Published on 14 October 2019
The last delicious thing I drank was a glass of oh-so-cherry-juicy 2019 cabernet franc from Cré Wines, a new label from the Yarra Valley, that I found at Essie, the fab new wine bar that’s just opened in Malvern, abouttwo minutes’ walk from my house. Dangerous.
The last Victorian wine that surprised me was the 2016 UBF from Blue Pyrenees Estate, a delicious, rich, textural skins-fermented white. It’s one of 12 Victorian wines I’ll be pouring at the Degustation for Dignity event on October 25 (see below).
As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Melbourne is Gerald’s Bar in North Carlton. This place is serious fun. I’ve known Gerald for 25 years, and drinking here feels like coming home.
The Victorian spirit I’m digging the most right now is the brilliant pastis from Hurdle Creek at Milawa in Victoria’s northeast, featuring native aniseed myrtle. Louche, baby, louche!
When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant I go straight for the by-the-glass selection: I would much rather try two or three wines I’ve never tasted before than stick to one familiar bottle. Life’s too short to drink the same thing twice.
There’s no better value on a Victorian wine list or in a bottle-shop than the extraordinary fortified wines from Rutherglen. Yes, yes, I know: these luscious brown drinks are daggy and old-fashioned and talking about them makes me come across like your boring old uncle banging on about the old days, but I don’t care: they’re brilliant and cheap and if you don’t want to drink them, I will.
For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world was visionary restaurateur Donlevy Fitzpatrick: back in the 1990s, Don’s Melbourne Wine Room at The George in St Kilda nurtured a philosophy of relaxed local eating and drinking we take for granted today. I was lucky enough to see it evolve firsthand.