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BEST PLACES TO DRINK WINE: Western australia

PEP'S

Lady Lola Deli Bar Bistro

4/16 Cyrillean Way, Dunsborough
facebook.com/ladylolabar

Go for: a compelling expression of wine bar culture

Lady Lola is in coastal Dunsborough, perfectly located at the northern end of the Margaret River region. Michelle Forbes is a chef used to commanding large brigades but here you’ll often find her pushing on at the bar-come-kitchen. With partner Marinela Antonic, they’ve created a menu that feels like Forbes cooking her favourites, Antonic pouring a list curated again from their own tastes. On any given day you might find that unlikely Piedmontese meeting of sliced veal and tuna, vitello tonnato with capers, a salty plate to graze, a glass of Cascina Galarin Chardonnay from Piedmonte to hand, or cracking a bottle of Idée Fixe, the region’s new poster child for blanc de blancs from the Vasse Felix team. MAX BREARLEY

Petition Wine Bar & Merchant

St Georges Tce & Barrack St, Perth
petitionperth.com/wine

Go for: an intimate city bar experience and extensive list

Once home to WA’s state coffers, the State Buildings hub has been rehabilitated as Perth’s most alluring culinary destination. While home to a number of eateries, Petition Wine Bar & Merchant is the calm in the eye of the swanky storm – elegant but inviting; sophisticated yet disarming. The overarching State Buildings’ director of wine Emma Farrelly refers to Petition as her “little playground” – a place to wrestle free from the template and get venturous with her vino. The walls are an eclectic mosaic of drops for all palates: from Austrian grüner veltliner to Frankland River grenache. Grab a bottle to go or pull up a stool at the handsome 360-degree bar while getting your hands dirty with a stately waygu burger.  JULIAN TOMPKIN

Cherubino City Cellar

69-171 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco, Perth
citycellar.com.au

Go for: whatever venue manager and sommelier Will Roser has open for you to try

City Cellar opened at the end of 2020 – a year that demanded extra hope and patience. It operates both as a cellar door for Larry Cherubino wines and a wine bar (a very limited number of back vintages and rare museum releases are available in the bar or for takeaway). The wine list houses a focused and deeply exciting Italian selection, which – as substantiated rumour has it – was started with Larry’s personal cellar, but has since expanded to an even bigger, super impressive collection. Like all good neighbourhood bars, there’s always something open that isn’t on the by-the-glass list.  ERIN LARKIN

Pep’s

492 Stirling Hwy, Peppermint Grove, Perth
pepswinebar.com

Go for: the best seat in the city, at a high table against the wine wall

Is there anything better than a neighbourhood bar? Opened by liquor industry veteran Charlie Galbally and his wife Tarsh in October 2020, Pep’s strikes the delicate balance between up-market and cosy. Manager Hannah Oliver helps to curate the list, which traverses premium, hard-to-get cult finds and the classics. The most fun to be had, however, is buying wine by the bottle. “We don’t have a printed ‘by the bottle’ list; we have what we have and it’s always changing,” says Charlie. Coteaux Champenois, obscure and brilliant Italian, local heroes or cult Chablis … it’s all there. Pep’s is a bustling gem, filled with corners to perch in and wines to try, all while the afternoon sun streams in.  ERIN LARKIN

Liberté

160-162 Stirling Tce, Albany
libertealbany.com.au

Go for: the Parisian charm and chef Amy Hamilton’s menu

Talk of Liberté often focuses on the Franco-Viet culinary stylings of chef-owner Amy Hamilton. Her chilli crab and garlic noodles have taken on cult status, and she’s hailed for her savant-like take on flavour. But food is so often the second act here. The front bar, imbued with Parisian charm, might invoke boho interior comparisons, but the main ingredient is the intangible energy you feel, where bartenders recommend the best of the Great Southern. Engage Hamilton in conversation about favourite makers in her corner of WA and she’ll rave about the founding wineries as much as new-wave producers. Think La Violetta, Express Winemakers and Brave New Wine. The love is reciprocal, Liberté being the perennial recommendation from WA winemakers.  MAX BREARLEY

Settlers Tavern

114 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River
settlerstavern.com

Go for: the award-winning steak sambo and top-notch wine list

You’d be hard pressed to find a wine list like this in an inner-city haunt, let alone a country pub three hours’ drive from Perth. To be fair, it is in the middle of the Margaret River wine region, so there are plenty of well-honed palates to satiate. Alongside the drinks list is a consistent menu of pub classics, local seafood, and some finger-licking goods from the smoker. You’ll also be dining sustainably, as a low waste and no plastic policy has been in place since 2003. A mix of families and wine lovers can be found any day of the week, with live music on weekends and a cruisy playlist. The well-documented wine list stretches to 600+ bottles, plus more than 30 by the glass. Settle in and work your way through; there’s 16 beers on tap, too.  CASSANDRA CHARLICK

Madalena’s

406 South Tce, South Fremantle
madalenasbar.com.au

Go for: The fresh seafood and lo-fi wine list

South Fremantle has emerged as one of Australia’s hippest hoods, but the beachside hamlet maintains its unfussy allure. Few haunts epitomise this zeitgeist as deliciously as Madalena’s: a Portuguese-style boteco with the Indian Ocean as its providore. If the nostalgic scent of herring doesn’t shepherd you through the door, the ever-evolving wine selection, heavy on minimal intervention, will. Whether it’s a brackish Sardinian vermentino or a red/white field mash-up from the Swan Valley washing down your Albany sardines and Freo octopus, no one’s judging. With a discernibly 1950s’ aesthetic, live jazz is often the soundtrack of choice: but never cloying, always contemporary. Madalena’s is tradition delectably reimagined for the present.  JULIAN TOMPKIN

Strange Company

5 Nairn St, Fremantle
strangecompany.com.au

Go for: outstanding hospitality and aussie-centric wine list

Fremantle’s drinking holes come and go, however there’s good reason Strange Company is still cranking. This is the quintessential small bar, done right. Open seven days, it’s casual with walk-ins only after 4pm on weekends. It’s usually packed to capacity. At the centre of the sleek fit-out is a long communal bar offering a list of smart cocktails, carefully curated craft beers and an almost fully Australian wine list leaning stylistically towards minimal intervention. The Mediterranean-inspired menu is for sharing over a good bottle (or two), changing every two to three months. A fortnightly event, Strange Tastes, provides a chance to meet the crème de la crème of interesting producers.  CASSANDRA CHARLICK

Photography Courtesy of Petition Wine Bar & Merchant, Madalena’s, Lady Lola Deli Bar Bistro, Pep’s, Cherubino City Cellar, Liberté and strange company.