I’ve always paid attention to drinks and beverages. I was a barista from 14 or 15 and by the age of 18, I was managing a busy café in the Sutherland Shire called Grind. I geeked out on coffee; we did lots of coffee tastings and I always really enjoyed it. There was a lot of palate training, which was super helpful when I started in wine.
Once I got into wine, I stayed on that pathway. I tried my first wine as a teenager at 17 or so. I was not quite old enough to be drinking, but it was Father’s Day, and my Dad opened a Mount Pleasant Shiraz. It was 25 years old and decanted and I was like, “Hey can I try some of that?” It was like nothing I’ve had before.
I started my way as a sommelier when I was about 24. I tried to get into restaurants and the wine scene, but it was tricky at the beginning. It was almost a protected environment, at least on the outside, so I went ahead and educated myself and started pushing, nagging and asking questions.
I began working at Kensington Street Social as a bartender, which was pretty fun. They had a really cool wine program there and I did some courses, and as luck would have it, a spot opened up on the wine team and I was offered a junior role there.
The team I worked with at Kensington were great and inclusive, but before, it was like, “You need experience,” and no one wanted to give me any, so it was frustrating. My favourite types of wines are generally the ones people don’t really pay attention to.
There is a whole world out there that a lot of diners don’t know about. People drink red wine and are like, “It just tastes like red wine”, but there are a million other things in the glass you can taste.
Monopole exclusively focuses on Australian and French wines, so we’ve obviously got the classics like all your Burgundy selections and Bordeaux, but there’s quite a few other regions.
Savoie in Southeastern France on the Swiss border has some beautiful whites and reds and there are a couple of producers who are a little unattainable.
Nicole Deriaux from Domaine de Montbourgeau is based in Jura and the Bentley Group have quite a lot of wines from Jura in France that are on the cult-y side and come with a high price tag. Her wines are absolutely delicious and are at a better price point for people to access.
A couple of Australian makers have come across my way and are really interesting when it comes to producers. I can get into a bit of a barrel on the web just finding new people who are making cool things. Jess Di Giorgio from Bande Apart and Tessa
Brown and her partner from Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown at Beechworth are all making wines that just keep getting better and better each year.
We want Monopole’s wine offering to be inclusive and educational as well. We obviously have some vintage-age Bordeaux coming in at a high price, but then we have some beautiful entry-level stuff, too. We do small offerings by the glass so guests can have a little taste of these wines.
I change the wine list quite a lot to keep it interesting for guests and myself. We did a wine list for the month of March with all female producers. We were planning on doing a little feature, but it just didn’t really make sense as there are so many amazing female producers out there, so we gave them a stage and a platform for the whole month.
The reception at Monopole has been really positive. The wine list at Potts Point had a large international offering, and this has just been really focused. It has given us a chance to hone in on areas that sometimes get lost on wine lists. We’ve got a couple of regulars who get excited when there are new wines on the list; it keeps me engaged and on my toes when I’m finding new things for everyone to drink.