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The New Barossa
Part 17: Domenic Torzi, revisited

I'd visited Domenic at his beautiful property at Mount McKenzie before, when I was really impressed by his Frost Dodger reds, made from Shiraz grapes part dried on racks (see earlier report). This time round there were two new themes to explore. First, a wonderfully refined Eden Valley Riesling and a series of reds from the Adelaide Plains. I also had another look at Frost Dodger itself. 

You'll recall that Domenic's vineyard is in the Eden Valley, in a frost-prone region where the risk of damage is from the beginning of October to the second week in November. As a result, the vines are pruned with a permanent cordon (two woody arms which are then spur pruned), and an insurance cane trained onto the higher guide wire (see picture on the right). The Riesling is the latest addition to the Frost Dodger stable, and comes from 1970s plantings in Mount McKenzie, Craneford and Mengeler's Hill. 

In contrast to the cool-ish Eden Valley, the Adelaide Plains are the hottest viticultural region in South Australia (thermally, that is). This is where Domenic hails from, and while it used to be a popular place for growing grapes (Penfolds' Grange used to have a decent contribution from this area) it's fallen out of favour. Domenic's latest mission has been the Old Plains Wine Company, which is a joint project in collaboration with an old schoolmate, Tim Freeland. The old vineyards were non-profitable and were being pulled up by growers, who typically kept small blocks to make wine for family and friends. Since 1996, Domenic and Tim have been sourcing these remaining small blocks, perhaps of half an acre or two acres. They have also taken cuttings from old vineyards and planted 10.5 acres of their own, releasing the first wines with the 2004 vintage. I tasted a mix of 2004s and 2005s, and I think the results are fantastic. The notes speak for themselves. 

Torzi Matthews Riesling 2005 Eden Valley
This is a beautiful wine. Lovely smoky, spicy minerally notes on the nose together with some limey fruit. Nicely complex. The palate has nice weight with quite a soft, rich texture. This is an assured, confident Riesling with good concentration. Great balance. Very good/excellent 94/100

Longhop Boomerang Shiraz 2005 Adelaide Plains
Wonderful nose of pure, sweet blackcurrant fruit with a sweet cassis character. Seamless and smooth. The remarkable palate is bold and rich with lovely pure fruit, but it’s all in balance and avoids being jammy. Nice structure. Brilliant winemaking. Very good/excellent 93+/100

Boomerang Old Vine Grenache 2005 Adelaide Plains
Sweet, opulent and lush on the nose with a liqueur-like edge and subtle herb and tea notes. Beguiling. There’s a lovely supple texture to the bright fruit on the palate, which displays undercurrents of earthiness and spice. There’s already a bit of complexity, but I reckon this superb wine will develop very interestingly. It carries its high alcohol (just under 16%) quite well. Very good/excellent 93+/100

Longhop Old Vine Reserve 2004 Adelaide Plains
(Just about to be bottled.) Lovely rich nose of pure, vivid fruit with a bright blackcurrant and raspberry character and a nice spicy lift. The palate has interesting weight: it shows lots of lush, pure fruit with a subtle, spicy structure. A really interesting wine which is in balance, although dominated a little by the pure, smooth fruit at present. Good potential. Very good/excellent 92–94/100

Longhop Old Vine Reserve 2005 Adelaide Plains
Quite a bright dark nose of brooding sweet black fruits with some spicy complexity. There’s lots happening here. The palate shows hugely concentrated sweet dark fruit with a spicy, almost earthy structure. It’s a striking style, very driven by pure fruit but with the structure and stuffing to age, although this is mostly hidden at this early stage. Very good/excellent 92–94/100


Power of One Shiraz 2004 Adelaide Plains
Utterly fantastic nose of complex dark fruits with a subtle spiciness and some earthy character. There’s also some beguiling notes of subtle autumn leaves and dry straw, under the rich blackcurrant fruit. The palate shows a huge concentration of bright fresh fruit with seamless, spicy, earthy tannic structure. It’s hard to see past the forward fruit at the moment, but there’s plenty of structure here. 93–96/100

Power of One Shiraz 2005 Adelaide Plains
Supple, dark smooth sweet fruit nose with a smoky, spicy edge. There’s lots of fruit here. The palate is dominated by full, sweet, supple fruit. It’s rounded and rich, but there’s a stack of tannin underneath it all. This is a big, primary wine with a long future ahead of it – it’s going to be brilliant. 91–94/100

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Shiraz 2004 Eden Valley
Really forward, dark, sweetly fruited nose with a lovely herb and tea lift and complex sweet spices. The palate shows a lovely expression of herb-tinged lush fruit. This distinctive wine has a lovely silky texture, and this is coupled with a dry, savoury, tannic finish keeping things in balance. A wine with lots of personality that keeps giving. Excellent 95/100

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Shiraz 2005 Eden Valley (cask sample)
Hard hit by frost, 9 tons were picked at 1 ton/acre. Pungent, vivid nose of pure blackcurrant jam with a spicy edge. Quite complex and intense. The palate is juicy and ripe with sweet, rounded, concentrated fruit. Lively and vibrant with nice structure. A dense forward style with lots of promise. 92-95/100

Wines tasted October 2005

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