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JOHN ROZENTALS salutes an Italian family’s hard work and sacrifice

April 7, 2018 Beverage, Headline News No Comments Email Email

I feel that I must begin this column with a disclosure. I spent three years at college with Rob Fiumara, the proprietor and winemaker at Leeton’s Lillypilly Estate, and consider him a good friend.

Indeed, I often refer to him as ‘my favourite Italian bear’, though I must admit that I don’t know many Italian bears.

His family’s story is a typical migrant story — one of hard work and sacrifice bringing their just rewards.

Rob’s father, the late Pasquale ‘Pat’ Fiumara, migrated to Australia in the 1950s, leaving his beloved wife and five sons in Italy while he saved enough for them to join him.

Pat soon started selling a bit of produce from a roadside barrow on the edge of Leeton, and watched that barrow grow into the Golden Apple, the town’s biggest supermarket.

Rob was the first of seven brothers born in Australia, and at school always showed above-average ability in maths and science.

When he told his father that he wanted to be a winemaker, Pat’s response was to plant the Lillypilly vineyard.

It wasn’t showing off, it was just the way that the family did things. The older brothers had all been carved leading positions in the Golden Apple, now it was Rob’s turn to build a career.

He soon repaid that faith, winning a trophy at the 1983 Royal Sydney Show with his first wine, a blend of traminer and semillon, for which he had trademarked the name ‘Tramillon’.

Like others in the region, Rob has found that the Riverina can, in some years, produce outstanding botrytised sweet whites.

His Lillypilly Noble Blend has often outranked the extremely highly regarded De Bortoli Noble One in the show ring and from vintages such as 2008 is simply sublime.

Visit www.lillypilly.com.au.

WINE REVIEWS

Lillypilly Estate 2014 Shiraz ($19.50): This dry red doesn’t scream varietal purity from the glass, but it does come across as a robust, full-bodied wine does the region proud and is a great match with a high-quality char-grilled steak.

Lillypilly Estate Fiumara 7 Domenic Blend ($26.50 for 375ml): Named for the late Dominic, the eldest of Pat’s and Angela’s seven sons, this a delightful tawny-hued fortified that I find reminiscent of fine, mature muscat. Good on its own with good company after a hearty meal.

WINE OF THE WEEK

Lillypilly Estate 2015 Noble Blend ($35 for 375ml): Made from 75 per cent sauvignon blanc and 25 per cent semillon, this botrytised sweet white is fetching the sort of price its record of show trophies and gold medals more than justifies. It’s luscious and delicious. Don’t overdo the sweetness of accompanying food. The wine goes very well with a simple selection of great fruit, or, indeed, with soft, brie-style cheese.

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