New Irish Winemakers

January 19, 2018

Many people will be surprised to learn that Ireland has a rich history of involvement in the wine trade from the 16th century onwards. Until recently, the most significant connection was in Bordeaux; where Irish emigrants fleeing conflict at home settled in the 17th & 18th century and became involved in the wine trade. These early settlers became known as ‘The Wine Geese’ and were hugely influential with involvement in great estates such as Chateau’s Lynch-Bages, Leoville-Barton and Kirwan.

There is now a new generation of Irish winemakers and I am excited by the quality of wines they are making. Over the last year we have stocked wines from three wineries that just happen to have Irish winemakers at the helm. As each is making wines in different areas, I though it would be interesting to focus on the wines they are making.

Sinead & Liam Cabot, Roka Winery, Western Slovenia

Since 2011 Sinead & Liam Cabot have been making wine in Western Slovenia. They have 1.5 hectares of vines and are making small quantities of high quality wines using 3 varietals: Furmint, Blaufrankisch & Laski Riesling. Liam & Sinead are great believers in doing as little as possible to their wines. In their own words: ‘ The only process undertaken in the cellar is the addition of very minimal amounts of sulphite when required. No sedimentation, no inoculated yeasts, no temperature control, no acidity adjustments, no enzymes etc…No nothing.’ But theirs is not a careless, carefree approach to winemaking;  it is surprisingly difficult to do nothing because it comes with risks.  Their wines are characterised by a striking minerality and are very much ‘of the earth’. We stock the Furmint and Blaufrankisch and each is a testament to the skill of this Irish winemaking couple.

Roisin Curley, Maison Roisin Curley, Burgundy, France

Roisín  Curley  is  an  Irish  winemaker  and  micro-‐négociant  who  makes  small-­scale  wines  in Burgundy.  She has a preference for organically  grown  fruit  which she sources from small parcels of land that are grown and cared for  by  conscientious  growers. Róisín’s  winemaking   philosophy  has  traditional  influences  and  minimal  intervention. She  respects  each batch of   grapes   individually and  steers  them  through  the  production  process with  great care, producing  elegant wines that  express where  they  come  from  and  who  has  nurtured  them   along the  way. Burgundy is a huge wine region with many talented local producers, so it is a great achievement to get your wine to stand out which Roisin certainly does.


Simon Tyrrell & Charles Derain, Les Deux Cols, Rhone

I must confess an interest here as I have bought a share in Simon & Charles’ winery – Les Deux Cols. This is however a recent event and my admiration for their winemaking abilities precede this by many years. They try to follow a  largely ‘natural’ winemaking processes with organic agriculture and minimal intervention in the winery. Their wines have clean, clear flavours that show a strong sense of terroir.

Gerard Maguire

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