An unbridled celebration of Italian wine and produce has landed in Yorkshire this winter.
Boasting around 300 varieties of wine, authentic artisan beers and fresh Italian food, Ipsum Vinoteca is aiming to become the go-to venue for a true taste of the continent.
It seems that there’s never been a better time to join the evergreen Leeds bar circuit and here Leeds-based Italian wine entrepreneur Andrea D’Ercole has attempted to add a new niche to what has become a diverse city offering.
Dedicated entirely to authentic Italy, this beech wood Latin library of bottles, situated in Duke Street neighbouring Leeds Bus Station and bars such as The Wardrobe, feels like the habitat of the expert connoisseur.
Stepping in from the St Peter’s Square entrance, you enter a stepped up broad bar space decked out with light wooden flooring and multiple units displaying endless bottles of wine, beer and Italian soft drinks. The shelving borders the whole venue, leading to a sectioned off 20-seat restaurant and only interrupted by bare brick wall columns and floor-to-ceiling windows out to the bustling city centre.
There are simplistic wrought iron and light wooden tables topped with glowing tea lights and matched with similarly minimalist stools under industrial grey hanging light shades.
The smell of fresh unvarnished wood dominates given that this place only opened its doors in November, but it really does harbour the feel of a wood-laden winery.
A metal-topped square wooden bar is a standout feature of the main bar space, offering a central island bedazzled with spirits and beneath are fridges cooling wines and bottled beers.
On our midweek evening visit, we were joined by a handful of punters chatting over a cooled bottle of white while a playlist featuring everything from The Eagles to the Sugarhill Gang helped add to the relaxed tone in here.
After a chat with the bar staff, it seems Ipsum Vinoteca’s owner is clearly set on a menu dedicated to Italian wine and bottled imported beers. You wont find mainstream Peroni or draught beers in here, while there are no cocktails.
With few dedicated wine bars in Leeds, this place is probably as strictly themed as they come. Competition comes through the likes of the Decanter, in Park Row, and Veeno, in Duncan Street, but neither seems as solely focused as Ipsum Vinoteca, which could be seen as a good or bad thing.
One thing is for sure, you’re going to get a real taste of Italy in here. You’re faced with walls of imported bottles, which might sound over facing but the staff here seem well briefed and are friendly and helpful in giving advice.
With over 300 varieties of wine to choose from we were recommended Verdicchio white wine as something fresh and light. The two 125ml glasses certainly delivered but did come in at a pricey £5.50 each. The addition of elderflower and ginger bottles of Italian J.Gasco soft drinks brought our bill came to an expensive £16. Having perused what is part wine shop, it should be said you can buy bottles for as little as £11 here.
It could certainly be seen as a haven for experts but this is by no means a snooty select bar, it’s open to all.
And with a baying audience coming into and out of the neighbouring West Yorkshire Playhouse, Ipsum Vinoteca certainly offers something new but it can come at a price.