There is a giddiness abroad in The Swashbuachaill household, a nervous tension the like of which only prevails before the rare Christmas when I’ve been, by and large, a good and very deserving boy throughout much of the preceding year. (Or at the very least, intended to be.)
But we’re a long way off Christmas – The Swashbuachaill’s anticipatory fervour comes on foot of his eagerly awaited first delivery of wine from Red Red Wine, an Irish company owned by Tom and Elena O’Loughlin who are based in the South of France and sell online directly to private customers at wholesale prices, averaging about five deliveries nationwide per annum.
Now, when The Swashbuachaill first showed signs of developing what has turned into a most pronounced lip for the vino, choice on The Oul’ Sod was extremely limited and almost as hard to procure. Things have improved a thousand-fold, even down to doorstep delivery but what has The Swashbuachaill all of a lather is Red Red Wine’s ability to source wines unavailable in Ireland.
In particular, wines from the prestigious AOCs of the Haut Languedoc, the very same vinos exclusively used to fuel The Swashbuachaill’s nuptials some years back without remotely breaking the bank (in other words, The Swashbuachaill’s father-in-law).
It may seem silly to say of the world’s largest wine-producing region but Languedoc-Roussillon can still be relatively uncharted territory for many wine drinkers around the world, certainly in comparison to other more renowned regions in France.
I promise you, once you get to sample a few of the finer wines from the region, you’ll keep returning. And who knows, some day, like Tom and Elena, you might even get to set up shop there. I’ll be back with some tasting notes on those wines in a few weeks. Meanwhile, see below for a sneak peek at what life is like for Elena, Tom and family and further info on ordering. Chin-Chin!
For those wishing to know a little bit more about the wine and how deeply discomfiting it is to be forced to live in the sunny South of France, here’s Elena talking about …
… how they wound up in France
Tom is from Rathangan, Co. Kildare and I am from Slane, Co. Meath. Not long after we got married, we bought a wreck of a house in the St Chinian AOC (near Beziers) in 1999. We went out in the winter months to turn it into a little holiday house in the sun. Then our eldest started school and it looked like the work would never be finished, so in 2006, we decided to go for a year. We thought it was an ideal opportunity to put our daughter (age 5) into a French school and see how she got on with the language. We ended up staying here and now our 3 kids are all bilingual.
… how the interest in wine began
Tom’s family are dairy farmers who were also involved in tillage so farming is in his DNA. He got very interested in the local vineyards and production methods etc. Eventually about 2 years ago, we found a vineyard we were interested in buying. It was in the Terasses du Larzac, near Clermont l’Herault and alot closer to Montpellier. We started Red Red Wine to create a direct market to people in Ireland for this particular area, so that when we started producing our own, we’d have some clients.
The wine has proved really popular but unfortunately the vineyard fell through. It had been inherited by 3 elderly sisters but when it came down to it, they couldn’t all agree to sell it. Instead, we moved to Montpellier at Halloween, but are continuing to grow and expand the wine business. This year, we hope to add some Blanquette de Limoux, la premiere boule du monde, developed in Limoux by the monks in 1531. Dom Perignon came to investigate the discovery many years later. We also plan to add some more white wines, possibly Picpoul.
… the impossible hardships they have to contend with on a daily basis
Meanwhile, Montpellier is a glamorous, vibrant, rapidly growing student city with excellent transport, sports facilities and universities and of course, great weather. Montpellier has a Top 14 rugby team (Leinster were over here in November for a draw match in Heineken Cup) and an Irish scene based around Fitzpatrick’s pub in the historic city centre. The kids (now 11, 9 and 7) love it too…
… the wine and how to order it
I suppose that the main thing is that this wine wins lots of awards and doesn’t usually leave France. It is only available in Ireland through us. We sell to private individuals at wholesale prices.
Minimum order is 12 bottles which is a legal requirement of our wholesale license, but if somebody wants to organise a group order of family, friends, colleagues to one address, that works fine too, so long as the total order is 12 bottles or more.
Our next Free Delivery dates are 11 – 17 April. We do 4/5 Free Delivery trips a year, which is when most people buy the wine, but there is also a courier service available throughout the year.
These are just some of the most recent awards:
Best Seller: Closade St Jullien 2009 (Rouge) (Case x 6) @ € 65
Gold Medal from prestigious Guide Gilbert et Gaillard 2013.
Best Value: St Jacques Rouge 2009 ((Case x 6) @ € 53
Silver Medal Concours Macon, 2010
We also have St Jacques Rosé and St Jacques Blanc. All 3 regularly win awards. The 2010 and 2008 rosé are mentioned in Guide Hachette.
Barrel Aged: Jaques Arnal 2009 (Case x 6) @ € 77
Silver Medal, Concours Macon, 2010, Commended, Decanter 2010, Silver Medal, Concours Generale Agricole, 2011