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Food

The Essential Beef and Wine Pairing Guide

Find the perfect beef dish for your wine with our easy to follow wing pairing guide.

One of the most wonderful things about winter is savouring a range of slow cooked, hearty meals. Full flavoured and nourishing, beef is perfect for these types of dishes and when it comes to choosing the perfect wine, both reds and whites can be ideal.

Key considerations are the cut of meat, how fatty it is, how it's prepared and any accompanying sauces. While red wine lovers can match almost any variety, white wine lovers should stick with fuller, more textural varieties.

 

BEEF WINE MATCHING 101

MEDIUM TO FULL & TEXTURAL WHITES

Adam Walls is a real white wine lover, even in winter, which is why chargrilled beef and peanut green curry is one his favourite meals at this time of year. What makes it such a delicious choice, is that there's a great range of white wines to match. As he explains, "Perfect with curries and spicy food, VerdelhoFiano Pinot G Arneis and Chardonnay have the fruit weight and acidity to perfectly offset the spices and aromas of this dish." For further inspiration, our friends at Asian Inspirations have a great guide to matching some of our favourite wines with great east asian dishes here.

Light to Medium Bodied Aromatic Reds

Dave Mavor loves nights in during footy season, especially with a meal of spicy chipotle beef , which is a great match with light to medium bodied aromatic reds. "You could pair most reds with this dish", Dave says, "However, its smooth texture and tomatoey richness pairs deliciously with vibrant, lighter-bodied varieties such as Pinot Noir or Grenache , or Nero d'Avola ."

Medium Weight & Savoury Reds

When he's got the family around for a Sunday feast, one of Phil Ryan's favourite meals is pot roasted beef in red wine with garlic, fennel and rosemary . For a wine match, Phil says, "Pot roasted, slow cooked and braised beef dishes with melt-in-the-mouth textures pair well with the richness and peppery spice of cool climate Shiraz, or try Mediterranean favourites, Sangiovese or Tempranillo ."

Bold & fuller bodied reds

"We're so lucky in Australia to have so many delicious international influences and one of my favourite winter recipes is Argentinean beef steak with chimichurri sauce", says Trent Mannell. "Bolder, fuller bodied reds such as warmer climate ShirazCabernet Sauvignon and blends, Durif and Malbec are ideal partners for barbequed or roasted beef with their charry richness."

If you're looking for more beef recipes, celebrity chef Curtis Stone is an enthusiast for all different cuts of meat. In fact, he has a butchery as part of his New York restaurant, Gwen. Read all about it in his Selector interview , then check out his recipe for 80-day dry aged ribeye with creamed corn and scallions. And, for more great beef recipes, make sure you visit www.beefandlamb.com.au.

Plus, there's more winter food and wine matching inspiration to be found in our Italian inspiration feature.

 

 

 

