Mac Forbes was born and raised in the Yarra Valley, but it was in fact the southwest of France that influenced his decision into winemaking. At the age of 19 Mac Forbes was back in Melbourne and undertaking a degree in science, and then oenology in Adelaide. This was followed by a stint at Mount Mary, one of Yarra Valley’s best wineries, thereafter heading to London where he stepped away from hands-on wine work. On his return to Melbourne in 2004, he began preparing to release a vintage, at a time when the world was in love with big, extracted reds that Australia seemed to be churning out by the truckload. Mac had different ideas, though. One criticism of Australian wine was that they failed to feature a sense of ‘terroir’, or the environment in which the grapes were grown. He had noticed that some sites in the Yarra Valley had experienced a change in their terroir, becoming warmer, which then stripped away some of the complexity and elegance from wines such as Pinot Noir. Mac searched for cooler sites, in the process of establishing his own vineyards and sourcing fruit from premium local locations. Mac has his EB (Experimental Batch) label, where he, as the name suggests, experiments with different techniques, such as maturing Riesling on its skins (usually a big no-no), or making a Syrah in the style of a Beaujolais nouveau.
In addition to Mac’s experimental wines, such as the ‘EB38 Showdown #2 Pinot Noir Syrah’, a blend made famous in the Hunter Valley, there is also: ‘Coldstream Pinot Noir’, a wine of ‘elegance and quiet power’; and the ‘Hugh Cabernet Blend’, a sumptuous display of black fruit, cedar and spice, with great length.
For more information on Mac and his array of wines, check out his website.