Sommelier’s Choice

Louella Mathews, Head Sommelier, Bibo Wine Bar

7 Bay St, Double Bay, NSW,

Moving from regional Australia to a major city can be a daunting experience, but when Louella Mathews transplanted herself from the Orange wine region where she grew up to the big smoke of Sydney, she met someone who would inspire her to go on to great things.

“Emma Plumridge was Head Sommelier at Rockpool on George when I first moved to Sydney. She was from the country as well and made me realise I could become the sommelier I am today with perseverance.”

Now, Mathews is the Head Sommelier at Bibo Wine Bar in the Sydney suburb of Double Bay, celebrating her third year at the contemporary Mediterranean venue, and is even making her own wine with her best friend from back home, Nadja Wallington.

“Nadja grew up on a winery where I would stay regularly and help during harvest. It was also here that I learned to appreciate good food and wine around the dinner table. We have come full circle and decided to make a wine at Wallington Winery on their 20th anniversary.”

The list that Mathews has created at Bibo has a strong focus on Portuguese wines and museum Australian reds, but that’s not to say that’s all she’s been able to fit on the list.

“We have access to a private cellar, but also have the freedom to cover a lot of wines from around the world from classic to up and coming.”

The Head Chef at Bibo, Jose Silva, is well known from his days at Guillaume Brahimi’s Guillaume at Bennelong restaurant. When that relocated, Silva bought Sweet Belem in Petersham, which is now famous for its Portuguese pastries, and which has given Mathews the opportunity to create some pretty exciting food and wine pairings.

“My favourite match is the Justino’s 10 Year Old Sercial Madeira with our flambé chorizo, but I’m also a sucker for a Sweet Belem Portuguese tart and a glass of Henriques & Henriques Rainwater Madeira.

Mathews says NSW wine is the next big thing. “People are always searching for the next big thing overseas, but I think it’s in our backyard.”

Photography by Franz Scheurer