In the 1955 children’s book, Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf, titular Polly defeats aforementioned stupid wolf with a combination of nous, pluck and good cheer. Being especially un-stupid kids, Lou Chalmer and her brother Cam Beatty, saw in the fable an analogy for the struggle between small, independent winemakers and their mass-produced competitors.
Named in honour of the sensible young hero of this tale, the duo’s new bottleshop and bar offers a range of natural wines, craft beers and unpasteurised sake. By and large, Clever Polly’s booze is free of additives and preservatives, and is made with minimal interventions during the fermentation process. “I think that natural wines are much more transparent,” says Chalmer, a graduate of Gertrude Street Enoteca and a bachelors degree in environmental science. “The winemaker does all the work in the vineyard, but for the winemaking process they take a slightly hands-off approach.”
Besides being less likely to give drinkers a headache, Chalmer believes natural wines allow a truer appreciation of a wine’s terroir. “With natural wines you tend to get more of a sweet and savoury balance,” she says.
Wines by producers such as Lucy Margaux, Tom Shobbrook and Patrick Sullivan, along with orange wines from France and Italy, are available by the bottle. A select range is available by the glass, as are seasonal craft beers. Filter coffee from Small Batch is on offer, as are some elegant small dishes such as a morcilla nori roll with blood-plum sauce or wallaby carpaccio with macadamia and apple.
The smart new West Melbourne local has a clean wood and whitewashed fit-out and makes wonderful use of the former Hound Dog’s Bop Shop, lord rest its rockin’ socks. Let’s hope Clever Polly is around just as long.
313 Victoria Street, West Melbourne
Tues to Sun 12pm–11pm