John Rozentals looks back with fondness on a friendship with the real leader of the Riverina’s ‘Noble’ movement.

I’ve long been a fan of Lillypilly’s Robert Fiumara — I guess since I met him at Wagga when both of us were enrolled as wine-science students in what was then the Riverina College of Advanced Education.

I particularly enjoyed the academic challenge he threw out and admired his family’s drive in making a success of their Leeton supermarket business, which was expanded to include a vineyard and winery when Robert’s passions were revealed.

And he didn’t let them down, winning a trophy and gold medal at the 1983 Royal Sydney Wine Show with his first wine, a 1982 dry white blended from traminer and semillon.

Robert showed his business acumen by immediately registering the name Tramillon. The unique blend remains a mainstay of winery sales.

He made a botrytised sweet wine in 1984 and was the first in the Riverina to label these wines as ‘Noble’, the inference that he is copying others in doing so still sticking in his craw.

His sweet wines often depend on sauvignon blanc rather than semiilon and so have a livelier zing to them, but he’ll use the blend that gives the best wine in any vintage, and he stresses that getting the fungus in a particular variety in a particular vintage is largely a matter of chance.

Lillypilly really made its mark with its sauvignon-blanc-dominant 2002 Noble Blend which won 30 gold medals and 26 trophies.

“It came out on top just about everywhere it was entered,” said Robert.

These days the once-four-strong list of stickies has been trimmed to two, with those currently available being the Lillypilly Estate 2016 Noble Harvest, a blend of semillon, sauvignon blanc and vermentino, and Lillypilly Estate 2017 Noble Blend, made from sauvignon blanc and muscat, and which already has three trophies to its name.


TOP SHELF with John Rozentals


Vermentino ($18)
The more I taste dry white made from this naturally acidic Italian variety the more convinced I am of its major role in the Australian wine industry, especially in hot climates such as the Riverina’s. This example features delightful palate-cleansing flavours of citrus and green apples, great length, and remarkable crunchiness. The acidity will cut through white-sauced pasta but I prefer it with a plate of fresh oysters.






7 Angelo Blend ($26.50/375ml)
This lovely fortified wine is blended from various vintages, with some of the base wine dating back 33 years. The name commemorates the seven brothers who continued the work started in Australia by Italian migrants Pasquale and Angela Fiumara. This release is dedicated to their second son Angelo. Its smooth, spicy flavours are best enjoyed after a good meal with some excellent company. Foodwise, just sit back and relax. If you must, serve a plate of walnuts.







Barbera ($19.50)
Many years ago, wine scribe Robin Bradley had some very kind words about my Amberton 1980 Bin 1 Cabernet Sauvignon in his book The Small Wineries of Australia: “A remarkable wine, the successful result of some courageous experimentation.” The variety may come from Italy rather than from France but I can say the same about this totally unwooded dry red from Robert Fiumara. It’s freshly flavoured and vibrant, dependant totally on pristine fruit flavour totally uncluttered by oak and just waiting for a slice of pizza from your favourite bistro.