Le Caveau, a 21 year-long journey in six landmark wines
When we opened our doors for the first time, on the Market Yard, Kilkenny in the middle of September 1999, our selection consisted of wines sourced from diverse Irish wine importers, a fridge full of cheeses, salamis, patés and our own wine imports.
These wine imports were sourced from family-owned and run vineyards, exclusively from France for the first couple of years.
The South-West of France took the lion’s share of our selection, at one stage we had 8 different wines from the village of Cahors, 5 or 6 from the Madiran region, few from Bergerac and a couple of from Jurançon. Out of a total of around 36 wines we imported directly, we had to urgently re-think and re-balance the provenance of our offering!
We are still working with 4 of the original South-Western estates, Château du Cèdre in Cahors is one of them. Wonderful ‘French Malbec’ produced by the Verhaege brothers from their biodynamically managed 26-ha vineyards. If you haven’t tasted Château du Cèdre, Cahors yet, this is a must try.
Of course, hailing from the village of Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy also received a very special treatment, and represented about a third of our entire selection in these early days. One wine in particular, which we discovered with the help of my brother Hubert (who was working with Domaine Vincent Girardin at the time) came from the village of Dezize-les-Maranges.
Jean-Claude Regnaudot always worked in his own way, in the 80’s and early 90’s when wines from Maranges, south of Côte de Beaune, where mostly sold in bulk to negociant houses, growers were focusing on producing quantity, rather than quality, but Jean-Claude is a perfectionist who love work well done, so quality was always in his mind. Jean-Claude Regnaudot Bourgogne Pinot Noir brought us our first newspaper review – Tom Doorley, writing for the Sunday Tribune at the time wrote: ‘The best red Bourgogne I have ever tasted’. With our shop only opened a months earlier, this did help putting us on the map. That was vintage 1998, we are now selling the 2018 – another landmark!
One of our best-selling white in these early days came from Alsace, from Domaine Meyer-Fonné to be precise. His Alsace Pinot Blanc was brought to our attention by a friend, sommelier in France and by an article in the Revue des Vins de France magazine, where Journalist Dessauve wrote: ‘ Year in, year out, this wine is a contender for the best value white in the whole of France’.
In 2006, we discovered the wonders of wines made naturally, from organic grapes and most importantly with nothing added in them. From the first flight we landed in Ireland, Elena Pantaleoni’s La Stoppa Trebbiolo encapsulated to perfection what these ‘free-wines’ (Vins libres) were all about. Vineyards free from chemical, wines free from additives and hard manipulations, resulting in wines that taste free and alive.
Another wine brought in during this period, and has been our best-seller ever since, is Gran Credo Tempranillo from Rioja. Gonzalo Gonzalo Grijalba produces this vibrant and juicy wine from the healthiest of fruit, gently pressed and with no oak-aging.
And to finish, a sparkling we seem unable to keep in, from a producer based in France’s Bergerac region with whom we have been working from the very beginning. Tour des Gendres, Pét-Nat (Pétillant Naturel) made by Luc de Conti.
As so many others, the above 6 vignerons have become very good friends over the years; they are true artisans, who love and care for their land and enjoy what they are doing. Sláinte!
Save 15% (€38.61) plus Free Delivery in Ireland