Meet the Maker / Phoebe Grant - Nature of the Beast
Meet the Maker / Phoebe Grant - Nature of the Beast

We had a chat with Phoebe before she started her shift on the 'floor' of the incredible fine-dining restaurant Provenance...

Phoebe Grant would make any 'young winemaker' seem old. At the tender age of twenty-one, she is undoubtedly one of Australia's most exciting young winemakers. With her newly established wine label 'Nature of the Beast' she is a discovery waiting to happen. Daughter of Nebbiolo gurus Simon and Helen Grant (Traviarti, Beechworth) the Grant family have long shared an interest in wine, and although finding wine through their sheer love of it, the 'wine industry' is not exactly her parent's background. For Phoebe, however, wine is the world she almost only knows.

Dedicating much of her time immersed around fine wine; from tasting incredible bottles with her folks and friends - Chef's, sommeliers and viticulturalists, it is an atypical yet curated mentorship surrounded by generosity and shared knowledge. If only every winemaking palate had such a gift. The detail and attention found in the quality of her 'beastly bits and bobs' is ridiculously exciting. From Macedon to the King Valley, these are wines that each have that 'special something'; a magic and understanding of place, made with love and respect. Nature of the Beast, is a force to be reckoned with.

Just like her folks, Phoebe too loves the incredible grape variety of Nebbiolo. Interpreted here as a rosé style, it is deceptively light in colour, and very bit as serious as its more common red counterpart. Taut with white cherry and rhubarb, it builds with an amazing satin-like texture balanced by racy acidity and just a hint of amaro. The complexity here found in its inherent subtlety and purity. An excellent length, this rosé is all about mouthfeel.

We had a chat with Phoebe before she started her shift on the 'floor' of the incredible fine-dining restaurant Provenance...

Who is your celebrity crush and/or grape variety crush?

I recently re-watched  'a bigger splash' for the 700th time, and am now back in my Dakota Johnson obsession. I'm obsessed with her. If you haven't seen it, you need to watch it.

I've been listening to podcasts more than watching (personally)... do you listen to podcasts?

Yeah! I've been listening to the podcast about the Elizabeth Holmes / Theranos trial 'The Dropout'. Fascinating.

So Dakota Johnson for celeb, what about grape variety?

I'll always be in love with Chardonnay... it's so nuanced and complex and overwhelming and exciting. I had a young couple dining in the restaurant recently, they'd be in their 20's, saying "we want a bottle of wine - but NOT Chardonnay" When I asked them 'why not Chardonnay?' The guy replied "because we are not 60". Ha. I must be 21 going on 60. Chardonnay is the best.

Have you always known you'd make wine? How did it come about for you? What was your 'aha' moment?

I drink so many great wines it's hard to say. The other day I had an 'aha' moment tasting a '66 Wendouree Claret from the cellar. It was so fresh, it was absolutely captivating. Quite surprising for the age.

If you had asked me 3 years ago, if I would be making wine, I would say NO. I didn't see it coming at all... I fell into it through family but also, it's ridiculous in hindsight to think I wouldn't fall into it. Dinner parties are my mainstay, ever since I was little. My parents make wine, and that really is my life. Food and wine, and thinking about what we are putting in our mouth. I suppose it was always going to be a natural progression.

Your wine label name is 'Nature of the Beast'. Tell us about it?

I like the name because I want to make wine that shows place and variety. Hence the word, 'Nature'. I don't ever want to make something heavy or tricked up. I just want it to taste like nature. It's important to me, to create a product that reflects where is was grown and not interfere with that. I want to be as true to the fruit as I can. And it's funny, because that is my philosophy, but I think people assume I am a "natural" wine producer (because Nature), when really, I am actually trying to be representative of variety and place. Also, as a baby, my parents would refer me as 'the beast'.

How are your folks?

They are great. I still live with them... we will have a quiet Christmas for once this year. No family coming to stay! Will be relatively relaxing.

You're pretty 'young'.... Do you use Tik Tok?

I do have Tik Tok, but, I would be too mortified to post anything. I have friends that use it.

There are a few wine Tik Toks that have come up. A whole lot of kids commenting on them which I find hilarious and annoying. These are kids that probably haven't even tasted wine, so it's odd that they even comment. I do think some people nail it when it comes to Tik Tok, but personally I get too frustrated to invest much time in it. For example, one guy posted a video of Chris Catlow (my winemaking friend) waxing his bottles, and there were bottles in the background under screwcap, so people were commenting "why would you wax screwcap". Of course he wasn't. But it's just a bit tedious.

Favourite wine moment? Favourite part of the process?

To do with my wine? Or bottles I have drunk? In my winemaking, I would say that 'barrel tasting' and seeing the pace of change in the wine is my favourite. Tasting how different barrels can vary so much from one to another. Wine is alive and they all have personalities. I love to taste, think and consider - especially about the final blend. The first time I finalised a blend was so incredibly exciting. That was my Macedon Chardonnay.

Tell us about your Rosé. Why do you make Rosé? (I mean, we know, it's incredible) but it is a rather 'serious' style and is one of the best we have tasted all year. What's your secret?

The first Rosé that I ever tasted that truly excited me, was from Domenica (PG's) how much texture and savouriness he manages to get into his Rosé. Not that I am trying to emulate his style, I'm just not interested in sweet and sappy Rosé. I prefer texture! And I really like the fennel and saline note in my Nebbiolo Rosé.

Why did you choose Nebbiolo for Rosé?

Well, it's hard to avoid 'Nebb' at my place. It's a great variety for Rosé because of the phenolics and acidity. It can make Rosé both serious and seriously good.

What else do you love, apart from wine?

Food. And my dog Charlie - a Border Collie. Food and wine... they just go hand in hand.

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