Drinking Victoria: Moira Tirtha

Published on 20 October 2021

Photo: Moira Tirtha of Veraison magazine (photo: Sonny Witton)

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

Moira Tirtha is someone to watch in the world of wine. Not only are they the editor of Melbourne’s hottest new wine publication, Veraison, they also split their remaining time between choosing the wines at the newly opened Mauritian restaurant Manze, and working the shop floor of Blackhearts & Sparrows. They're a triple-threat, having spent their life diving into all aspects of the wine industry, with vintages at both Mac Forbes and Gentle Folk under their belt. The second issue of Veraison is coming hot off the presses this week, and the magazine was just nominated for Best Wine Serial Publication in the 2021 Wine Communicators Awards. Here Tirtha lets us know what and where they'll be spending the summer drinking.                                 

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Victoria is Edinburgh Gardens. It’s the most accessible place to drink wine. There are no wrong drinks to drink at Eddy Gs (although a bottle of fizz and hot chips from Super Tasty Rooster is top tier); you’re drinking in a park. Being able to bring whatever you want takes away a lot of the pressure from feeling the need to spend more than you’re comfortable spending and means that you’re always drinking what you think is delicious. You can also wear your pyjamas to the park and that’s pretty cool. And also, there are puppies everywhere.

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, I immediately feel anxious from the pressure of picking a wine that everyone will like, is in everyone’s budget and will also make me look like I know what I’m doing.

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now is…
I don’t drink spirits because they inevitably make my tummy feel funny but I’ll hit a vermouth on ice any day of the week. Hannah Hodges’ EB54 ‘Bitter and Twisted’ that she makes under Mac Forbes’ experimental batch label is my favourite.

There’s no better value on a wine list or in a bottle-shop in this state than Hochkirch Wines’ Tarrington chardonnay. The grapes in this bottle are farmed biodynamically by John Nagorcka with such intention and care which alone makes this wine outstanding value. But more than that, it’s got incredibly bright acid and minerality as well as a texture that will make you feel like you’re drinking premium Chablis. 

My favourite place to buy booze is…
I like buying wines from Blackhearts & Sparrows because I really like my staff discount and I like drinking things that are inspiring to the other staff I work with. Public Wine Shop is another favourite because Cam Burton and the team are always so knowledgeable about the people behind the bottle, and you know that every bottle in there is farmed well and there for a reason.

I’d love to see us growing more stuff other than grapes in our vineyards. Conventional farming and monoculture systems in viticulture aren't the best thing for vines or for the planet. Planting other crops in the vineyard and creating biodiversity help create a healthier ecosystem. There are lots of plants out there, especially natives, that do great things like promote soil health, water retention and carbon sequestration and it would be great to see more growers doing that.

My guilty pleasure in the fridge/drinks cabinet/at the bar is a black-cherry White Claw seltzer. (Don’t @ me.)

The last three delicious things I drank were...
Maria and Sepp Muster’s 2019 Graf Morillon made me do a little happy-dance when I took my first sip. Morillon is the Austrian name for chardonnay and I’d never had anything like it. It was fresh, salty, textured and had this distinct green-mango character to it.

The Lamorseca Rosato is a wine I look forward to drinking every year because it marks the arrival of spring and never disappoints. This hefty guy had real ‘licking-a-rock’ energy. Rosé is also the greatest wine genre (texture and red fruits, how?).

This is not wine, but I always like getting cendol nangka from D’Penyetz & D’Cendol in Carlton. It’s an Indonesian iced coconut and palm sugar-based dessert/drink with pandan jelly and jackfruit. It reminds me a lot of home, which has been nice during lockdowns.

The best or most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been taking it less seriously and having a lot of fun with it.

For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world is Shashi Singh of Avani Wines in the Mornington Peninsula. She’s one of the warmest and grounded people out there. You don’t get to see a lot of people of colour in the industry, and Shashi and her family make brilliant wines that not only speak of place but also speak to the interwoven nature of culture and craft. She’s my hero and I want her to adopt me.

Issue 2 of Veraison is available now, $25, veraisonmag.com

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