My favourite wine importers

I have written in the past about the difficulties faced by small wine importers given our draconian wine taxes. We are around 650% higher than the EU average and more expensive for wine than countries such as Sweden and Finland.

One group that also suffers from this high taxation is the restaurant trade who traditionally made most of their profits from wine sales. Not any more. The best approach for a restaurant in my opinion is to find or train a good wine waiter or two and seek out wines from importers.

Two of my favourite importers are Tyrrell and Co, based in Wicklow who specialise in the Rhone; and Cabot and Co, in Westport. Liam and Sinead Cabot have a few specialities including fine wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux but also sources some very interesting Austrian and Slovenian wines as well as from good producers in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

The Tyrrells have diversified recently and Simon now makes some of his own wines in the Southern Rhone (eg, Les Deux Cols) and is behind the excellent Craigies Cider.

One place these two importers come together is in No 1 Pery Place, probably my favourite place to stay in Limerick. There is a small wine shop selling a selection of wines from the two importers that is well worth visiting and is one of Limerick’s best kept secrets.

I also recommend Sash restaurant, particularly for the Choucroute Garni — Sauerkraut and of course the finest Limerick Pork Sausages and bacon sourced from O’Loughlins Butchers. It works particularly well with the Moric Blaufrankish on the list.

BWG that runs the Spar, EuroSpar and Mace franchises have a knack for finding wines at rock bottom prices that offer flavour as well as value. The Tussock Jumper varietal range arrived recently and generally offers good value and the quality you would hope for given the price. My favourites in the range are listed right.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Tussock Jumper Pinot Noir, Vin de France 2014 — €12.99

My favourite wine importers

Inexpensive Pinot Noir is always a difficult proposition and you should not expect to get concentration or an excess of elegance but hopefully, like in this example, you will get fragrant soft fruit aromas, redcurrants and strawberries, supple tannins and a touch of complexity on the finish. Try with Pulled Pork, Charcuterie or grilled meats.

Stockist: Spar, EuroSpar and Mace

Tussock Jumper Malbec, Argentina 2014 — €11.99

From the San Juan region to the north west of Mendoza a warm dry region at reasonable altitude. This is a ripe, fruit forward Malbec with good concentration and not a little elegance given its youth and good value price. Blackcurrant and Blackberry fruits and a hint of chocolate. Try with peppered steaks, barbecued meats, even Cheese Burgers!

Stockist: Spar, EuroSpar and Mace

Tussock Jumper Riesling, Rheinessen, Germany 2014 — €11.99

Good to see Spar take a risk on a well-made German Riesling. Now be warned this has a little bit of residual sugar (25g per litre) but it also has some lovely pear and apple acidity and there is nothing wrong with a little sweetness, especially for an aperitif. Try this outside with a bowl of salty olives or some spicy chicken wings from the barbecue. Serve well chilled.

Stockist: Spar, EuroSpar and Mace

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Blanc d’Ogier 2012, IGP Collines Rhodaniennes, France — €22.95

My favourite wine importers

This is classic Northern Rhone but from a relatively young vineyard outside the Appellation zone. A blend of 50% Viognier, 25% Marsanne and 25% Roussanne so as you would expect this has ripe peach and stone fruit aromas with touches of melon, pear and honey and clean fresh acidity from the Roussanne.

Stockists: Redmonds Ranelagh, Jus de Vine Portmarnock, 1 Pery Sq. Limerick, www.TheWineStore.ie

Simone Joseph Beaumes de Venise 2012, Rhone, France — €17.99

Stockists: Redmonds Ranelagh, Jus de Vine Portmarnock, 1Pery Sq. Limerick, www.TheWineStore.ie

The village of Beaumes de Venise near Avignon is more famous for its honeyed dessert wine but they also make red Cru Cotes du Rhone. A blend of Grenache and Syrah and packed with supple red fruits — gentle on the palate and a good match for grilled lamb or perhaps with Guinea Fowl or Poule au Pot.

Moric Blaufrankisch 2012, Burgenland, Austria — €23.99

Ripe cherries and red fruit aromas with a taut elegant structure not unlike a German Pinot Noir but a little fruitier. This is a regular on wine lists as it needs hand selling — in Knockranny I’ve had it paired with partridge and in Pery Square with choucroute.

Stockists: Cabot and Co Westport (cabotandco.com), 1 Pery Sq. limerick, Poppyseed Clarinbridge, On The Grapevine Dalkey


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