Limestone Hills is the only truffière (truffle plantation) in New Zealand successfully growing three prime species of truffle — the Périgord black truffle, Tuber melanosporum, the bianchetto white truffle, Tuber borchii, and the Burgundy truffle, Tuber aestivum/uncinatum. Our limestone-rich soils and warm site make us uniquely suited to truffle production. We planted our first trees, 200 seedling oaks and hazels infected with the Périgord black truffle in 1997, and harvested our first black truffles in 2006. We were amongst the first properties to plant trees infected with bianchetto and Burgundy truffles in the early 2000s, and began production of both in autumn 2012.
This is a Périgord black truffle of just under 200 grammes, worth around $600 at NZ market prices. The classic truffle of French haute cuisine, and a regional speciality in the Périgord and Provence, it has a powerful perfume, with notes of flowers, spices and forest floor, and can transform any dish into something really special. Like all truffles, it has an affinity with eggs, and we always eat our first black truffle of the winter in a traditional Provencal brouillade — truffled scrambled eggs.
We started producing bianchetto (right) in the autumn of 2012, and have come to love this “little white” truffle for its strong, almost aggressive perfume, and taste that has notes of garlic and parmesan. It’s a close approximation to the world’s most expensive truffle — the Italian white truffle, Tuber magnatum — and works really well used in the same ways: tossed through pasta and shaved onto risotto.
Our first Burgundy truffles — that’s an immature truffle on the left — also turned up in autumn 2012, and we later found a beautiful 330 gram Burgundy truffle that went on to be used in a special 10-course, three truffle celebration dinner prepared by Jonny Schwass, one of NZ’s top chefs. We only have six trees producing Burgundy truffles, so this will remain a rare treat until we get some more trees planted.
Our truffle season runs from autumn through until late winter, though the precise start and finish of harvesting can vary considerably from season to season. We normally expect the Périgord black truffles to be at their best through July and into early August, with bianchetto starting a little earlier and finishing later. The majority of our truffles are sold to restaurants in the region — notably the Nor’wester Café in Amberley and Jonny Schwass in Christchurch — but during the season Gareth can occasionally be found selling truffles at the Waipara Valley Farmer’s Market. To check on availability please subscribe to our harvest newsletter (click here, or fill in the form below), or contact us via the contact page.
During the truffle season we can organise truffle hunts and truffière tours with Rosie the truffle machine. Guests staying at The Shearer’s Cottage can have a complimentary truffle hunt or tour, but Gareth is also happy to organise tours and truffle hunts for visitors. Please email for more information and to book a truffle hunt, but please bear in mind that we can’t guarantee that truffles will be found.
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