A similar vibe and treasure trove of lo-fi goodies to the Newtown iteration of P&V, but you can stick around here, have a bite and crack a few bottles for a relatively modest corkage.
The nuts & bolts
An expansive, avant-garde bottle shop with a wine bar attached that’s also home to a new-wave bistro run by one of Sydney’s sharpest culinary talents? That’s the Paddington outpost of P&V Merchants, in a nutshell.
P&V first appeared on the scene back in 2017 on Enmore Road in Newtown – the brainchild of celebrated drinks journalist Mike Bennie and hospitality veteran Lou Dowling – becoming the city’s very first bricks-and-mortar shop devoted exclusively to natural wine, craft beer and small-batch spirits. The Paddington branch, which opened in February of 2021, is the duo’s second venue and pretty much picks up where the original leaves off, expanding on the retail experience with the option to sit down and have a drink.
“P&V Paddington was opened to bolster the offering of P&V Newtown,” Bennie says. “The venue dictated what we would and could do, with a formidable kitchen, outdoor bar area and shop floorspace rippling with potential. We wanted a place where the wine list was the walls, where the potential to take away and drink in would be possible hand in hand.”
Step through the doors, off bustling Oxford Street, and you’ll find a veritable Aladdin’s cave of low-intervention wines from across the world lining the fridges and floor-to-ceiling timber shelves. Bottles of grower Champagne vie for attention with magnums from cult heroes like Cantina Giardino, Bruno Duchêne and Gut Oggau, while some of Australia’s brightest up-and-coming stars (Konpira Maru, Express Winemakers, Minim) sit alongside established benchmarks from the likes of Sorrenberg or Frédéric Cossard. The common thread? Nothing fined, nothing filtered, all of it spontaneously fermented, organically and/or biodynamically farmed, with nothing added save for perhaps a touch of sulphur at the time of bottling.
Elect to take a seat – either out in the intimate courtyard or inside amongst the retail action – and you’ll soon discover there’s no real wine list to speak of. Every bottle is available to open for an additional $20 corkage charge, and by-the-glass wines are listed by style (“fresh white, complex orange, big red…”) on chalkboards and poured by staff who detail the ins and outs. The selection changes daily, sometimes even several times in a single sitting and might even include a unicorn new release or back-vintage jeroboam, if the mood is right.
As for the food, expect an unpretentious line-up of snacks designed to go with wine: freshly shucked Wapengo Rocks oysters, Olasagasti anchovies with bread and butter, local cheeses, a vegan ploughman’s plate featuring pecan pâté from Bloodwood in Newtown, or terrine made in-house by chef Nicholas Hill. Upstairs, Hill and Harry Levy are giving fresh life to forgotten French classics at Porcine, a neo-bistro of sorts that, while technically a separate business, still happily employs the same corkage policy as the bar downstairs.