Our newest Wine Sommelier introduces us to his company, Lyla Imports and talks us through pairing Adriano Zumbo’s desserts with his latest wines.

Interview with Adam Lyons

What’s the first thing that strikes you about Adriano Zumbo’s creations?

The mad scientist/creative genius and passion that must go into a lot of what he makes.

Which desserts have you selected for pairing against wines on the Lyla Imports list?

  1. Individual Chocolate Fondant with Tosti Brachetto d’acqui

Brachetto is a sweet native grape of Piedmont in northwest Italy. The Tosti Brachetto is a sparkling version bursting with notes of cherry, raspberry, rosewater/Turkish delight, and pairs so incredibly well with chocolate! **rejoice ladies, chocolate and bubbles!

I also paired this with several Zumbarons (macaroons) Vanilla, Nutella (OMG!!) and toasted marshmallow. The Brachetto worked very well with the first two, but the toasted marshmallow was the standout. The notes of strawberry and rose plus a lovely toasty-ness balanced so well with the berry notes and the cherry in the Brachetto.

  1. Pear Danish with Tosti Asti

Asti is a reference to a clone of Moscato that comes from the Asti region of Piemont. The clone, Moscato d’Asti di Canelli, while sweet, has a lovely vein of acidity that runs through the wine leaving your palate feeling clean and fresh afterwards, rather than the cloying sticky sweet of some types of Moscato. The Tosti Asti has notes of pear, baked apple and warm spices along with white peach. These flavours tie in so well with a lovely fresh baked, warm pear Danish.

  1. Passionfruit tart with Tenuta Ulisse Cerasuolo Rose

If sweet wine is not your choice, the Cerasuolo (cherry red) rose from Tenuta Ulisse worked a treat with Adriano’s passion fruit tart. The rose bursts with strawberry and vanilla notes and fresh picked raspberries. It has an almost “creamy texture” which worked in well with the creamy passionfruit tart. The lovely dry finish of the rose left my mouth clean and fresh…and wanting more!

Something a little bit fun was pairing up Tosti Pink Moscato and Zumbo’s gin and tonic Zumbaron. We recommend people make a cocktail of Hendrix gin, cucumber or fresh lime and serve it tall over ice topped with Tosti pink Moscato. Tosti pink has notes of rose, lavender and Turkish delight. Combined with cucumber and Hendrix it’s summer in a glass. So having one of these with a Zumbo G&T Zumbaron is “afternoon delight” indeed.

Adam’s guiding rule…

Richer dessert wines with notes of cherry, coffee, chocolate and raspberry will go better with chocolate and richer baked desserts (date pudding, chocolate pudding, tarts etc.) think Muscats, Recioto Della Valpolicella, Port.

Lighter dessert wines with go best with fruit based desserts and pastries….Tokay, Muscadelle, Passito and Asti.

What’s your favourite Summer Italian wine and which Zumbo dessert goes best with that?

That’s hard! Very hard!! If I had to pick only two Italian wines to drink this summer it would have to be the Tenuta Ulisse Cerasuolo and the Tosti! The Prosecco on it’s own may work with a citrus tart but to be fair it’s something best enjoyed on its own at the start of a night or mixed with Artspritz or Aperol to make a spritz. **Artspritz is a product we import. It’s a similar idea to Aperol just not quite as bitter with a slightly richer texture.  The Cerasuolo rose is just a great all rounder for summer. It works a treat with Adriano’s passionfruit tart.

What trends do you see in wines: red, white and dessert?

Prosecco is definitely the go to bubbles this summer. It has been growing in popularity for some time now. Prosecco is such a fun, uncomplicated pleasure….just like summer in Australia! You don’t have to think too hard to find ways to enjoy summer…same goes with Prosecco. Have it on its own, with oyster, seafood, as a spritz, add Gin and Lime and serve tall…it’s the go to summer fun fling for this year!

Pinot Grigio will again be top of the pops as it’s an easy breezy drink that goes down easy on a hot day. The more adventurous are starting to opt for some new varietals as they gain confidence in the new winemaking approach coming out of Italy (which is essentially new world wine making like here in Australia). Varietals like Pecorino, Cococciola, Arneis, Cortese (which is an easy swap for those Pinot Grigio tragics out there) are on the move.

Sangiovese has always been the biggest seller here in Australia because of our love affair with Tuscany. Nebbiolo has also been popular for a while but a little out of most peoples reach due to price. However,  varietals such as Montepulciano are  getting a lot more exposure here, it is gaining a huge fan base here, probably due to the large number of comparisons that can be drawn between it and MaClaren vale/Langhorne creek Shiraz…an Aussie favourite! That said it needs to come from a new world style producer from Abruzzo to draw these comparisons in my opinion. Our producer, Tenuta Ulisse, has three great versions of this gorgeous grape at three different price points but they definitely draw comparisons to shiraz that have made them great sellers for us.

Meet Adam Lyons

Having spent 10 years as a chef, Adam Lyons was always looking for new fun things to eat, cook, and experiment with. It was whilst serving as Restaurant Manager at Rock Restaurant (a two hat restaurant in the Hunter valley), that he was introduced to the wonderful world of wine. Chef/Owner Andrew Clarke needed a Sommelier and he could see in Adam the drive to learn and rise to the challenge. “I learned as much as possible from Andrew, the wine makers at the Cockfighters Ghost Vineyard, through reading every book I could find and spent most of my days off in the wondrous array of vineyards located throughout the Hunter valley,” says Adam.

Lyla Imports takes people on a taste adventure through all of the wonders in the world of wine; why you should try it, the romance behind the grape, the dish it goes with, or even how the grape got its name.

“I create memories through my wine conversations with people on a daily basis. My own personal memory created around wine started my business.  The journey began in began in 2011 when my wife and I were in Italy. She was unaware of the engagement ring in my safely guarded bag. I hoped to propose to her in a Tuscan field full of poppies while having a picnic. However, fate intervened. Instead of Tuscan fields, I proposed to her whilst having a lovely dinner in Tremezzo at El Timon restaurant…. with an uninterrupted view of Lake Como with a full moon just peaking over the mountain. I really wanted a memento of the evening and as I had enjoyed the wine more than anything, I took down the name so I could buy it here in Australia. Unfortunately, nobody sold it. So I decided to offer the market something I love and sealed marital bliss with.”

Adam is an avid studier of the wine industry, keeping his knowledge current through books and vineyard tours abroad. “There’s Tuscany, the vineyards in Piedmont, Veneto and vines in New Zealand and Spain,” says Adam of his travels.

Lyla Imports has plans for next year to bring in wine from Veneto and hopefully some more from the south. “We are also talking to some Spanish and Portuguese producers. While my heart is still definitely in Italy, it can’t hurt to look further abroad as there is so much great vino out there. Life is too short to drink bad Vino (and good doesn’t have to be expensive!).”

Buy wines from Lyla Imports here www.lylawines.com.au  or visit

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