Drinking Victoria: Phoebe Grant

Published on 22 July 2022

Photo: Nature of the Beast's Phoebe Grant

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

Phoebe Grant grew up in her parents' small nebbiolo vineyard, Traviarti, in Beechworth, so her decision to follow suit and enter the wine industry hasn’t surprised many. At 22 she has three vintages under her label, Nature of the Beast, with the goal to create the type of wines that she likes to drink: savoury, textual and interesting. When she’s not in the vineyard, she's working the floor of Michael Ryan’s Japanese-inspired Beechworth restaurant, Provenance. 

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Victoria is… Something that I have recently been really impressed by, and should be a defining change in our industry, is the work Moira Tirtha has done at Manzé to include First Nations place names on the wine list. Such an important step in the right direction. I can’t wait for this to become the norm. 

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, I panic! 

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now isBeechworth Bitters amari. Maybe I’m slightly biased because I work for Michael Ryan at Provenance, but I really love the whole range. I’ve had the privilege of tasting the extracts individually in the kitchen throughout the process, and it’s been so amazing to learn about the varying complexities that come from each different botanical. I also love Michael’s commitment to using local botanicals; it all feels quite personal when I can taste the Douglas fir in the ‘Up to Eleven’ that comes from the gardens I spent time bumming around in as a teenager. 

The last three delicious things I drank were… We have been known to have pretty excessive end of vintage parties in Beechworth and this year was no exception. A dear friend lost his mind and bought a jeroboam of 2018 Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne. Unreal. The most perfect balance of matchstick-y, sesame reduction and fruit weight. Everything a grand cru Burgundy should be.

I bought a bottle of Jérôme Prévost La Closerie Les Béguines Champagne to celebrate a friend’s birthday and it was perfect. Clean, lean with a Goldilocks level of yeastiness to it. I will be thinking about this bottle for years. 

Cam Parish’s Cavendish House Martini at Gimlet. Is this the perfect Martini? I think so. Not too dry, not too wet and different olives to snack on as your Martini warms up? Genius. 

There’s no better value on a wine list or in a bottle-shop in this state than Sentio Beechworth chardonnay. Chris Catlow continues to be one of the most inspiring winemakers in the state. His chardonnay is always balanced, lush and precise. 

My favourite place to buy booze is… I love visiting Blackhearts and Sparrows when I’m in Melbourne. Jess and Paul Ghaie have absolutely mastered curating local gems and interesting imports. I’ve never walked out empty handed. 

I’d love to see us planting more savagnin. Where is all the savagnin? It’s one of those varieties that can wear many hats, and we need more Victorian expressions from all ends of the spectrum, ouille to oxidative. 

My guilty pleasure at the bar is… I don’t find any of my pleasures guilty, but I have been judged plenty of times for being an absolute sucker for a Shandy. I’m constantly trying to convert my friends (with a reasonably low success rate). It’s the perfect midday treat during vintage.

For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world is anyone who is pursuing a niche out of passion not fashion. That’s when the industry is truly interesting and inspiring. 

Buy Phoebe Grant's wines from natureofthebeastwine.com, or follow @natureofthebeastwine for updates


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