Truffles & Truffières
Truffles are in the fungi (mushroom family). They are the fruiting body of a fungus which grows underground in symbiotic relationship with the roots of certain types of trees which are native to Europe.
Truffles commonly range
from 25 gm to half a kilo
The French Perigord Black Truffle ( Tuber melansosporum ) comes from the Perigord region of France and has been considered a delicacy for centuries. The Perigord truffle is the most commonly grown in Australia.
A truffière (pronounced trooff-yeah), is a forest plantation of oaks or hazelnut trees that have been inoculated with the truffle fungus. The most common oak species used are Quercus ilex (Holly Oak) and Quercus robur (English Oak).
Truffles begin to grow when trees are around four to six years old, however at French Black Truffles in Canberra they had their first truffle after only two and half years - a record!
Picking truffles when they are mature (at the height of their flavour) is the secret to truffling success.They mature in winter so harvest around the country generally goes from June to late August.
Storing truffles in a sealed glass container is a good way to maintain flavour. Most truffles will last around two to three weeks after picking but are best eaten within 10 days. Truffles have a lot of water in them so wrap them in an absorbant paper towel and change that towel every day, thereby you will keep them fresh.
Mature truffle - black with white veins
Australia's truffle wine regions
Australia is a very lucky country gastronomically speaking. We can pick tropical fruits in our north while at the same time harvest Truffles, in cold regions to the south and south west of our country.
Nearly all our truffièries our found in wine regions. In Tasmania where the first truffièries were established, the whole island is designated a wine zone. In New South Wales the cool climate wine regions of Orange on the Central Tablelands and Canberra District, which also extends into the ACT, have boosted production in recent years. Just outside Melbourne in the Yarra Valley, truffles are being harvested and in Western Australia, the Manjimup Wine Region has a thriving truffle industry. In this article we explore the world of the truffle on a journey through the wine regions of Australia were truffles are harvested from mid June to early September.
grade 1 truffles and
wonderful Pinot Noir and
Sparkling Wines to match
The first truffières in Australia was established by Perigord Truffles of Tasmania in 1993. The freezing cold winters and free draining soil were the essential truffle growing conditions that Duncan Garvey and Peter Cooper needed for their enterprise. By 2000 they sold their first commercial sized truffles to Claude's Restaruant in Sydney, marking the successful start of the truffle industry in Australia. Since then they have sold truffles domestically and exported truffles to Japan, Hong Kong and Europe.
At the same time Tim Terry of Tasmanian Truffles Enterprises was also pioneering truffle growing in Tasmania and has produced the first summer harvested truffle, Tuber aestivium , which he is hoping will prove popular with foodies in the off season. He also established Truffles Australis as a means of growing the industry through the provision of consultancy and nursery services.
Research has been the backbone of the industry in Tasmania along with marketing expertise which has seen Australia's truffles accepted as a top quality product around the world.
It should come as no surprise that Tasmania is also a cool climate wine zone which producers wonderfully high quality Pinot Noir and Sparkling wines which are amongst the best wine styles to match with truffles.
Canberra District Wine Region
In the Canberra region ... "the season is cold, which is ideal for maturing the truffle" says Sherry McArdle-English.
Sherry with truffle dog
Snuffy harvesting truffles
on their Canberra farm
Sherry and her husband Gavan are one of pioneers of the truffle industry in Canberra establishing their truffière in 2004. Gavan's health was being undermined by Parkinson's Disease and they realised that they needed a hobby for a positive focus. "I stumbled into the intriguing world of truffle growing, and with great enthusiasm I organised a day trip for us both to Tasmania to trudge through the oak and hazelnut trees while following the sniffer dogs, as they foraged for the elusive truffle - we were on our first truffle hunt" said Sherry.
Now they have 2,500 oak trees under cultivation and with their truffle dog Snuffy, an American Cocker Spaniel, they harvest enough truffles to supply local restaurants and markets as well as selling online.
Also a pioneer in the Canberra District is Wayne Haslam of Blue Frog Truffle Farm at Sutton who planted his property in 2003 and first harvested truffles in 2007. He was instrumental in establishing the Canberra and Capital Region Truffle Festival which runs from 21 June to 31 July and has wonderful experiences from truffle hunts to cooking classes and talks, tastings and dinners, making Canberra the place to be in winter - and that's amazing!
Canberra District wine match. Lark Hill 2010 Pinot Noir
"... gamey with hints of herbs, forest floor and dark cherry". This biodynamically grown wine is an excellent match for truffles, as it is grown in a chemcial free environment. "The fundamental of a healthy biodynamic farm is soil and soil fungi; we do not use herbicides and continually aim to build and improve our soil and soil biota, with soil fungi being pivotal to the health and diversity of our farm, says Sue Carpenter co-founder of Lark Hill Wines in 1978.
Young dog sniffing a truffle in
readiness for the hunt at Borrodell
The Orange Wine Region in the Central Ranges of NSW is one of the highest wine regions in Australia at 1100m above sea level. Consequently Orange has very cold winters with much frost and snow, perfect for truffle growing.
