Sam Winfield is worried about getting high off his own supply. With the opening of his much-anticipated William Street natural-wine bar Wines of While again running into delays, the would-be publican finds himself surrounded by boxes and boxes of the highly drinkable, minimal-intervention wines he’ll be pouring at his bar.
“I’m chomping at the bit to get into them,” he admits of being surrounded by part of the bar’s 1000-bottle inventory.
He’s not the only one counting down to the opening of the 50-person bar. For drinkers that have bent the elbow at cult wine bars such as Embla (Melbourne), 10 William St (Sydney) or P. Franco (London), the idea of having a similarly casual, unstuffy natural-wine stronghold in Perth city limits is reason to cheer.
“We’ll be focussing on wines made as naturally as possible that are real,” he says. “Just as people want to know about the provenance of their food, they also want a greater connection with their wine and know where it came from.”
The opening list will feature 200 bottles with around a dozen wines available by the glass. All the wines are available to takeaway or – with a $15 corkage fee – can be drunk at the bar. Food will also be served with small plates of wine-friendly dishes (think cheese and charcuterie) offered alongside a changing dinner plate that might be pasta one night and porchetta the next.
The bar’s fit-out will also be built for comfort and feature native woods such as jarrah and stringybark. Guests inside will be seated around a communal table with the majority of seating available in the alfresco area on William Street.
To help pass the time before Wines of While opens, Winfield has recommended five autumnal wines that represent his bar’s spirit and where to buy them. Grab some friends and broaden your drinking horizons.
Domaine Mămărutá Le Vin de Ma Cocotte 2014 (Languedoc, France)
An incredible natural wine made of carignan from 120-year-old vines that will fill that shiraz-sized hole in your heart. Perfumed, savoury and will sit on the couch with you all winter long. Grown organically and minimal sulphur used only at bottling.
Available from Boatshed Wine Loft, Cottesloe ($55).
Sam Vinciullo – Red/White 2017 (Margaret River, Australia)
Pure, energetic and completely natural wine from local boy Sam whose half-merlot, half-semillon blend celebrates fastidious farming. Open after a half hour in the fridge and it’ll be empty before dinner.
Available from The Re Store, Leederville ($31.95).
Ampeleia Un Litro 2016 (Tuscany, Italy)
It may come by the litre but by the end you’ll be wishing Elisabetta Foradori, the godmother of Italian winemaking, filled a whole magnum. Epic drinkability here from alicante nero, alicante bouschet and carignano making a cuddly, generous wine with enough spikes of spice, tannin and acid to keep things interesting. This screams for a chilled tumbler, some grilled flank steak and a little torn bread for the juices.
Available from Boatshed Wine Loft, Cottesloe ($37).
Sepp and Maria Muster Opok 2015 (Austria)
Autumn in Perth will surely throw up a few warmer days, perfect for hanging in a park with a bottle of something crisp, dry and aromatic. Sepp and Maria Muster are among a throng of passionate Austrian winemakers making incredible natural wines, as demonstrated by this biodynamic white blend. There’s grapefruit, gooseberry and minerality for days, balanced by moreish oxidative features.
Drink at Must Winebar, Highgate ($80).
Patrick Sullivan Waterskin 2017 (Gippsland, Australia)
A crisp sunset by the ocean will play right into the hands of this beautiful, savoury orange wine. Patrick Sullivan of the Baw Baw Shire in Gippsland, Victoria combines fresh semillon and sauvignon blanc that’s spent a month on skins to create a saline, crunchy and aromatic wine with none of that orange-wine funk. That lick of salt, seaspray and savoury fruit snuggles up perfectly with a bundle of fish and chips. Don’t forget the crabstick.
Available at Gangemi’s Fine Wines and Food, West Perth ($60).
Wines of While opens in late June.
Wines of While
458 William Street, Perth
Tue to Thu & Sun 10am–late
Fri & Sat 10am–12am