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Food
What grows together, goes together – Blackmore Wagyu and Heathcote Estate
Words by Mark Hughes on 20 Oct 2017
We continue our ‘Grows together, goes together’ series with a glorious pairing in the rolling green hills around heathcote, Victoria – the world renowned Blackmore Wagyu and the equally impressive Heathcote Estate. In the world of beef, Wagyu is quite rightly held in high esteem, its high grading and phenomenal marbling commanding prices of up to $200 per steak in restaurants. The marbling is due to unparalleled levels of monounsaturated fat – a good fat that can assist in reducing cholesterol levels in the body and which has a low melting point. Consequently, Wagyu scores highly on both health and flavour, delivering juicy, delicate characters with a deliciously soft texture. Wagyu literally means ‘Japanese beef’ (Wa=Japanese, gyu=beef), and in Japan Wagyu has long been revered for its use as a working animal, its sheer size and muscle structure making it perfect for agricultural pursuits. It is theorised that centuries of labour helped develop the rich fat content in the muscle of the Wagyu, as it can be used as an instant energy source. As a beef product, incredibly fastidious monitoring of bloodlines has allowed over a century and a half of absolute 100% pure breeding – each and every Wagyu can be traced to its genetic source. In the Australian beef industry, one name is practically synonymous with Wagyu, Blackmore . Fifth generation farmer David Blackmore has been a trailblazer in our Wagyu industry, pioneering the production of 100% full-blood Wagyu beef in Australia since 1992. While adhering to the same exacting genetic regimes observed in Japan, he’s developed innovative production techniques for Australian conditions. This has resulted in quite a revolution. Prior to Wagyu entering the Australian market, the Australian meat grading system was 0 to 6. Since the introduction of Wagyu, the grading system has been increased to 9, with Blackmore Wagyu consistently scoring 9+. The Blackmore Wagyu farm is situated in the beautiful Victorian high country, at Alexandra, while the breeding cows and their calves are raised on a lush 3,500-acre property just out of Heathcote, a little over an hour’s drive north of Melbourne. “Our property has beautiful rolling hills with lots of shelter belts for the cattle, which is really important for grazing on the open pastures, but also for getting out of the weather,” explains Blackmore CEO and sixth generation farmer, Ben Blackmore, when we tour their Fairfield property just outside Heathcote. Agricultural neighbours
Just a short drive away from the Blackmore farm on the other side of Heathcote is the revered Heathcote Estate. As a wine region, the story of Heathcote echoes many of those around Australia. Settlers in the mid 1850s were attracted to the region by gold and agriculture, with some planting vines and establishing wineries that gradually fell by the wayside. A few decades ago, the vinous potential of the region was again recognised and viticulturists established a wine region that now boasts over 40 wineries. Heathcote Estate was planted in 1999 by the Kirby family, with the sole objective of making a premium single vineyard Shiraz . Award-winning winemaker Tom Carson, who also looks after the Kirby’s Yabby Lake Winery on the Mornington Peninsula , feels that he has achieved that, giving most of the credit to great sites and the distinct characteristics of the region. “Heathcote is an amazing region for Shiraz,” says Tom. “The major factors are the ancient Cambrian soils – at least 500 million years old – very deep, rich, red and full of quartz and gemstones, coupled with the really mild climate of warm days, cool nights. It is perfect for Shiraz. “The resulting Shiraz are quite bold but fine, with beautiful perfumes, a lovely intensity of berry fruits and savoury tannins – just beautiful food wines.” A meal for a discerning crew
At the invitation of the Kirbys to use the Heathcote Estate Homestead, Selector organised for a special lunch with Ben, Tom and Heathcote Estate’s marketing manager Tiffyn Parsons, prepared by renowned Melbourne chef Neale White. Growing up in Sydney, Neale started his career in London, honing his skills in the kitchens of culinary luminaries such as Gordon Ramsey and Marcus Wareing, before returning to Australia to operate and consult for restaurants in Byron Bay, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne,  including the iconic Southbank restaurant, Pure South . In 2013, Neale opened Papa Goose in Melbourne’s CBD and, more recently, added My Son Joy café in South Melbourne, which allows him to express his ‘low carb, high fat’ mantra with a nutrition-based, wholefood menu. The perfect wine & beef pairing
For this special lunch, we gave Neale the challenge of working with a lesser used rump cap as well as a secondary cut, skirt. This fact prompted Ben to reveal another unique quality of Wagyu. “Because we are growing these animals to four years of age, they are much bigger than the traditional beef animal in Australia, so they have much better muscle development. This enables us to get up to 40 different sections from an animal, whereas you only get about 16 traditionally,” Ben says. “So this allows chefs to be much more creative with these extra cuts with different textures and utilising different cooking techniques.” For the skirt, Neale seasoned the Wagyu steak then simply pan-roasted for three minutes each side, and rested for 10 minutes, before slicing thinly and placing over the pomegranate, macadamia and herb slaw salad. It was matched with the spicy fruit characters of the 2014 Heathcote Estates Grenache Noir, which highlighted the delicate flavour of the Wagyu. The rump cap was brined overnight in 5% salt and herb solution before being slow-cooked in an oven, then rested, sliced and served with a roasted carrot puree and green bean salad. It was paired perfectly with the 2012 Museum Release Heathcote Estate Single Vineyard Shiraz – its plush palate and ripe tannins accentuating the wonderfully soft ‘melt in the mouth’ texture of the Wagyu rump cap.

People think when eating beef they need a really powerful red wine, but for me, the flavour of Wagyu is so delicate, the lighter, savoury style of Heathcote Shiraz is perfect.

