Autumn is the best time to visit my hometown of Orange. The grapes are being picked for the table and wine, so too lush figs, a huge variety of apples, the last of the plums and my favourite breakfast food, rhubarb. Add the beautiful weather and autumnal Orange is a treat.
Quince AND Lamb Tagine with chermoula and buttered couscous + 2016 Salomon Estate The Verve Free Red, Fleurieu, A$30
I've reworked an old Andy Harris recipe to suit the autumnal focus. Quinces are the most misunderstood fruit with an amazing versatility – either in a savoury dish or poached, and who can live without quince paste. The zing of the chermoula brings together the sweetness of the lamb and the earthy flavours of the quince. The red wine (yes, it must be red) needs enough flavour to meet that of the recipe with understated tannins to avoid a clash with the spicy chermoula. Bert Salomon’s Red has the verve (pun intended) to do both.
Duck AND plums À la Kylie Kwong + 2017 Picardy Pinot Noir, Pemberton, A$43
I’ve channelled Kylie’s signature duck dish here – without deep-frying the duck and using local blood plums, as Davidson’s plums aren’t grown locally. Duck and pinot noir is a must and I’d willingly uncap a local pinot, but I think the delicate balance and distinct umami flavours of Dan Pannell’s Estate Pinot are just right here.
Cordornices Braseadas con Uvas + 2018 López Cristobal Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Spain, A$30
I have a 30-year-old cookbook, Spain on a Plate, by María José Sevilla and it’s marvellous. Simple local recipes that are easy to cook. This one translates to ‘quails braised with grapes’ and it’s a dinner party favourite. The quails are wrapped in jamon to keep them moist, the grapes keep things juicy and a drop of brandy adds a kick. Here it’s mandatory to pop the cork on an Español tempranillo with this drop from Ribera del Duero a perfect partner.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roast Pork Belly with Apple, Soy and Ginger + 2019 Apogee Alto Pinot Gris, Tasmania, A$44
Autumnal apples subdue the richness of pork belly in this recipe. I’ve always championed pinot gris with pork – but pick one in the lush, plush Alsace mode, not a simpering grigio style. Andrew Pirie pioneered Tasmanian pinot gris and his Alto continues that vision. Skin contact, a parcel in seasoned oak and malolactic fermentation all play a role in building the power and complexity of the wine (don’t over chill it). It fits nicely with the punchy pork.
Fig, goat curd, roasted walnuts & rocket salad + 2018 Graci Etna Rosato DOC, Sicily, Italy, A$41
This simple salad is a family favourite and the perfect entrée before the pork belly. Jannei goat curd is the best in the country and it’s nice to support the Lidsdale dairy that was surrounded by fire earlier this year. Take care when roasting the walnuts and choose the ripest figs you can find. A savoury semillon sauvignon blanc would work or perhaps an arneis. But this Mt Etna rosé was in the fridge and its synergy with the luscious figs sealed the combination.
Rhubarb crumble + 2016 Liliac & Kracher Ice Wine, Transylvania, Romania, A$72/375ml
I regularly poach rhubarb for breakfast but every now and then my daughter demands a crumble. As always, desserts and dessert wines are difficult to match but this curio caught my eye. It’s a collaboration between Austrian sweet wine maestro Gerhard Kracher and Rudolf Krizan, a grape-growing friend at Liliac in Romania. It’s a quirky blend of 71% neuburger, 23% pinot gris and 6% muscat ottonel, the lush flavours cut with a refreshing acidity that’s in tandem with the tart flavours of the rhubarb.