We caught up with Max Allen to discuss his new book, his dream of making a uniquely Australian cider and the future of the Australian wine industry, amongst other things…
Adelaide’s Best Wine Stores
Adelaideans are justifiably proud of their state’s wine credentials. Wouldn’t you be, if McLaren Vale, the Adelaide Hills, the Clare Valley, the Eden Valley and the Barossa were all a short(ish) drive away? This relationship is immediately apparent in its wine retailers – if not for the winemakers who regularly drop in to host tastings, then for the way South Australian labels dominate the shelves. That said, the city’s general passion for wine means that stalwarts such as East End, Melbourne Street and The Ed can also carry large ranges of top-end wines from France, Italy and beyond.
East End Cellars, Adelaide
This institution landed on village-like Vardon Avenue in 1998, moved across the road in 2014 (with a new on-premises license), and expanded next door in 2017. These days East End Cellars is just as much a wine bar as it is a wine shop. The shelves hold a massive number of wines – any of which can be drunk on site for an extra $15 (with some top-quality cheese and charcuterie, of course). There’s also a healthy by-the-glass list and rotating tasting flights that showcase a new winery each week. But it’s owner Michael Andrewartha and his team’s continually developing expertise that makes this business a favoured destination for visiting winemakers and off-duty chefs. Want to shop young wines from young labels, like Koerner and Switch? East End Cellars has them, and has probably hosted the makers at one of its weekly tastings. Want to splash on Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’, Bruno Rocca Barbaresco or Domaine de la Romanée-Conti? They’re also here.
Melbourne Street Fine Wine Cellars, North Adelaide
The tangle of grapevines that covers the front of the quaint two-storey building really sets the tone for a visit to Melbourne Street. Inside, you’ll find a selection almost as comprehensive as EEC’s, from local classics such as Rockford ‘Basket Press’ and St Hallett ‘Old Block’ through to bottles from Victoria’s Aller Trop Loin and WA’s Tripe.Iscariot and Blind Corner. Tastings are held twice weekly and cover similar ground. The team also has a passion for Old World wines and runs an allocations program, whereby customers can register to get their hands on the most coveted releases from Burgundy, Bordeaux and beyond. All this is backed by a wealth of experience and knowledge – owner John Swanson has been at the helm since 1987, and manager Ben Davidson is a former sommelier who’s been in the industry for more than a decade.
Edinburgh Cellars, Mitcham
This beloved wine retailer is most often referred to as “The Ed” these days. Housed in an 1855 heritage-listed sandstone corner store, the current wine shop opened around three decades ago and has been a breeding ground for some of the key players in today’s wine industry. Be sure to checkout their impressive selection of Burgundy, Bordeaux and Barolo – stored in a romantic crumbling cellar, no less. The main room, a more conventional retail experience, is the place to find bottles from Cullen, By Farr, BK Wines, Alpha Box & Dice and hundreds more.
Parade Cellars, Norwood
This long, narrow store is just two minutes’ brisk walk from a Dan Murphy’s outlet. It’s also hidden off-street, in Norwood Place shopping mall. That it continues to thrive says much about the stock (extensive), the service (knowledgeable, passionate) and the prices (“Nobody beats Parade Cellars prices!” the in-store signage boldly proclaims). The weekly tastings with local winemakers, and more sporadic ticketed masterclasses, are also drawcards. The locals get a lot of love here, in fact, from relative upstarts such as Spinifex, Aphelion, S.C. Pannell, Unico Zelo and Ochota Barrels to established names like Grosset and Shaw + Smith. Bottles from Victoria, Western Australia and Europe are also in the mix, albeit in smaller numbers. Foodland, the adjacent supermarket, carries an excellent range of smallgoods, cheeses, dips and other antipasto to complete your shop.
Belair Fine Wines, Belair
When the end of the world comes, this drab grey bunker with prison-bar windows wouldn’t be a bad place to ride it out. Though beer has increasingly become the shop’s biggest passion, it continues to live up to its name with regular tastings and multiple walls of wine. While there are some ho-hum bottles on the shelves, the likes of Tonic Wines, CRFT, Latta Vino and Hochkirch more than make up for it. And affordability is a focus, especially so when it comes to imports, which come from places such as Greece and Argentina in addition to the usual powerhouses. Don’t leave without a peek at the cheese cabinet.
Port Admiral Hotel Bottle Shop, Port Adelaide
There was good cheer in the air when Adelaide small bar royalty Crispian Fielke, Josh Baker and Dana Whyte (of Clever Little Tailor and Pink Moon Saloon), and some other business partners, restored this historic pub to its former glory in 2017. The same care went into the bottle shop. The dark, moody space is particularly committed to small producers and doesn’t carry much from the bigger names. Shop here for Borachio, Jauma, Delinquente and other local emerging stars, sitting alongside names from further afield like Farr Rising from Geelong.
Hutt Street Cellars, Adelaide
Shobbrook. Wines by KT. Scintilla. Vinteloper. These are just a few of the labels ready to pleasantly surprise you at this tidy SipnSave bottle shop attached to the Arab Steed Hotel. Tastings are held weekly, with the makers themselves usually in attendance.
Stirling Cellars and Patisserie, Stirling
Every daytrip to the Hills should include a stop at the multi-pronged beast that is the Stirling Hotel. In addition to boutique accommodation, a bistro and an upscale dining room, there’s this slick bottle shop and patisserie. Being a SipnSave outlet means it does carry some lacklustre stock, but a little browsing is rewarded… Continue on past the vast marble counter to find local stars (Shaw + Smith, BK, Ochota Barrels), others from wider SA, and plenty of classic expressions from France, Spain, Austria and Italy.