I like earthy, savoury/umami flavours and find game delivers that indefinable character in spades. Although I live in Orange, I’m not a ‘shooter’ so my game comes from the local venison producer Mandagery Creek or our top notch butcher, M & J’s. My jumbo quail comes from Game Farm at Galston on the outskirts of Sydney.
Spanish-style Quail with jamon and fresh grapes + 2017 Mengoba Brezo Mencia, Bierzo, Spain, A$28
Slow cooking is the key here, with the quail wrapped in jamon to keep the flesh from drying out. I use the usual onion, garlic, carrot and celery mirepoix and halve the grapes to allow the juice to run – a splash of verjuice and white wine keeps things moist. A light-framed red suits the quail – my new-found love of mencia is well-satisfied with this bright, breezy take from Mengoba Brezo.
Rabbit ragu with pappardelle + 2018 Rowlee Single Vineyard Nebbiolo, Orange, A$50
It’s worth the fuss to buy and cook a whole rabbit, strip the meat and make a simple Italianate ragu. Although I’m the main household cook, this is my wife’s recipe. It’s a real family affair, with my daughter hand rolling the pappardelle using her new pasta machine. I open the wine, in this case a perfumed nebbiolo from the rising stars at Rowlee. The wine’s youthful exuberance is enhanced with some aeration in my favourite Riedel Amadeo decanter.
Kangaroo fillet with beetroot risotto + 2017 Springs Road Shiraz, Kangaroo Island, A$40
The trick with the kangaroo fillet is to either sear it quickly or take a slow cooking path. I dust the fillets with a Moroccan spice, sear for two to three minutes each side and rest the meat well. The beetroot risotto draws out the earthy flavours of the meat. The matched shiraz comes from a mature Kangaroo Island vineyard that’s now in the careful hands of the Battle of Bosworth team, who hop across from McLaren Vale to tend and pick the grapes.
Slow-cooked Wallaby shanks + 2015 Bannockburn De La Roche Shiraz, Geelong, A$67
I was first served this recipe at Cradle Mountain Lodge in Tasmania. The shanks came from Lenah Game Meat – co-owner John Kelly is an inspirational ambassador for the sustainability of wild game. The wine match was a pinot noir (we were in Tasmania) but I reckon this complex, earthy yet energetic shiraz from Bannockburn is a better match. The De La Roche’s pumice-like tannins effortlessly mop up the gamey richness of the dish.
Venison pie + 2013 Château Montus Madiran, South West France, A$52
Sophie and Tim Hansen are behind Mandagery Creek Venison – in their early days they attended every farmers’ market in Orange and Sydney. Their family-sized venison pies have become a local legend with deep, rich and punchy flavours that cry out for an equally brash red wine. The native grape of Madiran is tannat; the name says it all with bold black fruit flavours and dense sinewy tannins. It needs some substantial protein and a rich red wine sauce – the venison pie is just that.
Venison prosciutto + 2016 Salomon Estate The Verve Free Red, Fleurieu Peninsula, A$30
Margaret River Venison sells all sorts of fresh meat and venison-based charcuterie – the venison prosciutto is terrific. Almost any lithe-framed brightly fruited red would work with the prosciutto, but I love what Bert Salomon is doing at his Finniss River vineyard. The Verve says it all with this juicy blend of shiraz and mataro bottled early to retain its youthful, red berry fruit flavours. Acid shares equal place with the slinky tannins. Chill on a warm day
There’s a wide discussion about our environment, sustainability and agriculture. Meanwhile, we have the most amazing meat literally hopping around. Lean, high in protein and free range – kangaroo meat ticks all the boxes.