Celebrating 15 years!
Since our opening late summer 1999, we have focused on importing and retailing authentic wines made by growers who feel passionate about their work, land and traditions, growers who highly respect the environment.
To celebrate our 15 years in business, we are delighted to offer 10% on wines that truly counted for us, either because they received rave reviews from the press, have been amongst our best sellers or simply because we feel they particularly represent well what Le Caveau is all about.
We have picked 15; we probably could have picked one hundred, so we can assure you these wines are really special.
(Prices are valid until October 31st, or while stocks last)
Alain Brumont, Gros Manseng – Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Pays de Gascogne IGP €14.65 now €13.20
Our first wine buying trip in the South West of France, around Easter 2000, felt like Christmas and our birthday had come at once: imagine growers as famous and brilliant as Alain Brumont (Montus), Pascal Verhaeghe (Cedre), Luc de Conti (Tour des Gendres) and Charles Hours (Uroulat) had no importer in Ireland. Needless say, we became their importer on first meeting.
This is one of the wines that we brought back from this trip and it became our best seller between 2001 and 2010. Crisp, intensely flavoured and lengthy, this is a brilliant wine to drink on its own or with numerous dishes, including white flesh fish, roast chicken or salads.
Bodegas Menade, Rueda DO Verdejo 2013 €14.65 now €13.20
This is a very recent find, and it has gained almost instant popularity, selling very well in our shop (This one has been Charles’ favourite wine in the shop this summer) as well as in restaurants. It featured in John Wilson’s Top 20 Wines for Summer 2014 (Irish Times).
Organic farming, low intervention in the winery and small yields contribute to the concentration of natural flavours and intensity in this wine.
Domaine Ménard, Cuvée Marine 2013, Pays de Gascogne IGP €11.95 now €10.75
The other white gem from the South West, this is the wine that took first spot on our best-seller chart from Brumont Gros Manseng-Sauvignon back in 2011 – and has kept it ever since.
Fresh, zippy with gorgeous grapefruit flavours, what we initially thought would be the perfect summer wine turned out to be an all-year favourite.
Château du Cèdre 2011, Cahors AC €22.80 now €20.50
Another find from our first South Western buying trip in 2000. Pascal Verhaeghe’s Chateau du Cèdre is rightly regarded as the best producer in Cahors and probably one of the most respected in the whole of France. Tenacious work and experimentation in the vineyards, low intervention in the winery (why mask perfect fruit and great terroir?) and perfectly located vineyard result in an intensely flavoured wine, beautifully structured and with superb balance -Malbec in its most elegant form.
Vincent Girardin, Santenay 1er Cru ‘les Gravières’ vieilles vignes 2008 €31.95 now €28.75
When we opened Le Caveau, Vincent had already reached stardom; his fruit-driven and articulate wines had won him numerous awards and prizes. Getting an allocation from him would have been tricky; luckily my brother Hubert Rossignol was Chef de Viticulture there. He helped establishing a contact and eventually our collaboration with Vincent.
Santenay ‘Gravières’ has been one of our best-selling red Burgundies – its smooth, rich fruit, terroir expression and amazing value have always connected well with our customers.
We have asked our wonderful Sales Team – Claire O’Boyle-Gallagher, Gary Byrne and Colm McCan – to pick their favourite.
This week we start with Claire, who joined us back in March 2005, and have been the pillar of our success in Dublin, Claire’s genuine passion for real wine and work ethics have ensured so many of our wines are available in leading wine shops and restaurants in the Capital today.
‘I began working with Le Caveau almost ten years ago, after having being a fan of both the wines and Pascal’s passion for quality, his quest to find wines that are off the beaten track and in some cases, wines that others might write off as being ‘hand-sells’.
One wine that encapsulates this very well is the Antonio Camillo ‘Principio’ Ciliegiolo Maremma Rosso DOC. It is the personal project of Antonio Camillo, who is better known as the winemaker for Poggio Argentiera. It 100% Ciliegiolo, a native and ancient Tuscan varietal that is believed to be either the direct ancestor/offspring of Sangiovese.
