Australia / Melbourne

Public Wine Shop – Great Food and Wine

Public Wine Shop – Introduction

Public Wine Shop is a wonderful addition to the Melbourne food and wine scene. It is a natural extension of the natural wine importing business of Campbell Burton and Charlotte Ryan who were early adopters of the unstoppable trend towards wines without additives.

We first met Campbell when he was the sommelier at the Builders Arms complex in Gertrude Street. We always enjoyed showing him our wines due to his enthusiasm for natural wines matched with a sharp palate which allowed him to accurately describe wines and how they were made.

So now they have opened a charming, small venue where you can share the large table with others of a like mind and enjoy the amazing wine selection and the food prepared by clever chef Ali Currey-Voumard who we have known during her entire career in food due to her Tasmanian origins including being the founding head chef at The Agrarian Kitchen.

The venue is small but it would not be out of place in Hackney in London or the Lower East Side in New York or the 11th in Paris. It just feels right from the minute you walk in.

Public Wine Shop – The Food

The food could be called simple, but there would be doing a disservice to such flavour packed dishes. Ali has a knack of combining flavours and textures with apparent ease, but which ends up with the whole being much more than the sum of the parts.

The menu for the day of our visit

On our recent visit to Public Wine shop we were served by a good friend, the unflappable front-of-house star, Sarah Fitzsimmons who we got to know during her time working in Hobart.

We started with a plate of salami which consisted of a number of generous slices accompanied by a portion of an excellent baguette sourced from Loafer Bread, a wonderful bakery just a couple of hundred metres up the road.

Public Wine Bar
Salami and Loafer Bread baguette

The salami was followed by a cavalcade of delicious dishes including the freshest, saltiest, tastiest Sydney rock oysters we have eaten in ages, delicious Oeuf Mayonnaise, a perfect plate of Porchetta tonnato, a textural salad of bitter leaves, quince and chevre and finally, perfectly seasoned rigatoni all’Amatriciana to round out the meal.

This is great food that isn’t tricked up in any way – just great flavours stemming from great produce and clever cooking.

Public Wine Shop – The Drinks

You will find here one of the best selections of “no additions” natural wines that you are likely to come across anywhere in the world.

Let us explain why. The term natural wine is now fairly well understood. It is even subject to legislation or regulation in some countries including France and Switzerland. To be called natural, a wine must not have been made from grapes subjected to systemic sprays in the vineyard, must be fermented only with the natural yeasts on the grapes and must not be fined or filtered or subjected to any “traumatic” processes such as reverse osmosis or heat treatments.

More contentious, but a refinement on the above, is the addition of sulphites as a preservative. The French and Swiss protocols allow the addition of small amounts of sulphites, but other groups such as the S.A.I.N.S. organisation in Europe do not allow any.

Campbell and Charlotte definitely fall into the latter category. All of the producers they represent add no sulphites at all as well as conforming to all the other requirements for a wine to be natural.

At the Public Wine Shop you will find wines from producers such as Jordi Llorens from Catalonia, François Blanchard from the Loire Valley, Simon Busser from Cahors in SW France and Catherine and Gilles Vergé from the Maçon region of Burgundy to name just a few of our favourites. You might also find one of our producers such as Jean-Marc Dreyer who is also a member of the S.A.I.N.S. organisation.

On our visit Campbell organised a generous degustation of some newly-released wines from Cyril Alonso in France he had opened for trade customers that day. Three tienturier Gamays in one cuvée and 31 varieties in another. The world can be grateful for the work Alonso is doing to save so many rare varieties. The wines were alive and absolutely delicious!

You can find out more about their wine and food on the Public Wine Shop web site.

We have also included Public Wine Shop in our story about places to eat in Melbourne.

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