David Blackmore knows a thing or two about beef.
After all, the award-winning farmer is considered a pioneer in bringing wagyu cattle to Australia, and now owns a 150-hectare farm in the Victoria region, where his beef is very much sought after both locally and abroad, despite its hefty AUD$450/kilo price tag.
Prior to the 1970s, wagyu was exclusive to Japan – a national treasure that was jealously guarded, carefully selected and bred to maintain the purest blood lines. In 1988, David discovered two purebred females on loan from the Japanese government while visiting research facilities in the US – but it wasn’t until four years later that he was able to secure a large number of embryos and semen to bring into Australia. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, the farm boasts a herd of 3,000 animals from three of Japan’s most famous black Wagyu bloodlines, namely Itozakura and Kikumidoi, Kikutsuru from the Hyogo prefecture, and Okudoi, from the 100% purebred Tajima cow family. There is also the exclusive Mishima, known as Japan’s native wagyu, born by mating Angus and Wagyu females with a Mishima bull.
I was extremely fortunate (a big thank you to Visit Victoria for putting together the trip) to be able to visit the Blackmore farm in Alexandra, where fellow journalists and I spoke to David and his family to find out more about the history of the business and their farming practices.
We were taken on a tour through the farm grounds in a truck. Instead of being cooped up in sheds, the wide open fields, gentle rolling hills and lush greenery make for a relaxing and sustainable environment for the cattle. Calves are raised naturally on mother’s milk and pasture, before transitioning to irrigation pasture and non-grain rations. The entire process of raising the cows until they are ready for the market takes three years.
Two of David’s oldest cows. They have their own special paddock.
An interesting tidbit David shared – the cows should be in a relaxed state, so it’s good to see them lounging around rather than standing, because this ensures more marbling/fat, which ultimately creates high quality meat.
So what’s the deal with Wagyu and what makes it so expensive?
Aside from the long and extensive farming process, the beef produced also has a high percentage of marbling to muscle ratio, which gives it a melt in the mouth texture, tenderness and great flavour that is hard to achieve with any other beef variant.
The meat looked absolutely gorgeous – look at that marbling! Blackmore has the highest grade rated by the Australian Wagyu Association, which is grade 9.
Enough talking though – the proof lies in the pudding (or in this case, the beef!) – so we adjourned to David’s homestead, where we got to try the award-winning beef, prepared by the lovely Mrs Blackmore. No fancy cooking or extra seasoning, just simple pan frying in its own juices.
Amazing is an understatement.
I’ve tried Wagyu once (blog link here), and even though that was really good, it doesn’t come close to the meaty flavour and marbling from Blackmore. Almost no chewing was required as the beef literally melted on my tongue, it was that soft and tender. Despite the high percentage of fat, it did not feel greasy or cloying at all. I understand why their beef is so sought after in high-end restaurants around Australia and around the world – you do get what you are paying for, and David and his family are so passionate about rearing cattle and producing the best product possible while adhering to sustainable practices.
Delicious home cooked food to go with our meaty meal.
For a full list of places where you can get Blackmore Wagyu, visit blackmorewagyu.com/purchase/purchase-wagyu/.