It used to be hard to find any kind of wine bar in the Valley. Then Grape Therapy (now Proud Henry, a “ginoteca”) and Baedeker moved in. Mr Chester, though, took things to a whole new level. This isn’t a bar with a decent selection covering old-world and new, but a dedicated wine bar where the only other drinks available are one beer, two whiskies and two gins. Even the food, thoughtfully curated as it is, takes a back seat.
After years working as a sommelier and dabbling in restaurant design in Melbourne, co-owner Luke Reimers moved north and teamed up with Wayne Murphy to tackle his own venue. The Church Street location might seem a little out of the way, but make sense when you realise the Alpha Mosaic Apartments are upstairs, James Street is a stone’s throw away and Happy Boy is just around the corner.
The space is clean with polished concrete and moody lighting. Both communal tables and pairs are available, the alternative a relatively low-set, welcoming bar.
Eschewing the bigger wine distributors, Reimers and Murphy peddle a rotating list from a wide range of winemakers, separated into light, medium, full and skin contact. Reimers says more than 220 wines were involved in the research phase to compile a selection that includes Alpha Box & Dice, Mac Forbes and Koerner.
The food is kept simple to complement the wines. Rather than pouring over menus, Reimers prefers to make informed decisions based on the wine you’ve ordered – say, a Beal & Co chenin blanc paired with the chicken and pistachio terrine.
Cheese selections tend towards the exotic – try a 36-month aged parmigiano-reggiano paired with Bee One Third honeycomb – and a former high-profile Sydney chef named “Juliana” supplies handmade pates and terrines.
2/850 Ann Street (Enter from Church Street), Fortitude Valley
Wed to Mon 4pm–late
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