A Bridge Road intersection squeaking with braking trams and traffic is not a typically relaxing place. But at Fraek Vin, a new natural wine bar/bottle shop hybrid, you won’t notice that you’re just off the corner off Bridge and Burnley roads. Instead, it feels more like peeling off down a European laneway into a relaxed wine den. At least, that’s what owners Mitchell Nissen and Hayden Jackson are channelling. “We wanted it to be like sitting in a Parisian street having a short stem glass of bistro wine, a baguette in front of you, enjoying some people-watching,” says Nissen.
Fraek is completely committed to natural wine, with a globetrotting selection of minimal-intervention drops from everywhere from the Adelaide Hills to California and Denmark. Everything is served chilled, and the menu strives to be as “zero-zero as possible”, meaning minimal intervention from the winemaker with zero added (or removed) sulphates and commercial yeast. “To achieve a true zero-zero, the winemaker has to give it a lot of care,” Nissen says. For snacks, there’s a compact menu of bread and butter, “orgasmic eggs” cooked low and slow, and cheeses – but the focus remains sternly on the wine.
The space is simple and stylish, with rough exposed bricks, wine-lined shelves, and dim lighting emanating from Noguchi-style ceiling lamps. There’s a custom U-shaped table designed to keep tastings engaging and communal. It’s a little bit like when your primary school teacher arranges the desks into a horseshoe, and you knew you were in for a fun lesson. Through towards the courtyard out back, there’s a cellar where you can grab a bottle to go, or uncork and unwind on-site. Plus, there are plans to open an Airbnb upstairs.
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Fraek is a Danish word (pronounced "freck") that translates to something like “naughty” – which defines both the bar and Nissen and Jackson’s approach to wine. “It’s naughty, it’s fun, and not to be taken too seriously or overwhelm anyone,” says Nissen. “These are the wines we want to drink and how we want to drink them.”