At The Bar with Marion Sommelier Penny Vine

Sommelier Penny Vine fell in love with wine during her stint at Marion on Gertrude Street where she began as a waiter almost eight years ago. Now, she takes on the role as Head Sommelier, perfecting those ever changing wine lists – where she swerves from the adventurous to the seasonal and small batch, in a bid to be all fabulous things to those who love to dine here.

Marion has also just extended its hours in time for the warmer weather, serving lunch seven days a week. To celebrate, they have introduced Le Hora Del Vermut – a list of vermouths and a chic snack menu that will have you curiously coming back for more.

The drinks are certainly something to savour here too. From Marion’s Preparado con Sifón (think Tanqueray ‘Flor de Sevilla’ gin, red vermouth, soda and orange) served table side with a soda siphon, there’s also aromatised wine from the Adelaide Hills and Saison’s Fallen Quince Vermouth from Regional Victoria to whet the appetite.

But when it comes to her wine list, Vine is all about capturing the diner’s palette.

“Our philosophy is that the best wine lists are made for the guest and not the sommelier – Marion is no exception,” says Penny Vine.

“Our guests are quite adventurous, and that gives us the freedom to change things up pretty frequently. I love having the space to try out new listings that might just be a small run, or seasonal, or a new producer and just give it some air time,” she says.

Wine she is loving right now include:

maisonLAPALUS ‘Sin Velum’ Vino de Vela – an unfortified, but flor affected Viognier from Heathcote that is new on the La Hora del Vermut menu.

“This is reminiscent of the new wave unfortified white wines I loved when I was in Jerez earlier this year,” says Vine.

2021 Nervi Conterno ‘Il Rosato’ Nebbiolo Rosé from Piedmont, Italy.

“Rosé at its rarest and best. Racy and refreshing, lightly grippy texture, begging to be drank outside on Gertrude St,” says Vine.

2021 S.C. Pannell ‘Smart’ Grenache from McLaren Vale, SA. “There’s relatively tiny amounts of Grenache grown in McLaren Vale, but it’s make big waves right now, mostly thanks to producers such as Steve Pannell with elegant, structured examples like this one.”

MY CITY

Melbourne. It’s just so beautifully gritty. Nowhere else could make grey skies feel so welcoming. But mostly, the baseline for hospitality is so consistently high.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

I never used to eat oysters. Then I got my first proper restaurant job, and a colleague forcibly ordered oysters for me until I grew to love them to the dangerous level I do today. The first time I craved and then ate a Sydney Rock oyster, that simple, salty, refreshing mouthful was unforgettable.

FAVOURITE BAR MEMORY

A friend took me to City Wine Shop for the first time many years ago on a Monday, and we sat at the bar inside and had the Monday Mystery Wine (and a beer and an espresso). The engagement with the team there as we discussed all the things this glass of wine could be was a real lesson in how a bar can turn education and discovery into a positive service experience.

DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOUR PERSONALITY

Manzanilla – classic but fresh, dry and a little salty. Likes lots of food, but a great drink all on its own.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

Rare beef Phở from Anh Minh on Lygon st in Brunswick East, or a Bloody Mary and shoestring fries at the pub. A sneaky little coca-cola goes a long way too.

BEST INTERSTATE BAR

Cantina OK! in Sydney. If a bar can make me happy to stand up for three rounds of drinks and not think twice about it there’s something special going on. I drank (too many) Pedro Villasuso Roboto agave spirit. The menu is beautiful and considered, and yeah, the drinks are great but the service is really what did it for me. Warm, fun, fast and most importantly, genuine.

FAVOURITE WINE

An impossible question – everything has a time and place. But I do generally find myself looking in the Australian Chardonnay section of any wine list I open at the moment.

FAVOURITE WINERY

We have an amazing cellar door culture in Australia that is so great for the industry, so in that sense my favourite wineries are those that reflect that hospitality. To name just a few – Lyon’s Will in Macedon Ranges, Moorooduc Estate in Mornington Peninsula and Jayden Ong in the Yarra Valley.

BEST NEWCOMER

Australian aromatic aperitifs – local vermouth; aromatised wine; fortified grape juice mistelles; amaros – we are killing it in these categories right now. A few to check out are Saison, Reed & Co and Beechworth Bitters.

NEXT DESTINATION

I’ll be spending my next holiday pretty close to home I think. A road trip through Western Victoria, across the border getting to know the Limestone Coast and then up to explore all the South Australian wine regions I should be better acquainted with. It’s so easy to get carried away exploring European wine country, I have to remind myself to spend time here at home where it’s just as beautiful.

HOW DO YOU CREATE THE MARION LIST – AND CONSIDER LOCAL VERSUS IMPORTED

The Marion list has always been a balancing act between classic, easy, esoteric and fun. It’s essentially a list within a list, as the selection is a snapshot of the larger Cutler & Co cellar next door, but skewing towards the needs of our guests in a wine bar environment. We want it to act as a mechanism to help guests navigate the large offering without necessarily requiring the assistance of a sommelier. We aim for the list to be exploratory and wide reaching, but in a short and sharp format. We work hard to find lo-fi and alternative wines that are still made with care, and value quality expressions of these styles. The list always favours local producers, we aim for at least 50% of listings from Australia, and of those, at least 50% from Victoria.

 

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