed on the menu, including: Jamon Iberico, an assorted Spanish cheese plate, Bacalao al Pili Pili (a dish typical of Andalusia), an assorted embutido plate (various sausages, such as chorizo) and an assorted smoked fish plate, just to name a few. All of the dishes were flavorful, spaced in their serving so we weren’t stuck with all 8 large dishes crowding the table at once, and were presented with an explanation as to what we were eating.Ã‚Â The entrantes (appetizers) were followed by 3 main dishes, all served in the same Tapas style so that we could each experience a wide range of flavors. The Pork Cheeks, Rabo del Toro (Bull’s Tail) and Bacalhao (Salted Cod) created several soft utterings of satisfaction, and not surprisingly, disappeared rather quickly. Personally, I suggest the Rabo del Toro, which melted in my mouth leaving an incredibly sweet and slightly gamy flavor that paired beautifully with the remainder of my glass of Clos Dominic.
What makes a wine restaurant noteworthy? For me, it isn’t just an interesting wine menu, attentive service, good ambiance, intriguing food, but a passion to educate, a love for searching out hidden treasures, and beyond all else, a drive to sweep up your customers and take them on the journey with you. If you are in Valencia, take an evening and have a drink, or three, at Enopata. Explore their menu, and push your comfort zone to try wines that you know absolutely nothing about. You will not be bored by this wine menu like you will be in almost 90% of Spanish Restaurants. This one is full of surprises and hidden treasures, that you can experience all without breaking the bank.
Address: Plaza del Arzobispo 5 Izq. 46003 Valencia (Valencia) Spain
Telephone: +34 96 325 91 50
Enopata was originally known throughout Valencia as a wine shop founded in 2002 in the southwest part of the city. Unfortunately, Enopata hasn’t gotten around to updating their website, leaving many in our group severely confused when arriving to the front door of their wine shop, instead of their restaurant. We’re hoping that they’ll change this little glitch in their contact info in the near future, but for now, here is the correct information to visit their wine bar.