Irish wines to try this Christmas

Irish producers are making some very drinkable wines to buy now

A bottle of Irish wine arrived on my doorstep yesterday evening. It wasn’t actually made in Ireland, but the winemaker lives in Co Kildare. For many years, a number of Irishmen have owned properties in France and elsewhere; Lochlainn Quinn at Ch. de Fieuzal, Paddy McKillen at Ch. La Coste and Gay McGuinness at Domaine des Anges. More recently I came across Maze wines from California, owned by Sligo businessman Gerry McSharry, and his son Paul, who lives in Napa and makes the wines.

But now wannabe winemakers will be pleased to know that you no longer need to move abroad to fulfill your life’s ambitions. Earlier this year, I wrote about several Irish winemakers who have managed to combine living here in Ireland with winemaking abroad. Sinéad and Liam Cabot bought a house and small vineyard in Slovenia in 2007 and made their first wine three years later. They do everything themselves, from pruning the vines to bottling the wine while still living most of the year in Westport, where they run a wine-importing business.  Last week, their three Roka wines, from Stajerska in Slovenia, received rave reviews from renowned critic Jancis Robinson (see The wines include a delicious scented racy Furmint, a crisp floral Laski Rizling, and a red wine, a beautiful pure Blaufränkisch. All sell for €16.99 in independent wine shops.

Also from Mayo is Roísín Curley, where she helps run the family pharmacy in Ballyhaunis. Her two wines from Burgundy, a white St. Romain and a red Beaune, are excellent, but sadly in very short supply. You could try looking in Sweeney’s in Glasnevin, Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, 64 Wines, Glasthule and other independents. Expect to pay around €50 a bottle.

The ‘Irish’ wine that arrived last night is called Oludeo La Soñadora, and comes from Spain. The Kildare-based winemaker is Simon Tyrrell, who has a degree in winemaking from Plumpton College in East Sussex, and has been making wine in the Rhône valley for five years now. The 2016 version of his Les Deux Cols Alizé (see below) is excellent. More recently, with several colleagues in Ireland, he bought three hectares of vines in the southern Rhône. The first vintage is currently fermenting away.


His latest creation is from Yecla in South-Eastern Spain, an hour’s drive inland from Alicante. The local grape here is Monastrell, known in France as Mourvèdre, and Mataro in Australia and California. Tyrrell, worked on this project with wine importer Tindal Wine Merchants, exclusive distributors of the wine. He was familiar with the region and says ‘I always thought there was potential to do something interesting in the higher, northern part of this valley, so we selected one single vineyard. I tried to give the wine a lighter, more elegant texture, without leaving any residual sugar. I am really happy with the results’. He already has another project, in the centre of Spain, underway.

Oludeo 2016, La Soñadora, Yecla, Spain
€16.99 from Searsons, Monkstown; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock.
A rounded medium to full-bodied wine with a certain elegance, combined with abundant dense dark fruits, a touch of liquorice and smooth tannins on the finish. Enjoy now with red meats, or keep a year or two.

Alizé 2016, Les Deux Cols, Côtes du Rhône
€16.95 from Searsons, Monkstown; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Cinnamon Cottage, Cork; Drink Store, D7; Lilac Wines, Clontarf; Donnybrook Fair; Green Man Wines, Terenure; Martin's, Fairview; Ardkeen, Waterford.
Also from Simon Tyrrell. Extravagantly perfumed, with smooth rich ripe red fruits, a delicious refreshing note and a lingering finish. Lovely wine.