The vines are grown in two small vineyards (totalling a mere 5 ha) in the southern Maremma, are about forty years are old and farmed organically. The wine is lightish in color and body (a world away from the blockbuster mold) and bursting with ripe red fruits, floral hints, freshness, minerality and a palate-cleansing astringency that makes for a wonderful foil for rustic, hearty foods.’ Claire O’Boyle-Gallagher
Antonio Camillo ‘Principio’ 2013 Ciliegiolo Maremma Rosso DOC €15.80 now €14.20
download the pdf version here
André Bonhomme, Viré-Clessé ‘Cuvée Spéciale’ 2010 €21.25 now €19.10
We witnessed three generations at work in this long established and highly reputed estate. Freshly graduated from a school of viticulture, Aurélien has recently taken over the reins, and his first job has been to obtain organic certification for the 11-ha vineyard. Mind you, André Bonhomme was applying these methods since the late fifties, but never looked for certification. Viré-Clessé is one of these Southern Burgundy micro-climate where the wines combined the roundness, generosity and exotic flavours of Macon wines with the purity and minerality of the Cotes de Beaune (think Meursault, Chassagne etc..). In fact, it was dubbed “Le Meursault de Macôn” by the sommelier of Paris’s famed Le Taillevent restaurant.
Ghislaine Barthod, Bourgogne Rouge 2010 €32.35 now €29.00
This wine is not a best-seller, nor can it be found in too many restaurants and it certainly is on the higher end of the Burgundy price spectrum. But a simple sniff and a single sip will transport you to Burgundy – pure, authentic, delicately crafted and truly representing its region, this is one of these rare Bourgogne that could be easily mistaken for a village wine.
Meyer-Fonné, Pinot Blanc 2012 €17.45 now 15.70
Out of all the growers we work with, Félix Meyer is probably the one who received the most mentions in the Irish press. Considering he only owns 11 hectares in Alsace, this is some achievement. His wines are crystal pure and are always layered with generous ripe fruit. This Pinot Blanc is no exception it is very popular in our shop, and can be found on the list of numerous top restaurants and specialist wine shops around the country.
Pierre et Catherine Breton, Bourgueil ‘Trinch!’ 2011 €20.40 now €18.35
We got bitten by the natural wine bug in 2006, after meeting London-based wine merchant Eric Narioo (Les Caves de Pyrene) in Montpellier and tasting the wines he had uncovered later that year in London.
Natural wines are these pure, precise wines that are full of life, sometimes funky but always admirable. They are obtained from organic / biodynamic farming, gentle manipulation in the winery and no additions, except minimal and sometimes even zero additions of sulphur.
Pierre et Catherine Breton are amongst the most respected ‘Natural’ winegrowers in the Loire, each year they welcome at their estate dozens of young winegrowers interested in learning their methods.
Bourgueil ‘Trinch!’ is the purest and liveliest expression of Cabernet Franc you will ever come across. The primary fruit jumps out of the glass while its light structure, freshness and liveliness cleanse the palate, making it ready for the next sip.
Our second Sales Team’s pick comes from Colm McCan.
Colm is the well-known and highly respected Consultant Sommelier at Ballymaloe House, Lecturer at Ballymaloe Cookery School and Organiser/Coordinator extraordinaire of all the wines events at Ballymaloe KerryGold LitFest.
We were thrilled to see Colm’s hard work and passion recognized this month, when he was awarded ‘2014 Best Sommelier in Ireland’ by the Food and Wine Magazine readers and judging panel.
‘Having just joined the Le Caveau team this summer, there are so many wines I felt could be included here through our experiences of Pascal’s wines at events, tastings and listing at Ballymaloe House & Cookery School over the past 15 years. I have chosen ‘Clos Uroulat Jurancon’ by Charles & Marie Hours. At the cookery school wine lectures presented by Pascal & I, this top Jurancon has always wowed everyone, even those who may at first say “I don’t really like sweet wine” but once tasted, they love it! Clos Uroulat has been offered by the the glass at Ballymaloe ever since we met Charles Hours, and his daughter Marie at one of Pascal’s tastings. We were so immediately taken with this wine – a sweet wine, but not too sweet, with enticing exotic aromas & flavours, abundant minerality and refreshing acidity. Simply delicious!
I could also have chosen the wines by Pierre & Catherine Breton – their Vouvray ‘La Dilettante’ and Bourgueil ‘Trinch’ having become firm favourites on the wine list at Ballymaloe. We so admire the Bretons for quietly ploughing a consistent furrow of miniminal intervention for many decades now. Their names always features in any talk about real/natural/artisan wines – notwithstanding the connection that Pierre used to supply the wine for the Ballymaloe restaurant in Paris ‘La Ferme Irlandaise’ in the 1980’s.’ Colm McCan
Clos Uroulat Jurancon 2011, Charles et Marie Hours €26.90 now €24.20
download the pdf version here
Champagne Gobillard 1er Cru NV €39.55 now €35.50
We’ve always believed that good grower’s Champagnes have an edge over the larger brands, there is a sense of small is beautiful with these family-owned Champagne houses and value is certainly much better.
