After finding out where Sydney’s top bartenders go for cocktails, for this instalment we sat down with the city’s finest sommeliers and bartenders to ask about wine.
If you hand your glass over to these experts, you’ll be wanting to give Where’s Nick, 10 William Street, Dear Sainte Éloise, The Dolphin Hotel and Fred’s a go.
Mattia Dicati – sommelier at 10 William Street
Dicati is the sommelier at what is arguably the city’s top Italian wine bar – 10 William Street. When he’s not pouring natural wine in Paddington, he pulls up a pew at Momofuku Seiobo because it ticks all the boxes in food, service and wine.
“I go to Momofuku generally with a friend or two. We try to go early, just before they open, so we can secure seats at the bar. Generally, we order all the items from the bar menu and we start hunting inside the wine list for some old or rare bottles. I focus my attention on wines from the Burgundy and Jura regions. Names like Cossard, Domaine Valette, Pacalet, Ganevat and Overnoy are on my top list. Then there are all the wine icons from Loire like Clos Rougeard and Didier Dagueneau. Also from Italy, a bottle of Valentini trebbiano is generally a great option.”
Dicati also likes to start his Sundays in the wine room at The Dolphin Hotel. “It’s a very good place for a quick aperitivo or a casual night with friends. The list shares basically all the wine we love and work with [at 10 William Street] and is always up-to-date with the new winemakers, selling freshly unloaded shipments from overseas,” he says. Dicanti begins with a beer on tap or an Americano. “Light white wine, orange wine or a chilled red are the first options with pizza and snacks. Funky Italian orange wines like Cantina Giardino Paski or Farnea as they are a great match Birbo are a good start.”
Another favourite is Where’s Nick in Marrickville. “If it was in my suburb, it would be the perfect everyday stop. There are big wine shelves on the wall, with a great selection from all around the world for very reasonable prices. Last time I drank a very good bottle of lesser-known Burgundy chardonnay from Jean-Marie Berrux Tetu.”
Dicati chooses wine by the glass at Dear Sainte Éloise. “They always have very interesting options, especially from young, minimum-intervention Aussie winemakers. By the glass, I would drink wines from Manon Farm, Commune of Buttons and my good friend Tom Shobbrook. By the bottle, it’s Domaine Mosse savennieres or a delicious and very limited De Moor chablis.”
Fred’s also has a very well-balanced list, according to Dicati. “[They have] some 'old school' wineries, classic mass-liked wine and new minimum-intervention wines. I would pick some Austrian wines like Werlitsch Ex Vero II or a nice crunchy Moraza Tempranillo from Spain.”
80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
The Dolphin Hotel
412 Crown Street, Surry Hills
236 Marrickville Road, Marrickville
Dear Saint Éloise
Shop 5, 29 Orwell Street, Potts Point
Ben Wainwright – bar manager at The Newport
Living in Newport means Wainwright has been “pushed to search out the less commonly known venues for a glass of wine.”
A favourite Sunday night spot for Wainwright is the family-owned restaurant on Blue’s Point Road, Piato. “It’s always so welcoming and familiar. Their wine menu sees a strong influence of Greek winemaking, with a flickering of options from Spain and Italy. I always like to finish the night with a glass of their Muscat of Samos.”
“Kipling’s Garage Bar on Sydney’s North Shore has an award-winning wine list that I am often tempted by when looking for premium wine by the glass and a small bite to eat.” His go-to here is the Chateau Mont Redon chateauneuf-du-pape (2011). And maybe a sneaky mushroom-and-truffle arancini.
“When I get a chance to cross the bridge, I can’t go passed my all-time favourite and one of the most comfortable and hospitable bars I have ever experienced: Charlie Parker’s. With dangerously comfortable couches and candle-lit tables, it’s the kind of venue where an hour feels like ten minutes,” he says. Every visit begins with a fruity or plant-driven cocktail. “From there, I like to move on to their extensive range of Australian and New Zealand spirits accompanied by one of Danielle Alvarez’s woodfired flatbreads.”
