Raising the Roof
As Raymond Blake continues his tour of some of Ireland’s independent wine shops, he discovers a revamped Redmonds with a treasure trove of little known wines and speciality beers
I barely recognised the place myself when I called recently, after the latest revamp, which raised the roof (literally) as well as adding width and length to the shop, all courtesy of a massive, yet invisible, frame of steel and reinforced concrete. “This is it,” says Jimmy, promising there will be no more renovations, “God forbid anybody ever wants to move a wall!” The effect is to brighten the space, making it more welcoming – and more likely to draw customers down to the end of the shop where a wall of Guigal’s greats calls invitingly: La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque. Lurking amongst them is a bottle of Guiseppe Mascarello, Monprivato Cà d’Morissio Barolo 1997 – probably the only bottle of this wine in Ireland. I will be back once my lottery numbers come up.
Coming back to earth, there’s a great selection of little known wines, imported directly by the Redmonds, which account for about 40 per cent of the range, meaning there’s a refreshing absence of jaded, big brand names. If you want to go off the beaten track, Redmonds is a good place to start.
Whatever about wine, in recent years Aidan and Jimmy have built a nationwide reputation for their excellent beer selection, as impressive in its own way as the ranks of noble cuvées from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the like. “We could double the range and still not stock all we want to,” says Jimmy, “beer is the new wine”. The refrigerated beer display is open, purpose-built at great cost in Spain, so you don’t have to open a glass door or punch your way through those ghastly swathes of clear plastic to reach the bottle of your choice. “These are ‘speciality’ beers,” says Jimmy. “‘Craft’ is a naff term that has only been used recently,” he avers.
At first glance, it’s a rainbow dazzle of colour and quirky labels, with the potential to confuse, but, as Jimmy points out, their typical beer-buying customer knows what they want: “Today’s beer drinker has the internet, yesterday’s wine drinker, the person setting out to discover wine 20 years ago didn’t have that. They come into the shop knowing what they want.”
And if they don’t, himself and Aidan will be there to guide them – and perhaps guide them towards a wine purchase as well. Something from Austria… or a treat from the recently expanded Portuguese range… or a magnum of Vincent Girardin, Puligny-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes 2010. Yum.
Just the one:
There wasn’t a moment’s hesitation from Jimmy Redmond when he was asked to select a single wine to take with him to a desert island (refrigeration facilities are available). He reached immediately for this classy white from Lugana’s leading producer, made on the southern shores of Lake Garda from the Turbiana (Verdicchio) grape. There’s texture and substance here, rich fruit and nice length on the finish.
Never heard of Terra Alta? Don’t worry, not many people have. It lies in the extreme southwest of Catalonia, about 100 miles from Barcelona, and it is only in recent years that its potential has begun to be exploited. In this blend, traditional Garnacha marries with international Syrah and Merlot to yield plenty of fruit, some spice, and pleasant acidity to keep things fresh on the finish.
From Austria’s Kremstal region, which borders the more famous Wachau, this is classic Grüner: sharp and poised – think grapefruit, not mango – with a stony core of flavour to guarantee long life. If you are the patient type you will be well rewarded by putting this away for a few years. It goes perfectly with Wiener Schnitzel and will also serve well with the difficult-to-match asparagus risotto.
If Chinon Rouge is not exactly forgotten then it is certainly overlooked and sits deep in the shadows cast by its famous cousins from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône. Perhaps its unforgiving character in youth is its undoing? This one, at five years old, is just beginning to soften: smoky, spicy fruit yielding to softer notes though the firm core still demands red meat.