wa2.gif (4241 bytes)

abut9.gif (3095 bytes)

abut12.gif (3207 bytes)
abut10.gif (3636 bytes)

abut11.gif (4039 bytes)


The New Barossa
Part 5: Torzi Matthews

A change of scene. Leaving the valley floor, I was off to the Eden Valley, and more specifically the slopes of Mount McKenzie. It's a hill, really, but this is a beautifully secluded spot, with a stillness to it that seems more than just the absence of noise and activity. Domenic Torzi has a plot of vines adjoining his house, and after a brief look around we went to his kitchen. There was a hunk of homemade bread, a couple of Italian hard cheeses (Grana Padano and Provolone), some olive oil, and a couple of bottles of wine. 

The olive oil is important for this story. This is where Domenic started - his family business. He makes award winning oil from trees in the Barossa and Adelaide plains. He's a third generation olive oil producer: the Torzis have been doing this since 1970. The oils are cold processed and centrifugally processed, with three labels, which I tried. Vat 1 has a lovely green grassy edge; it's aromatic and fresh, with some greenness. Very fine and fresh. Synergy is rich, slightly green with some vegetable notes. Very soft on the palate. Lovely. Una has a complex green pepper nose. It is quite distinctive on the palate with lots of richness and a minty, eucalypt edge.   

Theirs is the only vineyard for some distance, because it’s in a frost pocket, hence the name of the wine they make, the Frost Dodger Shiraz. This is a fairly unique wine, made in a sort of Amarone style. 50–60% of the grapes are dry racked after harvest, and these are then co-fermented with fresh-picked grapes, harvested a little late, using the indigenous yeasts. ‘We have no problem fermenting to dryness’, reports Domenic, ‘and the fermentation doesn’t get hotter than 28 °C’. First impressions can be misleading, with people as well as wines.

Time for some pruning (left) - you can see that this is an isolated plot of vines from the background. Domenic Torzi looks cheerful, despite the freezing weather (right).

A quick sniff and slurp, and you’d think this was all about a blast of sweet, ripe fruit with perhaps just a touch of greenness in the background. But give it time, and it reveals itself as quite a profound wine, with striking texture and elegance. Surprisingly, half-full bottles were showing very well two days later after bumping around in the boot of my hire car, when I pulled them out and tried them with dinner. 2002 was the inaugural vintage, and the 2003, if anything, is a little better: these are thought-provoking wines which justify the fairly hefty price tag (in the UK they retail at £25). Domenic processes 10 tons of his own fruit, and the remaining 15 tons is sold off to generate revenue (to Elderton). Next year he’ll be making his first Riesling, just 600 cases; a natural ferment will be used here also. 

Racking the grapes

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Shiraz 2002
50-60% of the grapes are dry racked and co-fermented with fresh-picked grapes picked a bit late, and crushed on top of the ferment. 25% new French oak; the rest is 2nd and 3rd fill American. Wild yeasts used. Breathtaking nose of sweet, pure aromatic fruit (perhaps a floral note?) with subtle herbal notes and hints of tea. There's also a subtle herbaceousness. The palate is elegant with sweet, herb-tinged black fruits and good acidity. Great length here: this is a sensational effort. Excellent 95/100

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Shiraz 2003
70% mixed new and seasoned French oak; 30% new American. A barrel sample; to be bottled November 2004. Pure aromatic fruit on the nose, mainly raspberry with some black fruits. The palate shows lovely elegant fruit with great definition and good acidity. Smooth, ripe and elegant. After a while the nose seems quite taut, with some blackfruits, a hint of chocolate and subtle spicy elements. It's seamless. Chewy, spicy elegant palate with some cool climate definition. In time this may surpass the 2002; it's slightly more structured. Very good/excellent 94/100

Added later: I had a chance to try some more wines in May 2005:

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Riesling 2005 Eden Valley, Australia
Domenic Torzi has just released his first Riesling, which has been fermented with indigenous yeasts. It has a striking, complex limey minerally nose with some bright, delicate floral overtones. The palate shows limey, spicy fruit with some depth and richness, all the time retaining a precise delicate touch. Finishes dry. Although this is being assessed at a very young stage, it seems already to be a brilliantly expressive wine full of interest, and it will be interesting to watch its evolution. Very good/excellent 93/100

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Shiraz 2003 Eden Valley, Australia
A chance to re-try this wine now that it has been bottled. There’s a dark chocolatey edge to the nose of lush, smooth black fruits. Quite complex. The palate is intense with a nice contrast between the sweet dark fruits and good acidity. Structure is provided by the spicy, grippy tannins, giving a savoury bite to the fruit. It’s a wine that rewards attention and promises much beyond the immediate rush of ripe fruit. Real potential to this seamlessly smooth effort. Very good/excellent 93/100

wines available in the UK from The Cellar Door and Bordeaux Index

Back to top