16 May 2024

Drop in for something unusual at Romanée Wine Bar

| Lucy Ridge
Chester hold a bottle of wine in one hand and wine glass in the other in front of lightbox that reads "Romanée Wine Bar"

Chester Mok says Romanée is his ‘mid-life crisis’. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Sommelier Chester Mok has spent a career working in the wine and hospitality industry, and he’s developed a rather impressive wine cellar in the process. Now, he’s decided to share it with Canberra at his new wine bar, Romanée.

“This is my mid-life crisis,” Chester told Region.

“It’s a passion piece, a vanity project, really. It’s just a place for me to do the things I want to do and share wines I enjoy, and hopefully, other people will enjoy them too.”

Romanée is located at the back of the Branx building on Lonsdale Street (in the space formerly occupied by Alcove). Chester has been renovating the space himself, including salvaging an insect-damaged piece of Norfolk Pine for the bar and putting in an outdoor seating area.

Green bottle of wine on wooden bar.

Lesser-known wines like Picpoul de Pinet will be on offer at Romanée. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The wine list here will include wines from all over the world, including Australia. Chester has a passion for under-appreciated wine varieties, and he says Australia is uniquely placed to grow a wide range due to its climatic variation.

“I’ve always been about the weird and wonderful varietals of Australia,” he said.

“So I won’t be serving Sauvignon Blanc by the glass, but I’ll have Fiano and Gewürztraminer. Whatever you like to drink, I’ll have something you will enjoy, but it might get you out of your comfort zone.”

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Wines by the glass will change weekly and will be based simply on whatever Chester is excited about drinking. Customers can expect back-vintages of Clonakilla Viognier Shiraz, boutique French wines, and unusual wines from up-and-coming winemakers from around the world.

Exterior courtyard with lights.

There is also a courtyard space out back at Romanée. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Romanée is named after one of the most exclusive (and expensive) wine houses in France – Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – but the vibe at Romanée will be far more laid back. After a career in hospitality, he’s done with bookings and set menus. He wants this bar to be a comfortable and relaxed space where friends can enjoy a glass of wine, snacks or a meal without pressure or pretence. The regular wines by the glass will range between $14 and $20, with a few very special back-vintages priced accordingly.

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Chester will draw on his chef training to create a compact menu to complement the wines. Think local charcuterie with a glass of Montepulciano or duck breast with Pinot Noir. He’s planning to offer snacks and cheese plates late into the evening, perfect for an after-dinner treat.

Old red wine bottles in wine fridge.

There will be a selection of back-vintages from Chester’s cellar available at Romanée. Photo: Lucy Ridge

In addition to wine, Chester will also have a few house cocktails made with his own spirits, which he produces under his Wine Chest brand. Distilled from ‘past-it’ wines and smoke-tainted riesling, these unique spirits include Smokey Bacon Vodka and Two Peppers Gin, made with Tasmanian pepperberry and Indonesian long pepper.

Romanée Wine Bar is located at 105/16 Lonsdale Street, Braddon. Romanée will open in late May; visit Wine Chest or Instagram to find out more.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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