- Ben Blackmore, Blackmore Wagyu
“I think the savouriness of our Heathcote Shiraz and that lovely cut you get across the palate works beautifully with this rich meat,” agrees Tom. “That is the wonderful thing about this region. There are some wonderful food producers alongside great wine producers. These things just go hand in hand.” Get Neil White's pan-roasted Blackmore's wagyu beef skirt salad with pomegranate, macadamia and herb red slaw recipe
Food
The Essential Salad and Wine Matching Guide
Fresh flavour-filled salads to match your selection Celebrate fresh and flavourful salads perfect to serve in the warmer months! There’s no limit to what we can call a salad these days and the idea that it needs to be served cold is a distant memory. The best combination of ingredients is seasonally-driven and matched with a wine with the appropriate weight and texture. Red drinkers are not left out, but opt for a lighter, more aromatic variety served with warm salads that include meat. Don’t forget that the dressing is an important consideration, with the light and zesty styles best matched with lighter wines and the creamier options best paired with wines with a bit more weight and appealing acidity. Light and aromatic whites Trent Mannell loves whipping up a simple salad when friends drop by and the summer salad with asparagus and goat’s curd is a perfect choice. When it comes to wine matching, he explains, “While the beauty of this salad is its simplicity, it also includes quite strong flavours in the asparagus and goat’s curd. Offset them with a light, aromatic white like Sauvignon Blanc , Riesling or Vermentino .” Medium weight and textural whites Keith Tulloch loves his whites with texture and find rocket, pear and walnut salad with blue cheese dressing a perfect match for this style of wine. “With its beautiful textures, this salad needs a white wine match that’s full of texture too”, he says. “I recommend Pinot G, Fiano, Arneis or Marsanne.” Fuller bodied whites Entertaining a group can be stress free when you serve up a dish like King salmon with warm Romesco salad . This is one of Adam Walls’ go-to dishes and for a wine match, he says, “Salmon calls for a fuller-bodied white, as do the ingredients in the Romesco salad. I recommend a classic Chardonnay or Verdelho , or for something different, a Viognier or Roussanne .” Light to medium weight and savoury reds Red lovers don’t miss out when it comes to summer salads, and Dave Mavor loves adapting the classic match of duck and Pinot Noir for the warmer months with warm duck breast and cauliflower salad and his favourite Pinot. But, he explains, “You could also try Grenache & GSM blends , Nero d’Avola , Sangiovese or Tempranillo .”
Wine
Pursuit of Perfection - Australian Pinot Noir
Words by Dave Mavor on 2 May 2017
Australia's established Pinot Noir regions are continuing to develop and evolve remarkable examples of this varietal. But for the big future of Aussie Pinot, we may need to look west. I'll admit it - not everyone is a fan of  Pinot Noir . But that fact, in itself, is what makes Pinot so enigmatic - aficionados swoon, swillers scoff. And this suits Pinot (and its lovers) just fine because in this land of the tall poppy, it is not always favourable to be too popular. That said, Pinot is one of the most revered and collected wine styles in the world, with the top examples from its homeland in Burgundy selling for outrageous sums of money. It is generally quite delicate (some say light-bodied), and it takes a certain development of one's palate to truly appreciate its delightful nuances, perfumed aromas, textural elements and supple tannin profile. It appears that if you enjoy wine for long enough, eventually your palate will look for and appreciate the more subtle and complex style that quality Pinot can provide. A good point that illustrates this comes from winemaker Stephen George, who developed the revered Ashton Hills brand. "A lot of older gentlemen come into the cellar door and say they love Shiraz, but it doesn't love them anymore," he says. "So we are getting some of my generation moving over to Pinot Noir, and the young kids of today are also really embracing it." THE ALLURE OF PINOT (FOR THE WINEMAKER) Winemakers love a challenge, and there is no doubt that Pinot is a challenging grape to grow, and even more challenging to make. The Burgundians have certainly nailed it, but they have been practicing for thousands of years, and this is part of the key. The cool climate of Burgundy has proven to be a major factor, as is the geology of the soils there, but they have also shown the variety to be very site-specific - vines grown in adjacent vineyards, and even within vineyards, can produce very different results. Vine age too, is critical. True of most varieties, but especially Pinot Noir, the best fruit tends to come from mature vineyards, considered to be around 15 years old or more. Yields too, need to be kept low to get the best out of this grape, as it needs all the flavour concentration it can get to show its best. Australian winemakers have taken these lessons to heart - gradually developing ever cooler areas to grow