Drinking Victoria: Liz Carey

Published on 14 November 2019

Photo: Liz Carey, part of the Soulfor Wine team.

Your guide to what’s in the glass from the people in the trade.

Wine importer and self-described “hospitality nerd” Liz Carey began her career in the trade 25 years ago working for her parents at their pub. Her love of restaurants has taken her from Melbourne to London to Sydney and back to Melbourne, working as a restaurant manager and sommelier for the likes of MoVida and Christine Manfield along the way. A wine importer and distributor under her label Wine & Food Solutions since 2016, Liz still occasionally moonlights on the floor “because nothing beats the buzz of a good service”. Three years ago she joined the team that organises Soulfor Wine, a yearly wine party held in Melbourne. When she’s not with them at Abbotsford Convent, promoting organically farmed wine made without additions, she likes to roam (and drink) far and wide across Melbourne.

The last three delicious things I drank were all at a lunch with some friends before they went overseas. There were many exceptional bottles, but the 2004 Bindi Quartz Chardonnay stood out. It was precise, focused and still had some freshness 15 years later. There was also a Terada Honke Katori 90, a sake from one of Japan’s oldest breweries – all of their sakes are naturally brewed only from organic rice. A friend imports them and it makes me very happy enjoying a glass of this at the end of the day. And the 2018 Joan Rubio Tiques Xarello, a new import for me from one of the Spain’s leading biodynamic producers. It’s fantastic.

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Melbourne is Kirk's. There’s always something interesting and delicious to drink on the wine list and it caters to a broad audience. 

In regional Victoria, Wine and the Country in Daylesford has one of the best selections of wines available under one roof. From hard-to-get imports to new producers, and they champion the region.

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, I  procrastinate. 

The Victorian spirit I’m digging the most right now is Melbourne Gin Company Single Shot Gin. I’ve known Andrew Marks for many years, and I remember the bathtub trials of MGC back in 2011. From a single distillation, this full-flavoured gin makes a wicked Martini. 

There’s no better value on wine list or in a bottle-shop in this state than Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown from Beechworth. Tessa Brown and her husband Jeremy Schmölzer make a range of wines called Pret-à (Blanc, Rosé and Rouge) from fruit they purchase in the King and Alpine Valley regions. Easy-drinking wines that deliver bang for buck. The fruit comes from sustainably farmed vineyards and they take a hands-off approach in the winery.

For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world is not one person, but rather the winemakers and younger producers who have their own small vineyards and are choosing to work these sustainably and organically. Agriculture and farming are becoming harder, so I have a lot of respect for those that choose to live and work on the land in this manner.

Catch Liz Carey working her magic at Soulfor Wine at Abbotsford Convent on Sunday 17 November from 12 noon to 11pm, alongside organisers Giorgio De Maria (Giorgio de Maria Fun Wines), Campbell Burton (Campbell Burton Wines), Drew Green (Embla), Josh Murphy (Harley & Rose) and David Moyle (late of Longsong). In addition to tastings, the event features food from Josh and David as well as guest chefs John Paul Twomey (Carlton Wine Room) and Luke Burgess, and a DJ line-up put together by Plug Seven Records. Tickets start at $28.

Follow Liz Carey’s further adventures on Instagram at @wineandfoodsolutions_aus and @madameelspeth, vivantselections.com.

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