Passion for wine runs deep

By Laura Briggs

With quite a few collections, Tatura’s Angelo Torresan likes to have a finger in multiple pies, but nothing says passion like his wine and spirit collection.

What started out as a simple garage when he moved into his Tatura home about three years ago has been transformed into a space for visitors to come and enjoy a drink inside the specially built cellar.

With reinforced concrete walls to keep the steady 13°C temperature, the 6m by 3m cellar is decked out with 2500 bottles of alcohol from all over the world.

Mr Torresan said his passion began through the influence of his Italian background.

‘‘Mum had her own brew — coming from an Italian background, she had the vines in the backyard and with a friend they got together and they did the whole thing — so that’s where it started for me.’’

Having had an interest in wine for 50 years, it was about 25 years ago that Mr Torresan really got serious about digging deep into the world of wine.

‘‘I really started to look around and actually visit the wineries, talk to the wine makers and start learning more about it,’’ he said.

‘‘Over the years I’ve learned a lot, and by learning about it I knew which wines had the potential to be better if you cellared them correctly.’’

Since starting out with his first refrigeration plant, which measured 3m by 3m, Mr Torresan discovered the truths and tricks to keeping wine at its finest.

‘‘The secret is to keep the temperature as even as possible,’’ he said.

‘‘The ideal temperature for wines is 13 degrees and 70 per cent humidity, and the reason for that is purely the corks — if the temperature goes up and down, up and down, up and down, the cork expands and shrinks — and that’s what creates the problem.’’

With that knowledge, Mr Torresan has used his tech-savvy background to track down all the gadgets for monitoring and maintaining ideal conditions inside his cellar. From a computer that keeps track of every bottle inside the room and its location on the racks, to a monitoring system that records the temperature and humidity every minute of the day.

‘‘There’s a little tube thing in there and every hour it will record temperature and humidity, it’ll send me an alarm if it goes over the ideal temperature or humidity,’’ he said.

‘‘It stores about a year-and-a-half worth of readings.’’

While the cellar consists of two full aisles of tall racks, filled with red and white wines, Mr Torresan also has a dedicated corner for his collection of whisky, shelves lined with spirits and a section for port.

‘‘I’ve got a port barrel, which I started in 1980-something, so I’ve actually blended my own ports and the stuff coming out of there is like gold.’’

While the passion oozes in his conversation about his collection, Mr Torresan said its purpose was purely enjoyment — for himself and others.

‘‘The whole idea is just to enjoy it — it’s not there as an investment, it’s not there for money, it’s just a passion that I have.

‘‘Sadly, I don’t like drinking alone, so I try and encourage people to come and visit.

‘‘And the rules are very simple: you go in the cellar — everything’s on the computer, so if you want to find a particular one, fine, if you don’t, just walk along, pluck out a bottle, if that’s the one you like, open it and we drink it.’’

Mr Torresan said he would often have friends who would knock on his door to admire his collection and share in a bottle.

As a big red wine enthusiast, Mr Torresan’s collection includes a range of wines from various countries including a particular All Saints bottle from the 1930s, but his favourite happens to be made right here in Australia.

‘‘I reckon in Australia the best big red, which is called durif — Warrabilla wines in Rutherglen, you can’t beat them — they are the best.’’

But while he is a true wine enthusiast, whisky is also important.

He said it was often believed the best whiskies only came out of Scotland, which he agreed was true to an extent.

‘‘What a lot of people don’t realise is that Tasmania in particular is a very serious producer of whisky that’s actually beaten the Scottish quite a few times.’’

As a member of the Gillies Club — the oldest single-malt appreciation group outside of Scotland that was established in 1977 in NSW — Mr Torresan hoped to share his passion for whisky with others in the area by starting a Gillies Club in the not too distant future.

Until then, Mr Torresan said he would continue to open his cellar as a place for friends to stop by and share a drink with him.