Borrodell Vineyard produces quality wines and they also have orchards and a truffière which has been bountiful in recent years. They host special truffle events in July and August each year to celebrate the wine and truffle eclispe.
But they are not alone, the Orange region is one of the finest cool climate regions in Australia producing very fine
Pinots, Sparkling wine and Chardonay which all match well with truffle.
Food & Wine Match
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Yarra Valley Truffles is a relative newcomer to the scene establishing their plantation in 2006. With a mix of oak and hazelnut trees grown on red volcanic soil, they have been able to reap a bountiful harvest supplying restaurants in the Yarra Valley and Melbourne. Owner Stuart Dunbar thinks that first truffle taste is key, so he aims for mature aromatic truffles every time. "Truffles are a great flavour enhancer for pasta and egg dishes. Just 3-5 grams of truffle is all that's needed to make these dishes and that makes it very affordable", says Stuart.
Stuart's truffière is surrounded by vineyards, home to some of the finest Sparkling wines and Pinot Noir in Australia. The Yarra Valley wine list is extensive and so to are the number of restaurants in the Valley. Only an hour and half from Melbourne a truffle day trip or weekend is a great winter experience.
Manjimup, Western Australia
Truffle Crème Brulee
40 gms French black truffle
6 egg yolks
2 ½ cups of truffle infused cream
4 tablespoons of castor sugar
2 tablespoons castor sugar (extra)
Cream: Finely grate truffle and add to cream, and store in covered glass container for 48 hours in refrigerator)
Place eggs in a sealed glass jar with paper towel and a 40 gram truffle inside for 48 hours to allow the truffle aroma and taste to permeate through the egg shell.
Remove the eggs and the truffle from glass jar.
Separate the egg whites from yolks and place the egg yolks and 4 tablespoons sugar in a bowl. Beat until thick and creamy.
Place truffle infused cream in saucepan and stir over heat until it is about to boil. Do NOT boil, and remove from heat immediately.
Add cream to egg yolk mixture, and beat until combined
Add water to bottom section of double saucepan and simmer the water
Pour cream mixture into the top of a double saucepan and stir until mixture lightly adheres to the back of a wooden spoon, approximately 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and pour into heatproof ramekin dishes.
Bake in a slow oven for 20 minutes
Remove from oven and cool.
5 minutes prior to serving, sprinkle top of each dish with sugar, and using a burner, brown the sugar on the top of the cream brulee.
Recipe: Sherry McArdle-English
I dare say many of us don't think of Western Australia when considering the cold regions of Australia, but in Manjimup the Mediterranean climate is sufficently cold at night to grow truffles and now the region is the largest producer of truffles in the southern hemisphere.
For a mix made in heaven it does'nt get any better than truffles and wine which is exactly the combination the Wine & Truffle Company have established their reputation on. The Wine & Truffle Company have worked hard to provide visitors with a comprehensive experience running tours of the truffière and truffle hunts, so you can see the dogs in action. You can also taste, eat and purchase their wide range of truffle infused products including, salt, oil, butter, vinegar, mustard and honey at their cellar door and cafe.
Oak Valley Truffles is also another major grower in the region, established by Wally and Kerry Edwards. Wally, was the former managing director of The Wine & Truffle Company and established, along with Dr Nick Malajczuk, a former CSIRO scientist, the truffle industry in WA.
This 100 year old oak at
Oak Valley Truffles was planted
before truffles came to Australia
signifies the future growth to come.
The climate and soils were identified as being closely alienged to French growing conditions so with further research a truffière was established. Fresh truffles and truffle infused products are available online from their web site.
The truffle season in Australia straddles the winter months usually starting around mid June and going through to early September.
The season is celebrated all over Australia in restaurants who lavish attention on these rare seasonal delicacies through to festivals which give people the opportunity to immerse themselves in truffle culture - with tastings, lunches and dinners, cooking classes, truffle dog shows and truffle hunts. It is very much the case of meet the dog then meet the chef during truffle season.
Chefs Sophie Budd and Alain Fabrègues
vie for the rare delicacy with
Verity James of the Mundaring Truffle Festival
Photo courtesy: Oak Valley Truffles
Blue Frog Truffle Farm (Canberra District, NSW)
Terra Preta Truffles (NSW)
Lowes Mount Truffiere (NSW)
Truffles Australis (Tas)
Yarra Valley Truffles (Vic)
Oak Valley Truffles (WA)
Restaurants in wine regions with truffle events
Lark Hill Winery Restaurant Canberra District, NSW
Le Très Bon Bungendore, NSW - Chef Chrisophe
DIECI e MEZZO Canberra City - Chef Adam Bantock
Sister's Rock Restaurant Orange, NSW - Chef Alan Meaney
STILLwater Launceston, Tas - Chef Craig Will
The Loose Box Mundaring, WA - Chef Alain Fabrègues
Taste Budds Cooking Studio WA - Chep Sophie Budd
Wineries with Truffieries and Events
Borrodell Vineyard (Orange, NSW)
Lark Hill Winery (Canberra District, NSW)
The Wine & Truffle Company (Manjimup, WA)
"On and on we go
Through this old world a shuffling
If you've got a truffle dog
You can go truffling"
Wine Diva Editorial June 2012