Drinking Victoria: Mac Forbes

Published on 2 September 2021

Photo: Yarra Valley winemaker Mac Forbes

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

Born and raised in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, Mac Forbes is the posterboy of the region's wine scene. He counts the late John Middleton of Mount Mary as one of his main influences, but spent a great deal of his winemaking life working alongside prominent producers across France, Spain and Portugal. Once Forbes returned back to Victoria, he started the project he has now dedicated his working life to, mapping the Yarra Valley’s sub-regions and appellations. The winemaking under his own label, Mac Forbes Wines, builds on this narrative, helping to showcase the best of what Yarra Valley soil has to offer.

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Melbourne/Victoria is still the City Wine Shop. Nothing defines Melbourne better than a glass on Spring street when the hustle is on.

If I were to choose a Victorian drink purely on the strength of its label, I’d go for Timo Mayer’s the Dr label. It’s so cheeky and blatant in ripping off an old-school, classic, European label. It’s great fun.

The Victorian spirit I’m digging the most right now is… Andrew Marks’ Melbourne Gin Company is still making some of the best gin in Australia. I especially love the Single Shot.

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, I always start with sherry.

My favourite place to buy booze is from any good local bottle shop in the region you visit. 

The last truly delicious thing I drank was an incredible oolong tea and a stunning chardonnay from Domaine Valette in Mâcon, Burgundy. 

I’d love to see us planting/brewing/distilling in any way that broadens our understanding of who we are and what suits our soils, climates and cultures. 

The best or most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been not chasing points and accolades from wine judging. We seem to have grown into our skins and as consumers we’re drinking what we like as opposed to what we feel we should or what we are told is ‘best’. 

There’s no better value on a Victorian wine list/in a bottle-shop in this state than Fleet Wines. Good friends making fresh, super delicious, fun wines.

For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world is the next generation of young winemakers and producers committed to forging a path in this industry. When many are heading away from hospitality due to hours, those that are entering the winemarking world are doing so due to an absolute passion and love for what they see.  They’re inspirational in terms of embracing the unique Australian ways and how our wines sit in a global context. So powerful and important for the future of Australian wine.

Mac Forbes Winery, 770 Koo Wee Rup Rd, Healesville, macforbes.com, @mac_forbes_wines

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