Why did I plant Torrontes in Australia?

Winemaker Enrique Diaz explains his fascination with Torrontes and why he chose to venture into uncharted territory by bringing it to Australia.

The story of the Torrontes is the reflection of a very intimate personal journey; a story which stems from the roots of my childhood and extends to my love for the land.

The beginning of the dream

I was born and educated in Argentina. Early in my childhood I was introduced to the land – The Pampas of Argentina – by a relative of mine, Uncle Ernesto. I fondly recall my experiences in this new environment, a world away from the city life of Buenos Aires. Ernesto often remarked that the vast open landscape of the Pampas gave him a great sense of freedom. I sensed his love for the land. 

That philosophy has had a profound effect on me. I sought to be like him, to have a good life, a big family and to be liberated from the confines of the city. Since then, I have remained connected to the land, either directly or indirectly, in the many places I have lived and worked.

Challenges along the way

Naturally, given my background, I chose to ‘roll the dice’ in 2000 and imported two iconic varietals of Argentina – Malbec and Torrontes. There were obstacles along the way, not least of which was the Millennium Drought. I also encountered many difficulties from budburst to fruit setting and fruit maturation, which required adaptation to my viticultural practices. That is not to mention learning the winemaking practices that are unique to this varietal.

Harvest Torrontes Vineyard

Torrontes unique style matches with spicy food and Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai dishes. It also pairs marvellously with Northern Argentinean food, such as the typical empanadas and corn stew.

These challenges notwithstanding, I have now propagated and planted more than two acres (and counting) of Torrontes on our property – St Ignatius Vineyard. Much to my delight, the fruit is truly unique, with its distinctive floral aroma and apricot characters – and the vines remarkably productive. 

This is a journey that I have shared with my family – together we have aspired to do something that is genuinely authentic. In the process, we have created a vineyard and winery that invests in quality and strives to differentiate itself in the marketplace.

The reward for hard work

Taking advantage of our distinctive terroir, we are now embracing the challenge of adapting varietals that are characteristically Argentinian to the local Australian environment. In many ways, the most exciting part of the journey has just begun. We have arrived at the point where our ambitious plans come to fruition. 

In 2010, we released our first vintage of Torrontes, sold exclusively through our cellar door and online store. Over the years we have fine-tuned the process and experimented with a novel frizzante style that is most popular amongst our loyal customers.

A little bit of history

Interestingly, the origin of Torrontes has been an issue of broad-ranging discussion amongst many wine experts, but its relationship to the Europe Mediterranean Muscat is undeniable. A proof of this bond is its fragrant and unmistakable aroma, resembling roses, jasmine, and geranium, with occasional spicy essences. The first cultivation of Torrontes dates back from the times of the Spanish Conquistadors. Ever since it became one of the most cultivated grape varieties of Argentina. Recently, its use has been expanded to include sparkling and fortified wine, with excellent results in both cases.

This article was originally published in the December 2021 Issue of the Wine Showcase Magazine. It has been reproduced here with minor amendments.