Field and Game
Bush to Banquet: conversations through food and pheasant leg moutarde
Winemaker and restaurateur Matt Fowles keeps investing in wild game because he’s passionate about the sustainable sourcing of food.
The link between wine and hunting goes back to the very first vintages from Fowles Wine at Avenel in the Strathbogie Ranges. Releasing wine under the label Ladies who Shoot their Lunch was a bold move questioned by experts in marketing who convinced Matt not to put the winery name on the bottle.
It was so successful and so well accepted that the Fowles name was later added to the label.
The cellar door also has earned a reputation for locally sourced fine foods and the shop is stocked with a range of preserves.
Whether it is shooting a rabbit between the vines or diving for crayfish in South Australia, Matt Fowles lives a live of hunting and foraging.
“We are hardwired to be ethical; we are outdoors and understand nature and hunting for the table,” Matt said.
“The combination of conservation and a commitment to using the whole animal is inherently ethical.”
Matt is also a farmer and proud of his ethical practices in raising sheep.
“We are ethical and sustainable farmers as well,” he said.
“Our sheep have a good life until their last day, the same as wild game, but really game is the ultimate free range. These birds are out in the wild without interference from humans and at the final moment they are not even aware of being taken.
“Then they are used and honoured on the table; it is probably the best example of an ethical carnivore out there.”
Part of Matt’s involvement with Field & Game has been to promote wild game to a broader audience. The articles and images of game cooking are shared with the winery audience and it opens their eyes to a world that has been ignored >>
by an increasingly urban population that relies solely on farmed food to eat.
“With our wine we are blending it in a style that works well with game. It is a different class of meat and it behaves differently; you need to use different techniques in the kitchen because of that and the same can be said for the wines, you need different attributes in the wine to match wild meat,” Matt said.
“The wine allows us to have a bigger conversation with the broader community about hunting; when food is introduced there is a meaningful exchange and game food has always been a feature of our restaurant. I think there is demand and curiosity about game.”
Matt has upped the ante with a restyling of the Are you game? wine range. The labels feature beautiful works of art depicting the birds and animals they are suited for.
Serving a well-prepared wild duck dish and a matching bottle of wine is sure to have an impact on dinner guests who aren’t hunters. The only thing remaining then is for hunters to have the conversation about sustainable and ethical hunting, and conservation.
“For hunters, I think sharing their wild food with people is the ultimate way to have a conversation about game, it softens the conversation and people can see in front of them the value of the produce,” Matt said.
“I’d also encourage hunters to use the whole of the animal: the tongue, the heart, the livers, because I think that is a more compelling culinary story.”