In­de­pen­dence days

Three re­tail­ers are cel­e­brat­ing an­niver­saries

The Irish Times Magazine - - DRINK - JOHN WIL­SON

This week three in­de­pen­dent wine re­tail­ers are all cel­e­brat­ing some kind of an­niver­sary. Clon­tarf Wines opened for busi­ness five years ago, and was run by Ron­nie and He­lena Car­ragher. Ron­nie was one of the true gen­tle­men of the wine trade, a man with a won­der­ful, dry wit. Sadly he died re­cently. Lo­cal boy James Tobin is now in charge, still as­sisted by He­lena. Tobin spent the past 12 years work­ing in O’Briens Wine, and man­aged sev­eral shops. “It is ab­so­lutely amaz­ing and ful­fill­ing,” says Tobin. “It is hard work and long hours, but work­ing for your­self makes it all worth­while. I al­ways ad­mired the shop and what He­lena and Ron­nie had done with it. I grew up in Clon­tarf and live here, so it is great to be back home again.”

The shop is small, but beau­ti­fully laid out, with a trea­sure trove of re­ally in­ter­est­ing wines, as well as cheeses, cold meats and other edi­ble good­ies.

Red Nose Wines was set up by Gary Gub­bins 10 years ago. An elec­tronic en­gi­neer, he found him­self work­ing and liv­ing in Paris. “It was there that the wine bug re­ally hit off,” he says. “We would spend week­ends in the Loire, Bordeaux and Châteauneuf- du- Pape. Then I be­came friendly with a lo­cal bistro owner whose fa­ther had left him a cel­lar- full of old Bur­gundy. Over the next two years I drank nearly ev­ery bot­tle. The irony is that now, work­ing in the wine trade, I can­not af­ford to drink Bur­gundy any more!”

Re­turn­ing to his na­tive Clon­mel, Gub­bins opened on­line re­tailer and wine ware­house Red Nose. “As the econ­omy wors­ened, the value was all from the south of France, then Spain, Por­tu­gal and Italy,” he says. “Although we still im­port Bordeaux, the Mediter­ranean is a big part of what we do. We tend to work with small fam­ily places, and of­ten im­port our wines with on­line spe­cial­ist Cu­ri­ous Wines [ cu­ri­ouswine. ie].”

This year Mar­tin’s Off- Li­cence in Fairview cel­e­brates 40 years in busi­ness. Founded by the late Tom Mar­tin, it is now run by the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion, broth­ers Damian and De­clan. As part of the an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions, they launched a se­ries of Por­trait Project beers, fea­tur­ing pic­tures of his favourite places around Ire­land. Known as one of the best places to buy craft beer, Mar­tin’s also stock a wide and eclec­tic range of wines; reg­u­lar read­ers will know that they fre­quently fea­ture as stock­ists in this col­umn. Last year they won the pres­ti­gious Best Off Li­cence in Dublin 2018.

De­clan has been work­ing here for 20 years, but re­ally “since I was a baby. I did a lot of trav­el­ling and when I re­turned it was great to have the fam­ily shop wait­ing for me. The busi­ness has changed com­pletely – the range of spir­its, beers and wines avail­able to the con­sumer is in­cred­i­ble – if any­thing, too big at times”.

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