Adelaide’s Riot Wine Co has teamed up with Palmer Hospitality (the group behind Arkhe, Paloma and 2KW) to open a “spiritual home” in the city – Bar Riot – in the space previously occupied by Madre. But it’s not just a cellar door for the Riot brand; co-founder Tom O’Donnell is pitching it as a neighbourhood bar, with 14 Riot wines on tap alongside an international wine list and a Spanish- and South American-inflected menu by former 2KW executive chef Trent Lymn.
“We could have gone in any direction. We could have had a cellar door in McLaren Vale, or a tasting room in the city. But that’s not my brand,” says O’Donnell. “I wanted to replicate where I’ve seen Riot work best in practice around the country. And that is in a great food and wine setting, with good operators. We’re not plastering the branding all over the wall. It’s very much a friendly, neighbourhood, tasty, easy, fresh vibe.”
The forward-thinking wine label launched in 2016, inspired by the tap-wine boom in the US. Its first release was a rosé – still the label's flagship product – in a stainless-steel keg. In 2017 the label started canning its wines, before opening a cellar door – The Cannery – in Brompton in 2019, where all of the canning and kegging is done. (All the wines are stored in reusable stainless-steel kegs and packaged in recyclable aluminium cans, both of which maintain the wine’s freshness by protecting it from light, oxygen and heat.) The brand was later sold to Carlton & United Breweries (CUB).
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“The Cannery is more of a production space, with a little bit of hospitality,” says O’Donnell. “We really wanted to ramp up the hospitality side of the business … and in doing that we wanted to team up with some pros who actually know how to run a bar, rather than me pretending I know what I’m doing,” he laughs.
Enter Simon Adami, the general manager of Palmer Hospitality, who first met O’Donnell when 2KW began pouring Riot Wines out of its kegs back in 2017. He’s brought on Lymn as executive chef to create a menu of share plates steeped in Spanish and South American flavours. Lymn and his Argentinian-born wife Cecilia Teigeiro previously ran a cafe in Buenos Aires, before he took over the kitchen at 2KW, and Teigeiro has come on board here as head chef.
They'll be plating up pintxos; pig's head croquettes; pan catalan (pan-fried sourdough with tomato and garlic); Coffin Bay Berrima octopus escabeche; sardine skewers with jamon iberico; grilled beef tongue skewers with pineapple and fermented jalapeno chilli sauce; and more.
“Trent's background is [in] Argentinian, Latin American [food], that’s his forte. And the brief was: keep it simple, let the produce talk, don’t complicate it,” says Adami.
As for the drinks, Bar Riot will act as an “incubator” for new-release Riot wines, which will pour there first, before any other venue. (The bar will launch next month alongside three new canned spritzes: classic, berry and lemon.) O’Donnell describes the wines as, “light, fun, fast, fresh, easy, accessible – rosé, pinot grigio, even our red wines are really light and bright and fresh,” he says. “The benefit of that is there’s a mix of foods they can go with. I describe them as lunchtime wines: you can have a few glasses and your legs still work.”
There'll also be 30-odd international wines by the bottle that are, according to O’Donnell, “the best examples” of varieties around the world. Think gruner veltliner from Austria, malbec from Argentina, and rosé from Provence (including a bottle of Domaine Tempier, which O'Donnell has tattooed on his leg).
A centrepiece of the venue will be a 1000-litre stone “wine vase” filled with an exclusive Riot grenache-shiraz blend that will be available for customers to fill a flagon to take away. The blend will continue to evolve as it gets topped up with fresh wine.
“Wine on tap is still challenging for a lot of people,” says Adami. “But I think the movement is moving forward quickly and I think this will be an example of breaking down that barrier for people. We’re serious operators with serious food concepts, but we want it to be fun and accessible.”
Bar Riot will open in mid-December at 57 Gilbert Street, Adelaide.