From Vineyard To Table
There has always been a special relationship between food and wine. It’s well known that wine pairings can delve into layers of texture and flavour that envelop your senses and enhance your experience of food. Here, Matt Fowles, owner and CEO of Fowles Wine, sits down with Jacqueline Foy of Wineries of Victoria to share his unique celebration of provenance and flavour, and how he’s built an understanding of how to hunt, grow and blend to create harmonious taste experiences from vineyard to table.
Although Fowles comes from a long line of farmers and has always been drawn to nature, he grew up in the city. Fowles considers himself a ‘recovering lawyer’ who swapped the legal vitriol for the vineyard when he took over Fowles Wine in 2006 – his time at the vineyard has fostered his passion for real food and nurtured a philosophy that connects the food and wine produced at the vineyard back to their source. Fowles encourages a deeper social awareness about where our food comes from, and this has become the driving force behind all aspects of the Fowles Wine brand.
THE ETHOS OF REAL FOOD
Growing grapes and making wine made Fowles think differently about everything we consume. “I wanted to know more about where it came from, how it was treated and the people behind it,” he says. “What we do is driven by our love for our region and our passion for connecting with the land,” Fowles explains, “it’s a way of life – there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t practice it,” he says. The restaurant at Fowles Wine is inherently linked to this real food philosophy, where the team hopes to offer visitors an insight into the region and bring them closer to the land.
“I am obsessed with food and wine and connecting with them at the source,” Fowles says, “if this means butchering my own lamb, making salami each year, or hunting meat in the wild, then I gladly do it.” The family started growing organic vegetables and slaughtering their own farm raised meat from Fowles’ parents’ farm ‘Killeen’ at Longwood, and quickly adopted sustainable farming practices in the vineyard. Fowles learned to hunt and eat meat from the wild and embraces the values and philosophy of sustainable and ethically sourced produce from the land. Fowles Wine’s restaurant utilises farm-grown vegetables from ‘Killeen’ and herbs grown on site and harvested by the chefs each day. Fowles notes that a chicken coop is being constructed to showcase a true farm to table experience with fresh site-grown eggs and to “close the loop” as the chickens will feed off the kitchen scraps.
A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
Fowles Wine’s restaurant reflects their guiding philosophy – the menu is driven by the best seasonal, local and sustainable produce available. “At the restaurant, we let the ingredients do the talking by preparing simple but delicious dishes,” Fowles says. “We believe in ethical and sustainable practices and aim to inspire social consciousness about the source of our food,” he explains.
Every dish on Fowles Wine’s menu is created to match with one of their wines. “At the core of it all, we are winemakers; we want our food to complement the wine that we craft,” Fowles explains, “we want wine to be an approachable delicacy that everyone can enjoy and understand through food,” he continues. Head Chef Michelle Capuso and Executive Chef Josephine Prendergast work hard to ensure that each dish showcases the very best of the Strathbogie Ranges and Fowles Wine’s cool climate wines through the food, Fowles explains. “With that said, when we are making the wine we are thinking about food – we want the wine to be bright, fresh and balanced which is a great starting point for food and wine matching,” he says.
Fowles gives the example of a crowd-favourite main: the lamb tagine with dates and coriander seed, warm couscous and herbed yoghurt – “a beautifully spiced dish paired with our Stone Dwellers 2020 Mourvèdre,” Fowles says. With notes of dark plum and blackberry melding with hints of black pepper and olive, ultra fine, mouth coating tannins and a smooth finish the mourvèdre perfectly complements the rich, hearty lamb dish. For the more adventurous, Fowles recommends seasonal wild game specials such as coconut and lime leaf confit duck leg with orange glaze, wombok and Asian herb salad; deliciously matched with the Are you Game? 2021 Pinot Noir, with dusty tannins and bright red fruits.
ARE YOU GAME?
As the world’s first winery to blend wine to specifically complement wild game meats, Fowles Wine’s Ladies who Shoot their Lunch range embodies Fowles’ values and philosophy of connecting people to the “whole natural world”.
In Fowles’ words: “the cyclical journey and symbiotic relationship between land, animals, food and humans.” The brand and label are inspired by Fowles’ own passion for hunting and gathering, and the wines are crafted to complement the textures and flavours of wild food in an increasingly globalised world of mass production. “These wines aim to inspire social consciousness, promote meat with merit and bring consumers closer to the source of food and wine,” Fowles says of the driving force behind the brand.
An ode to the origin of meat and socially conscious consumption Fowles Wines aims to prompt engagement by putting a challenge to the consumer with their two game-focused ranges. “Our Ladies who Shoot their Lunch and Are you Game? wines are made to walk the fine line between complementing the qualities of wild game meat whilst not overwhelming them,” Fowles explains. “The region in which they are grown definitely helps, but there are specific attributes we focus on, including aromatic profile and texture, which supports the match with wild game.” Intensely aromatic yet light bodied and fine in texture, each Are you Game? wine is blended with a dash of an alternative varietal to add complexity and encourage discovery in food and wine.
“We select the best fruit from our coolest sites, meaning, like the game itself, it has ripened slowly and gradually accumulated intense colour, aroma and flavour,” Fowles explains. As the texture of game can be challenging due to its lean and dense character, Fowles want to create wines with suppleness and complementary textural elements to play a supporting role to the meat. One way that Fowles does this by blending with alternative varieties – “these varieties contribute different textural qualities that help build a silkiness in the palate,” he says.
The ethos of real food permeates through the entirety of the business at Fowles Wine and creates a truly unique winery experience, from vineyard to table.
Images courtesy of Fowles Wine