Fresh Truffles for winter and a whole lot more

Date: 01-Apr-2008 News Blog

The Wine and Truffle Company Kirks are pleased to announce, we have just agreed on a distribution arrangement with the biggest Truffle producer in Australia, The Wine and Truffle Co.

Over seven years ago, a group of people from various parts of Australia, with a shared love for all things fine in food and wine, had a vision of collaborating to produce the finest of wines and establishing the largest trufferie in the southern hemisphere.

The enthusiasm and expertise of this group led them to a small, rich horticultural region of Western Australia. Nestled between the mighty Jarrah and Karri forests east of Margaret River, lay the fertile stretches of Manjimup.

The richness of the soils and the cool climate here are ideally suited to growing premium grapes and black truffles. Such is the bountiful nature of the region, that it produced the coveted Winestate Award (2001) for the best Merlot in Australia and New Zealand.

Their Vision It was here that the Wine and Truffle Company chose to turn their vision into reality, and where they planted around 13,000 truffle inoculated hazelnut and oak trees, and sturdy vines on which to develop their dream.

Their Success The Wine and Truffle Company vines have now produced their forth vintage ? received with resounding success and acclaim. They have continued to win many prestigious awards and accolades throughout Australia.

In spite of its awards, the Wine and Truffle Company?s board of directors have insisted on keeping the prices of their premium wines to affordable levels at local restaurants, wine stores or direct from our mail order service.

The trees of the trufferie continue to mature under the expert guidance, nurturing and monitoring of the Company?s mycologist. The hazelnut trees produced their first crop of nuts in 2002, and the very first and highly valued Truffle (Tuber Melanosporum) was discovered amid much excitement in July 2003.

More about Truffles: There are about thirty different varieties of truffles in Europe but only a few have any gustative qualities. Most truffles mature in winter, some in summer, a few others in the fall. To the untrained eye, all black truffles look very similar on the outside but the color of the flesh varies greatly, along with the taste and the aroma.

oTuber Melanosporum (truffe du P?gord).

For thousands of years, the truffle, one of nature's noblest gastronomic ingredients has been synonymous with banquets, conviviality and unforgettable moments of savoury delight. The black winter truffle is THE ONE that everybody raves about. In the Northern Hemisphere It reaches maturity between December 1 and March 31 (in fact it has a fuller taste in February than in December). In the Southern Hemisphere maturity is between June and end of August. In Europe it can be found in southwestern and southeastern France and also in some parts of Spain and Italy. "Terroir" has no impact on the quality of the product: a melano from Tarragon, Spain will taste the same as one from Carpentras, France. The only difference may be in the shape of the truffle: when it grows in a sandy area, it is rounder and smoother; when it grows among rocks, its shape will be more irregular. Most of all, the melano needs the conjunction of a certain type of tree (oaks for the most part, or hazelnut trees), a certain type of soil (chalky) and a certain type of climate (Mediterranean; hot summers scattered with rain storms; no harsh freezes). Attempts to replicate the symbiosis truffle/tree and cultivate truffles have had limited success: even when the necessary conditions for truffle development are recreated, there is no guarantee that truffles will indeed grow. The melano is born early May and grows during the summer. Early on, it has a reddish scaly skin; it turns black when the truffle is ripe. The flesh is firm, purplish-black and shows some fine white veins.

To get the truffles ready for consumption or processing, they are brushed to remove the dirt that clings to them. They used to be washed by hand but professionals have a device reminiscent of a small washing machine: the truffles are placed in a rotating drum equipped with sets of soft bristles and nozzles that dispense warm water. Then, a small notch is made with a sharp knife to expose the flesh, check the veins and feel the texture. Finally, the truffles are sorted by variety and by quality (whole or pieces, aroma, degree of maturity). By the time the truffles are cleaned and sorted, 20% of the initial weight has been lost. Some will be sold as fresh truffles, others will be used in our Value Added Product range so that they can be enjoyed year-around.

Fresh truffles have a very heady, earthy aroma, especially when they are at peak maturity; if you eat a raw truffle, the aroma lingers in your esophagus for hours. When truffles are first sterilized for bottling (1? cuisson or first boil), they render 20% of their weight in truffle juice; their aroma is not weakened, just transformed (in fact, some people prefer the taste of 1st boil truffles to that of fresh truffles); the juice is a true nectar that will give incredible dimension to any sauce. A 1st boil truffle is the product that top restaurants use when fresh truffles are not available. Consumers are not so fortunate: the overwhelming majority of canned truffles on the market are 2nd boil, where the truffle juice and the truffle are canned separately a second time, in smaller containers: during this second sterilization, the truffle does lose a lot of aroma, but the price tag does not go down. In addition, a canned melano, brumale and indicum will look exactly the same after being sterilized: they all lose their white veins and the flesh becomes uniformly black. The bottom line is: buyers beware! Read the labels carefully: the mere mention "truffles" does not give you any clue as to which variety of truffle is in the container. And if "1? cuisson" or "1? ?llition" is not specified, you may still pay some good money for your truffle and wonder what the fuss is all about...

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