Pinot, working out the best soil types, and carefully exploring the ideal sites within each vineyard to grow this fickle variety. They're also working out the best clones and the most appropriate vine spacing, and then managing the vine canopy to allow just the right amount of dappled sunlight to reach the ripening bunches. Our vines are getting older, reaching that critical phase of maturity, and yields are managed carefully to coax the maximum from each berry. Once in the winery, the grapes need careful handling due to their thin skins and low phenolic content, so physical pump-overs are kept to a minimum. These days more and more winemakers are including a percentage of stems in the ferment to enhance the aromatic and textural qualities of the finished wine, and oak usage is more skilfully matched to the style being produced. THE STATE OF PLAY OF PINOT Australian viticulturists and winemakers are getting better at producing top quality Pinot with every passing year. And that quality is truly on show in our most recent State of Play tasting. It's been five years since we last had an in-depth look at Pinot Noir in this country. And what a change we've seen in that time! The overall quality of Australian Pinot is certainly on the rise. But what is perhaps the biggest development in the last five years has been the emergence of a potential Pinot giant  in the west . As you will see in our reviews across the following pages, the established Pinot producing regions such as the  Yarra Valley ,  Tasmania  and  Adelaide Hills  are still well represented in our Top 20, but they are joined by newcomers, the cool-climate  Tumbarumba  region of NSW, and an impressively strong showing from the  Great Southern  and  Pemberton  areas of Western Australia. In fact, five wines in the Top 20 are from WA - an amazing statistic given that there were none five years ago. THE EMERGING PINOT GIANT - WA We have seen a marked increase in the number and quality of Pinots coming from the West in recent years, particularly from the vast  Great Southern  area encompassing the five distinct sub-regions of Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongorup, as well as a secluded pocket of the South West around Pemberton and Manjimup. So what has led to the emergence of WA as a Pinot powerhouse? According to second generation winemaker Rob Wignall, whose father Bill pioneered Pinot production in Albany, there have been a number of small improvements that make up the overall picture. He believes that climate change has been a significant and positive factor, moving the region's climate into more of a semi-Mediterranean situation with mild summer days and a reduction in rainfall throughout the growing season, leading to improvements in disease control and better canopy management. In addition, Rob feels that better oak selection and winemaking practices such as 'cold soaking' of the must prior to fermentation have led to improvements in the finished product. He is also a strong advocate for screw caps, believing that the delicate fruit characters of Pinot really shine under this closure, and that they also enhance the age-ability of the wines. Luke Eckersley, from regional icon Plantagenet Wines in Mt Barker, points to the variations in micro-climates and soil types across the Great Southern region as a factor. "Pinot Noir styles are varied with complex savoury styles from Denmark; elegant perfumed styles from Porongurup; rich fruit driven styles from Mount Barker; big robust styles from Albany; lighter primary fruit styles from Frankland River," he says. Michael Ng, winemaker from Rockcliffe in Denmark, adds that the cool climate with coastal influences allows full flavour development in the fruit, while still allowing for wines of finesse and savoury complexity. And a bit further west, Coby Ladwig of Rosenthal Wines points to the steep hills and valleys of the Pemberton region creating many unique micro-climates that enable varied grape growing conditions, "allowing us to create extremely complex and elegantly styled wines from one region", he says. While neighbouring Manjimup, with an altitude of 300m and therefore the coolest region in Western Australia, has cold nights and warm days ideal for flavour enhancement. PERFECTING THE FUTURE In summary, Pinot Noir in Australia is in a healthy position, with the established regions in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia producing more consistent and ever improving results. Equally exciting are the emerging Pinot Noir regions such as those in WA, as well as Tumbarumba and Orange, that show that the future for Pinot in Australia is bright. So, if you find your Shiraz doesn't love you as much anymore, perhaps look to Pinot, and when doing so, glance west. THE WINE SELECTORS TASTING PANEL The wines in this State of Play were tasted over a dedicated period by the  Wine Selectors Tasting Panel , which is made up of perceptive personalities and palates of winemakers, international wine show judges and wine educators. With an amazing 140 years collective experience, they love wine and they know their stuff.
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