Wine bars in their prime

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

Wil­liam St, Apothe­cary in Ade­laide, Harry & Frankie in Mel­bourne and Must in Perth go from strength to strength while a new breed pushes the con­cept in ever more in­trigu­ing di­rec­tions.

Beardy wine­maker Taras Ochota has a hit on his hands with Lost in a For­est in the Ade­laide Hills. The hugely re­spected Mark Protheroe (ex Grossi Flo­rentino) is al­ready do­ing great things at the brand new bar, bistro and bot­tle shop in Fitzroy North fit­tingly called The Recreation. And James Hird — no, not that one — has bro­ken funky new ground with the au­tonomous and in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic Wine Room within the heav­ing newly re­fur­bished Dol­phin Ho­tel in Sydney’s Surry Hills.

The trend of top som­me­liers be­com­ing wine bar pro­pri­etors has its epi­cen­tre in Mel­bourne, with some of the coun­try’s finest hang­ing out the shin­gle in gritty in­ner-city lo­cales. ExRock­pool stal­wart David Lawler, the man the wine trade calls Mr In­tegrity, has part­nered with the equally savvy Tim Sack­lin (ex-Rosetta) to open Comp­toir in Colling­wood, while Banjo Har­ris Plane has swapped the rar­efied air of At­tica for the spray-canned streets of Fitzroy and is do­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary things at Bar Lib­erty.

An­tic­i­pated open­ings slated for this year in­clude the crew from Sydney’s Es­ter open­ing a stand-alone bar, while Andrew Cibej, the brains be­hind ground­break­ing Surry Hills es­tab­lish­ments Mille Vini and 121 BC, is well ad­vanced with plans for a vino-drenched trat­to­ria in Sydney’s CBD.

Mel­bourne new­comer Comp­toir in Colling­wood

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