Style of establishment: Wine Shop
Price by the glass – €3.90 to €4.90
Price by the bottle – €18 to €69
Address – Carrer Antic de Sant Joan, 3, 08003 Barcelona
Phone number – 932 68 19 87
Opening Hours – 7pm – 2am, Monday to Sunday
One of my favourite wine bars over the last two years has really come into its own recently; Eldiset, formally known as Disset Graus, was opened in 2012 by the Cuasnicú family and since then, has gone from strength to strength. The name Disset Graus is literally ’17 degrees’ in Catalan, so named due to the preferred temperature of serving mature red wine. Due to a problem with registering the name, the bar changed to Eldiset, a play on the same name, and started to become well known for its excellent wine, cocktails and tapas.
However, the big change for Eldiset didn’t come with the name, but with the focus on Catalan products. Previously, wine was served here from a few, disparate places such as Spain, Argentina and France with nothing linking the food, wine and concept together. Then in November 2013, Alex Sanchez joined as the head sommelier and brought with him a strong passion for Catalan wines as well as formal training from CETT, the university for tourism, hospitality and gastronomy. Now, there’s not a lot of bars and restaurants in Barcelona that employ sommeliers with any level of salary as the wine culture here is still quite embryonic and there’s not a lot of disposable income sloshing around the city in general. A strong move then by Eldiset, given the circumstances, and one that’s paid off. It didn’t come as much as a surprise to discover that Alex’s mentor in the world of Catalan wines is Miguel Figini, a local expert in Catalan wines, co-founder of a Catalan wine school and a lovely man in general. It goes a long way to explain Alex’s passion for locally produced wines and thankfully, this rubs off on Eldiset in a very obvious way!
The Wine List
Every glass or bottle of wine in Eldiset is sourced from one of the 10 wine producing Denominación d’Origen’s located within Catalunya. This is a smart move by Eldiset for a few reasons. First and foremost, there’s an awful lot of delicious wine in Catalunya and for a bar with around 60 references by the glass and by the bottle, there’s simply no need to move outside of these 10 regions. From the concentrated, powerful wines of Priorat to vibrant Cava from Sant Sadurni d’Anoia and all manner of innovative wines from the Penedes, wine lovers in Cataluyna are somewhat spoilt for choice! Secondly, and all politics aside, it makes sense to drink locally. You can connect with local cultures and grape varieties, as well as having the option to go and visit the winery on a day trip should you so wish to. It’s also a way of sustaining local business, something that is becoming increasingly important in a busy, cosmopolitan city like Barcelona.
The actual list itself changes every 6 months or so, completely changing the wines available by the glass and most of the wines by the bottle. There’s typically 15-20 wines available by the glass and 30-40 by the bottle, with a separate section for ‘natural’ wines, or wines produced in a minimal intervention style. The wines are a nice collection of modern and traditional wines, with a mixture of most Catalan wine regions. The wines at the lower end command a slightly higher mark-up but are well chosen and represent good value for money, whilst the 2-3 pricier bottles are personal favourites and also some of the very best wines available in Catalunya. 5 Partides, Teixar and Clos Mogador? Sign me up! Most of the wines command around a 40-100% mark-up from retail pricing but there are one or two ‘bargains’ for those seeking it out. It’s very rare to see anyone spending any amount of money on a bottle of Cava, and so they still have a few bottles of Recaredo’s superb Familia Reserva 2005 available for €50 – €5 less than retail price. Take advantage of their very generous 25% discount for bottles bought and taken away and you have yourself a veritable bargain!
Top picks from their current line-up:
Cava – Recaredo Familiar Reserva 2005 – As mentioned above; expensive but stunning. Old vine Xarel.lo and Macabeo aged for 10 years on its lees before disgorgement; a special wine to be enjoyed at leisure and make sure to do so in a white wine glass; the beauty of this wine will be lost in a flute.
