Monopole is a sleek, European-style wine bar with a predilection for biodynamic and rare wines. Biodynamic newbies should put their faith in a super fresh glass of the Mas d’Espanet Eolienne grenache blanc, or the sour cherry kick of a nebbiolo from Piedmont’s Bruno Rocca. Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt’s menu takes a global outreach that will appeal to both proud wine snobs and curious samplers.
71A Macleay Street, Potts Point, Australia, +61 2 9360 4410
Love, Tilly Devine
Love, Tilly Devine is named for the infamous gang maiden who once ruled the streets of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. The wine list here is a diverse range of unusual bottles from the more neglected regions of the wine world; as long as it tastes great, it has a place on Tilly’s menu. The knowledgeable staff will gladly guide patrons through their 300+ varieties of wine (sorted under broad stylistic headings), so you’ll have plenty of help exploring unfamiliar labels. Try the dry orange fiano from Cantina Giardino in Campania; the light, acidic Bourgogne Aligoté from Burgundy; and Balland, coteaux du Giennoux ‘Les beaux Jours’ gamay pinot noir.
Address and telephone number: 91 Crown Ln, Darlindhurst NSW 2011, Australia, +61 2 9326 9297
The Wine Library
The Wine Library is a Woollahra stalwart squeezed in between the boutiques of Oxford Street, melding a high-end bar at the front, a trim courtyard in the middle, and several intimate nooks at the back. There’s even a working beehive on the roof and a glass-walled cured meat room. The wine list bears the fruit of the owners’ global adventures: patrons can sample glasses of Provencale rose, venture for an uncommon bottle of 2008 Domaine Henri Milan ‘Le Grand Blanc’, or even sample the Channing Daughters Meditazione, an ambitious blend of eight grape varieties: muscat ottonel, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, Tocai Friulano, semillon, aligoté, and viognier. The best time to browse this wine compendium is at lunchtime; at night you’ll be battling long lines for a taste of their (admittedly impressive) dinner menu.
18 Oxford St, Woollahra, Australia, +61 2 9360 5686
10 William Street
10 William Street is a hole-in-the-wall gem that some potential patrons might carelessly walk right past, owing to its subtle shopfront. This under-the-radar allure carries over to the interior, which is blessedly free of pretension with its stripped-down aesthetic of white walls, bare bulbs, and a big black chalkboard placing the focus squarely where it belongs: on the wine. 10 William Street has a strong penchant for raw, wild Italian wines. Sommelier Matt Young and owners Giovanni and Enrico Paradiso and Marco Ambrosino have composed a wine list of powerfully rich character, but still varied enough to win over even the most seasoned connoisseurs. Consider the Cirelli trebbiano from Abbruzzo, the distinguished 2001 G. Quintarelli Valpolicella, the gentle Thick as Thieves pinot noir from the Yarra Valley, or the Domaine Lucci orange sauvignon blanc.
10 William St, Paddington NSW, Australia, +61 2 9360 3310
Fix St James
One of the few wine bars in Sydney’s CBD, Fix St James is an important benchmark located near David Jones. Fix is set up semi-restaurant style with bare tables and banquette seating, a fitting frame for their simple, seasonal food menu (dishes include the 1.5-kilo Coorong Angus T-bone and the duck, rabbit and sausage cassoulet). By the glass options include the 2009 Dard & Ribo Marsanne, the Brash Higgins Nero D’Avola red, and the Quealy Friulano white. The best wine and meal pairing on the menu, according to Knox himself, is the chocolate ‘Yogo’ with Hamilton’s Bluff Dolce Nero.
111 Elizabeth St, Sydney, Australia, +61 2 9232 2767
121BC is half wine shop, half wine bar, and wholly satisfying. Their focus is squarely on Italian wines. Every vintage is hand-picked by sommelier Giorgio De Maria, who is quick to lead his staff in assisting customers every step of the way, helping you choose from their prolific selection and explaining the ins and outs of your drink. One notable selection in recent rotations is the Alvas by Panevino, an orange wine from Sardinia blending local vermentino, nuragus, semidano, vernaccia and retallada grapes. Customers can buy this bottle and many others in the store, or drink on the premises for a small surcharge. Competition for seats after 7pm is hotly contested as the bar area itself only seats around 20.
4/50 Holt St, Surry Hills, Australia, +61 2 9699 1582
Timbah is a bustling neighborhood wine bar on Forsyth Street in Glebe (just down the road from its sibling, the Little Bottle Shop of Glebe). Timbah runs its nightly menu on a revolutionary concept: the first 10 people to order wine on any night choose the ten bottles that will be served by the glass for that night. The relaxed setting helps to foster an unpretentious coziness, with decorations of Spanish style wine skin hanging off the hat stand, fairy lights above the bar, colorful throw cushions on the caramel-toned banquettes, and plenty of artwork warming up the walls. In addition to the 10 wines, Timbah features two craft beers on tap as well as a variety of bottled beers and ciders.
u1/375 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe, Australia, +61 2 9571 7005