After a lengthy build and much anticipation, Leigh Street Wine Room has opened in a former dry-cleaning shop, presenting Adelaide with a bar devoted to natural and minimal-intervention wines.
Co-owner Nathan Sasi's reverence for all-natural drops is on full display, with some 400-plus bottles of rare wines lining the shelves of the long, narrow space.
"It's been like a wonderful treasure hunt," he says, having spent the past eight months hunting down hard-to-get wines, many sourced directly from producers. There's Jacques Puffeney's "farewell vintage" 2014 Arbois, for example; on the pointer end of the list, a $600 bottle of Valentini from Italy, and an affordable (but no less special) house white blend made exclusively for the bar by Gareth Belton of Adelaide Hills' Gentle Folk.
The sense of vinous adventure is heightened by a roster of guest winemakers and sommeliers (including Banjo Harris Plane, formerly of Attica) to point customers in unexpected directions, from internationals such as Maison Pierre Overnoy to natural beauties from Basket Range.
It all backs up a design by Studio-Gram that, with its long arched ceiling, echoes Barcelona; the mustard-coloured banquettes, Paris; and the terrazzo bar, Italy. (Cleverly, the wall tiles are made from thick, textured layers of fibre that baffle the sound when the bar becomes lively.) Closer to home, tableware is sourced from Adelaide's Jam Factory.
"We want people to feel relaxed, as though they are guests in our lounge room," says Sali Sasi, who co-owns the bar with husband Nathan. "We're delighted to have achieved that as soon as we've opened the doors."
While pulling together the new bar, Nathan was rattling the pans at Nola, Yiasou George and Anchovy Bandit. Now, he's driving his own – albeit tiny – kitchen beside Blake Drinkwater (ex-Orana).
Dishes are designed to sit comfortably in the presence of wine: chicken-liver parfait with vermouth jelly; crumbed and fried cubes of pig's head with aioli and pickles; whipped cod-roe with puffed-rice crackers sprinkled with seaweed. There's a selection of house-cured meats – mortadella, capocollo, Mayura wagyu bresaola, fennel and white-wine salami – while pumpkin and sheep's curd agnolotti and Roman-style braised tripe and chickpeas fly the flag for South Australian produce. And be sure to stay for the dessert of Pedro Ximenez canéles.
The menu changes regularly, depending on what's available on the market.
"I don't want the food to ever be predictable," says Nathan. "Making sure the dishes sit well with these unique wines is a springboard to creativity."
Predictable it is not, but the long and happy future of this Adelaide wine bar is on the cards.
Leigh Street Wine Room, 9 Leigh Street, Adelaide, SA, 0499 555 461, instagram.com/leighstreetwineroom