White – Raventos I Blanc Silencis 2015 – At the lower end of the price scale at €22 euros a bottle, this is a delicious, vibrant and incredibly fresh expression of Xarel.lo from one of the most exciting projects in Catalunya at the moment.
Red – Cal Batllet Diatra 2013 – The baby brother of 5 Partides, at €23 euros a bottle in a restaurant this is terrific value. Smoky, dark and very Priorat. Perhaps not an ideal companion for the summer months, but the air-conditioned interior of Eldiset allows a temporary reprieve from the heat, so why not!
Eldiset is a small but organised bar, split evenly between the front and the back. Very simply, the front is designed for not much than 30 persons and has more of a casual approach; high stools set around the bar itself, 3-4 small tables and one larger table. The back by comparison is where you’d want to go for a longer experience such as dinner, as the seating is lower, more comfortable and the tables set a touch more formally. In total I wouldn’t imagine that the whole bar seats much more than 50-60 persons when completely full, but late at night it’s common to see additional groups standing by the bar waiting for a table to free up, so it can get quite crowded! The décor is modern but really quite restrained, with lots of wood, cream colours and mercifully in Barcelona, air conditioning. The (very) small kitchen is behind the bar itself and the space has been maximised really as much as possible.
Now we come onto the other major part of Eldisets success; excellent food at reasonable prices, served unpretentiously. The star of the show here are the ‘Torradas’ or ‘Tostadas’, which is essentially a flat, crispy bread with different toppings. Eldiset serve a whopping 15 different styles of these torradas, with each being a carefully constructed flavour combination. Personal favourites include the guacamole, parmesan cheese and chilli peppers torrada, or for a sweet-touch try the raspberry jam, blue cheese and green apple torrada, finished with roasted crushed nuts. They’re served in pairs on a black slate and are ideal for sharing, so if you go with a friend/partner, order two and try both!
Aside from that, there is a smaller section for more traditional foods including plates of Iberian ham, cheese, octopus and other items. Whilst these can be very nice, the delicious torradas for me are what defines Eldiset and also represents the best value for money. Having said that, the salmon tartar with ginger is quite lovely and pairs beautifully with a glass of Sumoll. There’s also a pairing menu option that I haven’t had the pleasure of trying yet, serving 4 courses with 4 glasses of wine for €39.
Eldiset is probably the best wine bar in the Born at the moment, and certainly one of the best in the city. Now it’s becoming better known it’s increasingly more difficult to wander in and grab a space at the bar, but it’s well worth booking a table, bringing a friend or two and turning into the focus of the evening itself. There’s not many places where a combination of excellent, well priced local wine and food go together so readily and when friends visit from the UK, it’s often one of the first places I take them to. I’m already looking forward to visiting for an evening this August and as always, I get particularly excited when it comes to the changing of their wine list. Keep your eyes peeled this Autumn for some new and delicious wines coming to their menu. Make sure to read the tips below and go enjoy an evening at Eldiset!
Eldiset is not a large place and the tables book up quickly, especially those at the back. Make sure to call and book a table at least a day in advance to avoid disappointment; reservations are only taken by phone but fear not, the staff all speak a good level of English.
Failing the above, go early. Eldiset gets very busy from 9pm onwards but from 7-9, it tends to be quite subdued. Ideal for an early dinner and better yet, to interact with the staff a little.
This is likely to be a tip in every entry I make into Barcelona By the Glass, but make sure to ask for help if you’re not sure about the wine, food or pairing. Not every member of staff has formal wine education but they all know the wines they serve well, as well as which food to match it with.
The first time I visited Eldiset and went to use the bathroom, I assumed the door was locked as it looks like a sliding door and…well.. it wouldn’t slide. Don’t be silly like me and give it a good push instead. Looks can be deceiving!
As is so often the case, the more expensive wines tend to be the better value when ordering by the bottle, with a much lower mark-up vs retail prices. If you’re going to order a bottle to share, consider trading up a bit and getting more bang for your buck.