Sexy Tasmanian truffles and pinot

A combination you'll want to enjoy over and over....

Graeme Phillips
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Fresh black truffles from Perigord Truffles of Tasmania

Fresh black truffles from Perigord Truffles of Tasmania [©Photographer: Peter Whyte]

A fresh black truffle from Perigord Truffles of Tasmania
Truffle harvest season - Perigord Truffles of Tasmania
A fresh black truffle from Perigord Truffles of Tasmania
Peter Cooper and Duncan Garvey of Perigord Truffles of Tasmania

 

Pinot noir shines in Tasmania, despite the ambivalence of early viticultural advice. Truffles also received a frosty response from the experts, but both products are thriving and developing a very sexy international reputation.

Despite a number of small but successful vineyards in the early colonial days, when pioneers of Tasmania’s modern wine industry began planting vines in the 1960s and 70s, the advice of the agricultural boffins was to plant apples, cherries or apricots instead. Tasmania was too cold to ripen grapes, they said, and denied the earliest producer a license to sell his wines.

Twenty years later, in 1995, when Duncan Garvey and Peter Cooper had the bright idea of growing black Perigord truffles in Tasmania and exporting them to the world in France’s off season, the best advice they received from many of the same agricultural experts was a dismissive “good luck”.

As it turned out, Lady Luck smiled on both ventures and Tasmania today has over 300 vineyards yielding some 10,000 tonnes of fruit and Garvey’s and Cooper’s company, Perigord Truffles of Tasmania, this winter harvested almost half a tonne of black gold from 47 trufferies in Tasmania and interstate. Tasmanian wines are exported to the UK, USA, Scandinavia and Asia while the black truffles have graced the royal tables of Denmark and those of the high rollers in Macau, Hong Kong and Japan, both at prices somewhat more rewarding than for apples, cherries or apricots.

But pinot and truffles share something more than Lady Luck’s smile. Putting it as politely as possible, it’s called sex.

Political correctness aside, pinot noir is often referred to as a feminine wine, as opposed to the more muscular, masculine wines of cabernet and shiraz. In their youth, the aromas and flavours of Tasmanian pinots range the spectrum from light strawberry and raspberry through ripe cherries to dark plums. At around 18 months or two years of age, many go into a bit of an adolescent sulk before then emerging deeper, darker and more complex developing at maturity to show what many tasters refer to as autumnal mushroom aromas and flavours, characters which others, more poetically or perhaps with wishful thinking, liken to sex on the forest floor.

Now, in Europe, it’s claimed that sows and bitches – female pigs and dogs – are best at smelling out truffles, attracted by the fungi’s musky aroma. French folklore goes further, claiming virgins are best, virgin sows and bitches, only bettered by virgin spinsters whose noses, on smelling a truffle, they say, turn red and point the way.

Like most folklore there’s a grain of peasant truth in these beliefs for analysis has shown that a truffle’s aroma is chemically similar to hormones secreted in male sweat, saliva and other secretions – literally, if you like, sex on, or in this case, under the forest floor. Smell a freshly dug truffle and you’ll see why.

Put the two together – a fresh black truffle and a velvety, rounded, fully mature and feminine pinot noir - and you have what we might delicately call a delicious partnership. Add a little wild duck, rare-grilled venison, a casserole of field-shot hare, a sprinkle of snow and the wood smoke of an open fire and it’s why winter, Tasmania’s truffle time, is the cuddliest time to visit the state.

Regions

  • Hobart (TAS)
  • Southern Tasmania (TAS)

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