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BENNIE'S BARS | adelaide

Hellbound exploded on to the Adelaide bar scene earlier this year, and Mike Bennie now counts it among one of the best wine bars in the country, a must-visit for anyone going to the South Australian capital.


201 Rundle St, Adelaide, SA

Hellbound is found down an unassuming staircase, below street level in one of the heritage-listed buildings on Rundle Street. I had expected dark lighting, fire and heavy metal, but the cosy, shabby-chic interior has a far more uplifting air. The wine list is thoughtfully selected and broad, the cocktails and spirits, curated by co-owner and spirits importer Mark Reginato, are outstanding, and the snacks are pitch-perfect for grazing while working through the drinks menu. Hellbound is right at the top of the pack of Adelaide's growing coterie of wine bars.

"Atmosphere-wise we wanted it to feel like drinking in somebody's home cellar: cosy, welcoming, unpretentious," says Hellbound's other co-owner, renowned wine guy Louis Schofield. Schofield and Reginato have nailed the brief with exposed 130-year-old stone walls, restored pressed metal ceilings, recycled furniture and a collection of wine bottles scattered throughout the space.

The wine collection is outstanding, paying tribute to wine producers of all ilks and sizes with high quality the motif. "We have no set philosophy, but we love sustainability, smaller producers, and natural wine. The only real rule we have is 'no gross wines'," explains Schofield.

Being in Adelaide, the 'capital of Australian wine', Schofield focuses on local wine producers, "Adelina, Frederick Stevenson, Charlotte Dalton, Ochota Barrels and Murdoch Hill to name a few. It's so important to support local wine, especially as so many of our mates rely on the wine industry to make a living". That being said, Schofield's time at premium wine store East End Cellars is evident in this list with a grand collection of imported wines fleshing out the offering.

Reginato's influence is no less important as he is considered one of Australia's foremost cocktail and distillate experts. As an importer and distributor of artisan spirits, the compendium of hard booze at Hellbound is extraordinary and shouldn't be overlooked.

Food isn't a major focus but chef Hannah Jeffrey (of Peel St) writes the menu. "It's simple, quick and delicious," says Schofield. "The aim is getting the acidity right in the food, nothing too spicy, and the number of wines that don't go well with Comté or salami is pretty minute, so they're staples."

With these two new generation industry pros at the helm, Hellbound has rocketed up the 'must-do' list for anyone visiting Adelaide and finds itself in the esteemed company of the best wine bars in Australia. It's a coup for the City of Churches, and the kudos is due to the tenacity and smarts of the proprietors.

The Highlights

Top Drinks: 2010 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Spätlese Riesling (Mosel, Germany) - one of those pitch-perfect wine bar wines that marries refreshment factor, mouthwatering acidity, freshness and general good vibes.
2014 Francois Bertheau 1er Cru Chambolle-Musigny (Burgundy, France) - it's a pretty fancy wine but it is accessible with its svelte feel, inward concentration and general sense of elegance.

Drink + Food Match: Schofield goes for a match of acidity and sweetness with 2016 Millton Vineyards Chenin Blanc and the creamy, umami-laced whipped tahini.

Best Dish: The team is dedicated to food that suit the breadth of the wine list, hence burrata with toasted hazelnuts, salsa verde and tomato is the dish of choice.

Midnight Spaghetti

196 Grenfell St, Adelaide,

Sure, it's mostly about the pasta, but the short and sharp wine list has a keen focus on smaller, local producers and interesting imports.

Sunny's Pizza

17 Solomon St, Adelaide,

Another 'is it a bar? Is it a restaurant?' kind of vibe, but it's hard to go past the good times at this pizza joint and the all-by-the-glass wine list is a really fun thing to explore.

The Tasting Room

25 Vardon Ave, Adelaide, 

It's attached to the East End Cellars fine wine store, so you're kind of sitting in a bottle shop, but the charcuterie is great and the ever-changing wine list exciting.