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Wine lovers blend together for new shop and bar
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Wine buffs complaining about their pockets being insufficiently lined to enjoy the town's selection of fine vino can now rejoice ?? the newly opened Cuvee wine shop and bar aims to bring an eclectic mix of fine wines at prices that won't force you to take a second mortgage.

The 70-seater bar, which is part of a series of interesting developments on Kangding Road, is in its soft-opening and has an ample selection of 115 everyday wines and a few crus. Wine lovers can pop by for a bottle costing as little as a bit over 200 yuan (US$29) or, if the occasion calls for it, something a little more pricey for the desired effect.

"We're not trying to be like Enoteca or ASC's Wine Residence," said proprietor Mathew Ryan, who is also a partner in the Justbeer enterprise that distributes Australian beers locally. "We're also trying to be not like Senses."

Ryan, who recently quit his job with Hewlett Packard, was best known in town for Senses Wine Bar and Lounge on Jianguo Road. While it had its heyday, the good times didn't last forever and the investors eventually came to their wits and sold the venue.

Having been on the periphery of the nightspot business, the Sydney native has learned from mistakes at his previous bar as well as from other operators in the industry. "I've actually gone out of our way a bit to be different."

An indication is the appointment of French manager Paul d'Allad. The Brittany native was previously in charge of the excellent but poorly located Epicvre on Xinle Road, and he will be lending a French touch to proceedings. "It's not just about New World wine. Here, we're very much about the French, as well as the Australian, and everything in between."

Besides Ryan's pedigree, Cuvee can also draw upon the vino expertise of Summergate's Andrew Gardiner (the other partners have calculated the risks of exposure and prefer to remain silent for now). While the list currently offers a significant portion from the fine wine distributor, the Australian has actively engaged labels from all distributors to serve customers with the best selection of wines possible.

"When I started Senses, there were four people to buy wine from here we are purchasing from 18 different vendors. Those 115 spaces (on the list), we went through everyone's lists, narrowed it down to 300 then to 115. We didn't care if they had one or 15, we just took (the ones we wanted)."

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