Simon Tyrrell has two winemaking businesses in France. There is Les Deux Cols, an eight-hectare estate in the southern Rhone, in partnership with Charles Derain of Nomad Wines and Gerard Maguire of 64 Wine in Glasthule. The second, Atelier des Sources, buys in grapes. “It gives us the opportunity to explore interesting vineyards and regions that we come across,” says Tyrrell.
“From back when I worked in Paris, the Rhone was my speciality and the same with Charles, who spent four years training at the lycée in Tain l’Hermitage. We both had in-depth knowledge and [were] always very comfortable there. It is also relatively affordable in terms of buying vineyards and wines are reasonably priced too.”
“2020 has been very challenging; we farm organically, which requires more intervention; you have to be very vigilant in terms of weather patterns and the tools available don’t protect the vines for long. The crucial period is from bud break to veraison; if you are absent it can be catastrophic. In 2020 we relied on the goodwill and help of two local contacts, a winemaker friend and the landlord who owns our winery. Now retired, he had been working organically since 1972, so he has a deep knowledge.”
The team travelled over three times this year, once for pruning in February, once in June and lastly for the harvest. “In June we had two weeks to catch up on everything, the soil work, shoot thinning and training. We borrowed a second tractor to get the job done. We completely missed the summer rosé market, but then all of the restaurants were closed in Paris [their biggest market].” Instead, the team bottled everything in August so the tanks would be ready to receive the new harvest.
Tyrrell arrived in France on August 17th, Derain on the 25th and Maguire in early September. “In previous years people came out from Ireland to harvest; this year only two made it. We employed local harvesters, largely Moroccan, for the first time. They worked incredibly hard; I have huge respect for them. Once your wines are made, they need constant vigilance.”
“The other issue was getting over there and back; in June it was an adventure, via Paris and the TGV. If you go for two weeks you then have to quarantine for two weeks, which means an entire month. The other real problem is there have been no visits from importers – normally you would have a whole string – and there were no fairs, so it was difficult to show new wines and get new customers. Overall, owning a vineyard is fantastic and really rewarding but the logistical realities are brought into sharp focus if you don’t live on site. We are very happy with the 2020 vintage; the wines will be very good.”
Côte 128 Pech Sévignac 2019, viognier, Laurent Miquel, IGP Pays d’Oc
13.5 per cent, €15.30
An attractive, cool, refreshing style of viognier with elegant subtle peach fruits. This would go nicely with mild creamy curries and noodle dishes.
Stockist: Dunnes Stores, dunnesstores.com.
Oludeo, La Soñadora 2016, Yecla
14 per cent, €16.95
Made by Simon Tyrrell in Spain, this is a medium- to full-bodied red with refreshing notes alongside some ripe dark fruits and smooth, well-integrated tannins on the finish. Try it with beef ribs or a rib roast.
Stockists: Searsons, Monkstown, searsons.com; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; Barnhill Stores, Dalkey,barnhillstores.ie; Donnybrook Fair,donnybrookfair.ie; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock,blackrockcellar.com.
Atelier des Sources Cotes du Rhone Villages ‘La Traversée’, France
14.5 per cent, €16.95
Full-bodied, rich in smooth blackcurrant fruits with a little spice and a nice tannic kick on the finish. A warming, herb-infused southern French stew sounds perfect.
Stockists: Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock,blackrockcellar.com; Green Man Wines, D6, greenmanwines.ie; Clontarf Wines, D3,clontarfwines.ie; La Touche, Greystones,latouchewines4u.ie; Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie; Fallon & Byrne, D2,fallonandbyrne.com; Deveney’s, D14, deveneys.ie; Searsons, Monkstown, searsons.com; Siyps.com, siyps.com; Avoca, Powerscourt, Ballsbridge and Rathcoole, avoca.com.
Trois Terroirs 2019, Les Deux Cols, Cotes du Rhone
14.5 per cent, €25.95
Elegant, with floral aromas, medium to full-bodied plum fruits, an attractive savoury note and concentrated tannins on the finish. This would sit nicely with grilled duck breast or hard cheeses.
Stockists: Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Green Man Wines, D6, greenmanwines.ie; 64 Wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Clontarf Wines, D3,clontarfwines.ie; La Touche, Greystones, latouchewines4u.ie; Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie; Fallon & Byrne, Dublin 2, fallonandbyrne.com; Deveney’s, D14, deveneys.ie; Searsons, Monkstown, searsons.com; Siyps.com, siyps.com; Neighbourhood Wine, D4, neighbourhoodwine.ie.