We started working with Gobillard in late 2001, after Thierry, one of the owners, met with one of my brother (Bernard) during a hunting trip in North Canada. Gobillard was on the verge of signing an exclusive agreement to supply Aer Lingus, but the dramatic events of September that year, followed by the slowdown in air traffic contributed to the deal being cancelled.
Thierry approached us, we tasted his Champagne, loved it and several press mentions and listings in top-end Restaurants later, we had adopted Gobillard as our own house Champagne.
Jean Foillard, Morgon ‘Côte du Py’ 2011 €34.75 now €31.20
It was a tip from Edward Arnold, Cellar Master at Trinity College that lead us to Jean Foillard.
Foillard works naturally, he farms organically and adds nothing to his wines, however you won’t notice you are drinking a natural wine until the third or fourth glass. Cote du Py is a vineyard planted on a hill consisting of crumbly volcanic soils. The expression of the Gamay grapes there lean towards Pinot Noir character and some blind tasting (particularly with the 2008 vintage) has led many experienced tasters (me included) to point towards Chambolle or Volnay rather than Morgon.
Cantina Frentana, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2013 €12.25 now €10.95
What we are seeking in a wine is how authentic it is, how true to its origin, what kind of emotion it transmits and does it represent value in its particular price point.
Frentana ticks all these boxes, it unapologetically tastes like a real Montepulciano with lovely red fruit and cherry, pinned with a rustic, earthy edge, it is the exact opposite of a branded wine, made to suit international palates and we love it even more for that.
Now it is Gary Byrne’s turn to recommend a favourite wine of his. Before joining us, Gary worked as Sommelier in some of Ireland’s best known restaurants including the Commons, l’Ecrivain and Roscoff, he also worked in two Irish wine companies. Gary’s experience, dynamism and great knowledge of wine help us ensure our wines our listed by the leading Restaurants in the Capital.
“A personal favourite, and a wine I would be happy to take home anytime is the Vinsobres from Domaine Chaume-Arnaud. Produced from fruit grown on the Chaume family’s 33 hectares of biodynamic vineyards in the small and up-and-coming Vinsobres appellation, this is a typical Southern Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. The wine is full-bodied and beautifully ripe, with dark, spicy fruit flavours and a fragrant, typically herby Mediterranean character. Overall, a very savoury and enjoyable wine with superb freshness and elegance.”
Chaume Arnaud Vinsobres 2011 €20.35 now €18.30
We would have included so many more in this list. Staring with Jean-Claude Regnaudot Bourgogne Pinot Noir – the wine for which we received our first mention in the press –Tom Doorley, in the Sunday Tribune at the time wrote : ‘The best Bourgogne rouge I have ever tasted is the juicy, cherry-infused Bourgogne from Jean-Claude Regnaudot that Le Caveau, a new shop in Kilkenny sells for an unbelievable £8.95’
Unfortunately due to very small successive harvests in Burgundy and continued popularity of this wine, vintage 2012 has now sold out (2013 will be available early next year)
Other wines that have been very successful in their time, but that we no longer stock include Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile), Stormy Cape red (South Africa), Champagne Billecart-Salmon and the Madfish range from Australia.
It has been a great journey from which we have learned something new at each corner,
we met extraordinary growers who take pride in what they do and we had real fun and pleasure tasting and discovering their wines,
We have built one of the strongest wholesale team in Ireland, made of people who share the same passion for genuine, real wines, always prepared to go the extra mile to satisfy any request,
We got great support from the Irish wine press, our wines seem to have stroke the right chords and have received very positive reviews throughout the years,
But all of this would not have been possible without you, our customers. We received your heart-warming support from our first steps, at the opening of our shop in Kilkenny’s Market Yard in September 1999, where we showcased our first imports, an all-French selection made of 50 or so wines; it continued with the launch of our website, then with the development of our wholesale arm, where our wines got their entries on the lists of some of the very best restaurants and specialist wine shops around Ireland.
And this journey is continuing, our list is constantly evolving and growing, this year alone we have brought in over 25 new wines, and many new trips are planned,
So all going well, here’s to another 15 years!
download the pdf version here