Family-run and family-owned making “pure” estate grown wines in the Barossa
Torzi Matthews is a small family-owned winery based in the Barossa producing estate grown wines. Set up and run by husband and wife; Domenic (Dom) Torzi and Tracy Matthews their hand crafted wines are ready for drinking now but will age and improve over the years. Across their two labels (Torzi Matthews and Terraced Hills ) they own about 12 hectares and make just under 4,000 cases of 12 a year.
Their hand crafted wines and olive produce are a life time passion and a labour of love for both of them.
With his Italian roots and family background in winemaking, Dom is focused on creating hand crafted “pure” wines made in a European style with lower alcohol and more savoury characters. The European feel is apparent at the cellar door (which is appointment only) and in Dom and Tracy’s approach to their business. Meeting Dom at his vineyard property on a cool but sunny Friday, I felt I had stepped into an Italian cellar door with the meat and olives on tasting and with the smell of freshly made espresso in the air. The cellar door at the Angaston property they bought in 2011, sits on limestone rock and is adjacent to the house overlooking the vineyards on the hill below.
Their Shirazes are made in the traditional Italian Appassimento method where the fruit is dry racked the fruit and co fermented with the fruit in the vineyard leading to a “really intense wine with heady perfume and great power but really elegant at the same time” as Dom explains. All the wines are hand harvested and picked at a lower alcohol to retain higher acidity. They undergo whole bunch natural ferments and then are basket pressed.
Dom’s family came from Italy and settled in the Adelaide Plains in the 1970s. His parents and uncles would grow, vinify and make wines for the Italian community in Adelaide. They also would produce olive oil and Kalamata olives (black, green, jumbo, tiny, pitted, tapenade dips – and a five way field blend). Dom’s experience is all self-taught and he spent his childhood and early adult life living by the seasons; grape season, olive season then pork and tomato (with the passata – making the sauce). I can appreciate and see the beauty in living like this.
Torzi Matthews from 1996
In 1996, Dom and Tracy moved into the Barossa Valley from Adelaide Plains and not just expanded the olive business, set up a bread making business but also planted their first estate vineyards at Mt McKenzie. As Dom explains, “We had vines on the Adelaide Plains as well as olive groves. But I was looking for newer high grounds for the longer ripening to give more balance in fruit purity and natural acid purity in the wines; Shiraz, Riesling, Sangiovese and Prosecco. They work well in the cooler elevation of Barossa. So we get to retain some of those finer tannins and acidity and the fruit purity is second to none; some beautiful perfumes.” I tasted the Schist Rock Shiraz and have to agree on the purity of fruit as well as the length and depth of this wine.
“It’s all about pure wines from where I come from. If the nurturing is done well in the vineyard and in the groves then the fruit does its course and produces the fruit we are looking for. That lovely pure fruit purity we are looking for. “
When I ask him what he means by “pure”, Dom adds, “It is the purity of the fruit and the purity of making that fruit into wine into that style. Our wine style is more European so they have that lovely purity and rustiqueness to them. They are very much in the savoury tone than the sweet tone; very much food driven wines. They just take another level when you have food with them. And that has always been the focal point. For us it is very imperative that we relay the story in the bottle to the food that we eat.”
Why focus on single estate?
The full range except the wine called Frost Dodger Riesling (which comes from two blocks) is all sourced from a single vineyard. That way, as Dom explains, “I have control as a single farm let. I can control the whole growing season to harvesting.”
Mt McKenzie Eden Valley vineyard
In Mt McKenzie Dom and Tracy hand planted two Shirazes under the ‘Torzi Matthews’ label; one they called “Frost Dodger” and the other “Schist Rock Shiraz.” Frost Dodger is sensibly named due to the harsh conditions where it is grown, apparently the most frost pocketed area in the whole of the Barossa where every winter they could face up to 50 consecutive days of frost. So every year they may not produce a crop and when they do, it is bottled as “Frost Dodger” for obvious reasons.
The second Shiraz is under the label Schist Rock Shiraz, (or ‘son of Dodger’ as Dom says). The land sits on a bed of schist rock. We tasted the 2018 Schist Rock Shiraz which had been in bottle for 5-6 days. Dom explained that it was one of the best releases of its time with 2018 being an amazing vintage with good rains leading to a healthy canopy then the weather stayed dry but not hot. There is a lot of depth there and purity of fruit, you could drink it now, as Dom says he wants his wines to a “pop pour” that consumers can enjoy today but this will develop further in bottle over the next 10 years. This wine really does over deliver at the price point.
Angaston Property in the Barossa
Here at the property, Torzi Matthews grows and produces the Prosecco and the Francesca Grillo Collina Calcarea Syrah (collina calcarea meaning “limestone hill”).
Terraced Hills in the Adelaide Hills
The vineyard is located on a more northern area in the Adelaide Hills so it is warmer but much cooler than the Eden Valley for the intensity of fruit Dom is looking for in the Pinots and Chardonnays. It is only the second vintage for Terraced Hills but already the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are proving very popular so Dom may look at expanding the production.
With a background in hospitality and running restaurants, Tracy has been heavily involved in establishing and managing Torzi Matthews alongside Dom from the beginning. Both their two children help in the vineyard and despite their young age, have a good nose. No doubt their involvement in the family wine business will grow as they do.
The full range of wines are:
- 2017 FRANCESCA GRILLO COLLINA CALCAREA SYRAH
- 2018 FROST DODGER SHIRAZ
- 2018 SCHIST ROCK SHIRAZ
- 2019 FROST DODGER RIESLING
- 2018 VIGNA CANTINA SANGIOVESE
- 2018 VIGNA CANTINA TREBBIANO
- 2017 VIGNA CANTINA NEGRO AMARO
- 2019 PROSECCO (DRY SPARKLING WHITE)
- 2017 TERRACED HILLS PINOT NOIR
- 2018 TERRACED HILLS CHARDONNAY
Swanny Cellars is a big supporter of Dom’s wines. Dom and Tracy will be opening the below wines at the store this Friday 5th July from 4-7pm:
- Schist Rock Shiraz
- Frost Dodger Shiraz
- Frost Dodger Riesling
Drop in and meet Dom and Tracy and taste their wines!
Text written by Ruth Turnbull, Swanny Cellar’s Roaming Reporter.
About the Roaming Reporter:
Ruth Turnbull is the Roaming Reporter for Swanbourne Cellars. Having studied the WSET Advanced Certificate and WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits, Ruth has worked in the wine trade in both London and Perth for over 15 years. While living in WA, Ruth was a regular Panel member on the Liquor Barons Panel and managed the digital marketing for Swanbourne Cellars. Now based in Adelaide, Ruth focuses on meeting the winemakers and the people behind the brand in order to highlight and share their story on the Swanbourne Cellars blog and social media channels.