The Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations that take place all over the world this week are a reminder to us all that the Irish have always looked beyond these shores.
Although historically this was mainly for reasons of political or economic necessity, these enterprising emigrants often sought out or created exciting opportunities for themselves in their adopted countries of residence.
In the case of France many of the best of these opportunities lay in the wine trade, evidence of the of the success of these Irish “wine geese” of centuries ago is still plain to see in the names of some of today’s leading Bordeaux Châteaux such as Lynch-Bages, Kirwan, Phelan-Segur, and in the case of Barton family, the estates remain with the family who left Ireland almost two hundred years ago. The Bartons are famously proud of their Irish heritage, so much so that, patriarch of the clan, Anthony Barton even holds an Irish Passport.
The wines detailed below illustrate the central role these Irish émigrés played in the wine trade of the adopted country.
Starting in Bordeaux, the Barton family's latest venture, Château Mauvesin-Barton (€24.95 down from €27.95) has started to develop so besides dark fruit there're savoury cedar like notes and a rounded palate.
But the story doesn’t end in Bordeaux, because following in the footsteps of the pioneering 'wine geese' there is new generation of young Irish making a name for themselves in the wine-world in France today.
One such wine goose is Isla Gordon, originally from Co. Carlow. After spending a number of years training under Jeremy Hyland, possibly the best regarded viticulturist in NZ, at Kim Crawford wines and later at Astrolabe wines, Isla and her Australian winemaker Husband Paul decided it was time to set out on their own and chose the Languedoc as the place best suited to the style of wine they both wanted to produce.
Today, working with some unique terroirs and old vineyards treated organically and by hand, the Gordons produce some stunningly good old-world wines but with a modern Oz twang such as the delicious wine below.
Domaine la Sarabande Les Rabasses (€18.95 down from €21.45) Is classic Languedoc blend of Grenache, Carignan & Syrah, this has blackberry and cherry fruit plus liquorice complemented by subtle oak notes.
Another of these modern-day wine geese, based in the South of France is Neasa Corish Miquel. Originally from Foxrock in Co. Dublin, Neasa is married to winemaker Laurent Miquel and living in France. The family are making delicious red and white wines from their organically farmed vineyards in Corbières region.
Les Fleurs Blanche (€14.45) is made from Grenache Gris, an interesting grape variety which has hints of peachy fruit, a ripe mid a palate and a stony minerality on the finish.
Looking further afield, I have an example of an Irish Wine goose making their way to Australia.
Kevin O’Brien’s great grandfather James O'Brien and great grandmother Mary Mullins independently left Co. Clare they later met and married in South Australia.
Kevin’s vineyard is located in the McLaren Vale, its name ‘Kangarilla’ is an aboriginal word meaning a place with abundant resources. The vineyards are located on multiple sites and ancient geologies giving the wines complexity. Farming sustainably, Kevin uses small batch hands-on techniques to give his wines a natural fruit expression, reflective of site and season.
Kangarilla Road Terzetto (€16.95 down from €17.95) is an intriguing mix of three Italian varieties gives perfumed tea-brack, raisin and cherry on the nose, with palate of prunes, cinnamon and chalky tannins
All that leaves for me to say is, Sláinte agus Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibh!
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