The latest addition to his list of favourites is The Duke of Clarence. “The hand-pumped Kilt Red Ale on tap and the scotch egg are bang on.”
Kipling’s Garage Bar
2 Eastern Road, Turramurra
380 Oxford Street, Paddington
The Duke of Clarence
152–156 Clarence Street, Sydney
“I go there to talk to JP and to try the different funky wines they have on offer. Sometimes I take a cheeky stab at guessing the mystery glass of the week.”
After ordering a charcuterie plate and the “best ever pork-fennel sausages” at Chester White, Capol will sip on a Negroni or a glass of malbec.
“My absolute favourite bar when it comes to the cocktails and wine selection is Dead Ringer.” She’ll order a sangria spritz with some creamed almonds.
The Coffee and Cigarettes cocktail from This Must be the End comes next, followed by a mezcal Margarita or a mezcal Negroni from Chula. On most Tuesday’s you’ll find her at Maybe Frank for a Negroni and pizza.
Chester White Diner
3 Orwell Street, Potts Point
413 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
Anton Forte – bartender at The Baxter Inn
For Forte, it’s 10 William St. “It’s dark with tiny round tables, bustling waiters, air-kisses, steaming pappardelle, jazz and Italian natural wine. Ask the boys behind the bar to pour you something fresh, interesting and weird. Order delicious snacks and make friends with your neighbour. [It has] one of the best little atmospheres in Sydney.”
For afternoon drinking, Forte likes Fortune of War in The Rocks. “I love coming to this pub in the afternoons when it’s nice and quiet. I always sit at the bar and order a middy of Old.”
He loves the Sunday night apertivo program at The Dolphin, too. “They host a night of solid food, wicked entertainment, cold Resch’s and chin-wagging.”
Forte’s local hangout is Arcadia Liquors in Redfern. “This is one of my favourite bars in Sydney and it’s round the corner from my home. It’s an honest-to-goodness comfortable, non-themed, nice-guy, beer-chugging, fun-time bar. It's one of the best representations of a venue that does everything right. Great soundtrack, good people, local and proud.”
For cocktails, it’s a Penicillin from Bulletin Place.
10 William St
10 William Street, Paddington
Fortune of War
137 George Street, The Rocks
7 Cope Street, Redfern
Sophie Otton – sommelier at Billy Kwong
After work Otton likes to pop over the road for a wine at Yellow. “It’s a stylish, relaxing space to wind down. Nick Hilderbrandt writes brilliant wine lists. He has an experienced palate so the selections are not just interesting, but very good. You can find rare stuff because he gets great allocations – ethereal wonders like L’Anglore, Foillard or Souhaut, which can be hard to find.”
Like Dicati, she loves Where’s Nick “for it’s playful neighbourhood vibe”. “[Julian Abouzeid]’s wine list is just as enticing. “He’s on the pulse when it comes to Australian natural wines and is always talking about something new and fun they’ve listed. It works because I am inclined to try something different. Try the Jauma Chenin or the Sand and Schist, if they haven’t sold out. It’s refreshingly pure and crystalline.”
“Fred’s has a beautifully appointed, European-styled front bar that entices you to stop in for a glass of champagne, every time.” She recommends a delicate red Poulsard from Domaine de la Pinte. “I’m still thinking about it!”
Carlo Russo – bar manager at Nour*
Russo seats himself at Cafe Sydney for an aperitif “and maybe a nice sunset”. If he’s after wine with a view, it’s North Bondi Fish or Icebergs. “Palmer & Co, Eau De Vie and The Baxter Inn are great for the atmosphere and the selection of whiskey and cocktails.”
Russo also suggests ordering the Sophia cocktail from Maybe Frank.
Sydney Customs House, 31 Alfred Street, Sydney
North Bondi Fish
120 Ramsgate Avenue, North Bondi
1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach