AT THE BAR WITH WINEMAKER AND WALKLEY AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST MAHMOOD FAZAL

When he’s not reporting on the meth-amphetamine drug trafficking racquet between Asia and Australia, Four Corners investigative reporter and writer Mahmood Fazal is fussing over wine and admiring the fruits of his labour – a debut shiraz with his name on it.

Fazal moved to regional Victoria six years ago, and these days splits his time between stints in Melbourne and Sydney. He talks to The Write Drop about his favourite local haunts and the bars that always have a seat at the ready for him.

This Saturday 27th April, Fazal takes over the wine list at the newly refurbished indoor-outdoor courtyard at Poodle Patio on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. It’s where you’ll get to sample a glass of his namesake shiraz too. The event kicks off at 1pm until late.

The $65 banquet is equally compelling – think torched bonito, rolled fig and chervil, terrine du jour, charcoal grilled dark heart and guanciale skewer, hanger steak with pepper jus and of course, fries. The wines are priced separately.

Where his reportage is fact heavy and almost scientific, Fazal rolls with the punches when it comes to winemaking.

“Wine making is abstract and it’s based on the senses,” says Mahmood Fazal.

“It’s completely impressionistic and idiosyncratic. As an investigative reporter, everything is fact orientated and one needs to be scientifically precise in the way we find facts and tell a story to the audience. Making wine is the complete opposite – it’s almost theoretical and elemental and out of our control,” he adds.

“It’s a weird symbiosis between the weather, your personality and how an audience tastes it. It’s also the reason I like it so much.”

It was a trip to San Sebastian, Spain six years ago that kick started his appetite for fine wine, and the rest is an exploration of wine and the making of that’s ever evolving.

“Once I moved to Central Victoria, I started to drink more local wines that were farmed well by local producers,” says Fazal.

“That’s when I discovered Josh Cooper’s wines and offered to help him out. One thing led to another, and it was winemaker Andy Ainsworth who owns Bar Merenda, who offered to source me some grapes and my own wine journey began,” says Fazal.

The Poodle Patio event will also be a chance for diners to indulge in a glass of Josh Cooper’s Sauvignon Blanc and Andy Ainsworth’s rosè to name a few.

MY REGION + CITY

I moved to Central Victoria six years ago, and get to Melbourne often. I love how culturally rich and diverse it is – I can eat Mauritian food at Manze in North Melbourne and have amazing thai at Soi 38. The cultural tapestry of Melbourne keeps it fresh for me. In Central Victoria I have a balance of that too –where everything is rustic, seasonal, slow and menus are worn into the fabric of the area which I love. They have that country bistro energy in places like Brae Restaurant and Bar Merenda and Chauncy in Heathcote.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

I had a memorable Sichuan dinner at Bar Merenda, Daylesford – a one-off night which was extremely fun.  France-Soir restaurant in South Yarra is always a great spot. For me food memories revolve around a concept of the food, wine, hospitality and the people you’re with. We have our end of season luncheons at France-Soir – they’re the best day of the year. We eat sheep brains, rabbit, steak with frites on the side and we drink all of the best wines we have accumulated throughout the year.

FAVOURITE BAR

I love spending late nights at Poodle Bar and Bistro on Gertrude Street with Alex because he’ll take us down to the cellar and pull things off the shelves that aren’t on the list and we stay until ungodly hours drinking. Last time I was there I drank Jules Desjourneys Fleurie Les Moriers 2014 – a moving wine made by the negociant for Romanée-Conti. This Fleurie is just exquisite, ethereal, dense – a high-definition red fruit that’s moving and beautiful.

A DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOU

Chartreuse. I have a bottle at home and always like to have a drink at home.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

The last time I was really hungover, I went to Gimlet and had two very dry gin martinis and caviar service.

BEST INTERSTATE BARS

I always go to Bar Copains in Sydney to visit my friend Morgy [Morgan McGlone], Paski – to visit Giorgio Di Maria and Chez Crix where my mate Jackson works. I’m always bugging him to stay open late for me. They’re all people I know who are extremely passionate drinkers and eaters themselves. They’re passionate about food and wine more than anything – it’s the life force of their personalities and the reason why I am friends with them and that extends to me eating and drinking at their venues because I love sharing the passion with them.

FAVOURITE WINERY

It would have to be Cobaw Ridge Winery in Macedon Ranges, because it’s where I spend any spare time I have. I love being a cellar hand here and because love their wines – the LaGrein and Chardonnay.

FAVOURITE WINE

Josh Cooper Balgownie because it’s the wine I love to drink and it’s Victorian. It’s also a wine that really made sense of this region to me and everything I love about wine drinking.

NEXT DESTINATION

I’d love to go back to London with my wife and eat at St. John Restaurant and order their sea-urchins and bone marrow with a bottle of claret.

EVENT DETAILS:

APRIL 27TH

POODLE PATIO

1PM UNTIL LATE

https://www.sevenrooms.com/experiences/poodlebarbistro/-75pp-mahmood-fazal-wine-lunch-11287287636

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