Rural wine choices: Sourcing outside the capital

The network of independent wine shops around the country deserve your support

Probably the most common complaint I receive is from readers who live outside of Leinster, who cannot buy the wines I recommend each week. I apologise for this and sympathise, but please be assured that this is not a deliberate act on my part. In many cases, I do not receive information on stockists until the very last minute. I am not Dublin-centric, and I am always delighted to come across wines that have availability nationwide.

My dealings tend to be with importers rather than retailers (although some do both) and I do try to keep in regular contact with those based in the capital and beyond. Not all are set up to keep me up-to-date with their wines and offers. However, my door is always open.

The supermarkets and off-licence chains stock a decent, if unexciting, range of wines. The recession led them to be less innovative, but this is starting to change. As documented here before, it is the two German discounters that are leading the way here, Lidl with various French wine sales, and Aldi with their regular Small Parcel Lot wines. Dunnes Stores is currently upgrading it’s offering, and Tesco can draw on a huge range from their large UK parent. SuperValu varies depending on the size of outlet and franchise ownership, but some have a good selection. However, the most interesting wines tend to be found in smaller retailers.

The greater Dublin area does have the largest concentration of wine drinkers in the country, and therefore the greatest number of good wine shops. But most large towns and cities beyond Dublin, Cork and Galway, such as Waterford, Dundalk, Wexford, Kilkenny, Westport, Clonmel, Drogheda, Limerick and many others, have specialist wine shops or off-licences, many of them very good. This network of independent wine shops deserve your support and encouragement. I list these as stockists whenever possible.


It is also worth keeping mail order and online companies, such as Wines Direct in Mullingar, in mind. It requires a little forward planning, but the internet offers a limitless opportunities to buy wine. Virtually every good wine shop now has a website, and many offer a free nationwide 48-hour delivery service. At the risk of annoying everyone in the wine business, the UK-based non-profit Wine Society have a wonderful range of wines and deliver to Ireland each month, or allow you to collect your order from Newry (or indeed, France) at favourable duty rates.

This week three wines that should be readily available to everyone, no matter where they live – in the Republic at least.

Marques de Concha Chardonnay, Limarí, Chile, 13.5%, €15.99 (currently €12 in SuperValu). Attractive rich peach fruits with subtle grilled nuts. Nicely balanced, well-made wine. With creamy or barbecued chicken. Stockists: Tesco, SuperValu.

Cepa Lebrel Rioja Reserva 2011, 13.5%, €8.99. Light piquant dark cherry fruits with a nice mature leafiness. Try it with lamb. Stockists: Lidl

Doña Paula Black Label 2014, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina, 14%, €12. Medium to full-bodied with ripe plums and loganberries, layered with vanilla and dark chocolate. Stockists: Tesco, SuperValu