In our monthly column featuring the favourite products of NOffLA staff members across the country, Gareth Connolly, of Baggot Street Wines, Baggot Street, Dublin 4, writes about his favourite drinks and how being an independent operator makes a real difference...
Jun 15 2012
Gareth Connolly, Baggot Street Wines
Almost on a daily basis we get lots of lost-looking customers coming into our little store, Baggot Street Wines, 17 Upper Baggot Street on Dublin’s south side, looking for a recommendation. Many have been shopping here for years, right from the days of Farm Produce in the 80s and 90s, to Oddbins in the late 90s up to 2011 and now with us, for the last 11 months.
We're all former Oddbins staff and when Oddbins left Ireland, I begged, borrowed and stole from any bank that would listen to me and gathered together enough to buy the place out and save six jobs and set up as a 100% independent locally owned Irish wine shop.
What sets us apart from all the multiples is our continual presence on the shop floor and our ability to give an honest recommendation to our customers. While the supermarkets focus purely on price and leave quality in favour of the rush to the bottom on promotions, we can provide a well-priced product that we feel is great value for money.
I recently started stocking a fantastic Rioja from Pujanza. I heard about this on Twitter about 12 months ago as it was the house wine in El Bulli Restaurant San Sebastian, a world famous three Michelin stars establishment. Voted the top restaurant in the world over and over again I was intrigued to try the wine that critics have hailed the “best in Spain”. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. This is a truly great wine of huge complexity, with a monster finish of ripe wild strawberries and raspberries intermingled with lovely toasty vanilla induced oak. At €22.49 it's one of all the staff's favourites here and is an absolute winner with any meaty dish, especially pork tapas.
We've always aimed to be one of Dublin's top Irish whiskey specialists and recently we launched Knappogue Castle 12-year-old as our whiskey of the month. It's owned by Castle Brands but made by the geniuses at Midleton. From the makers of Redbreast, Midleton and Greenspot you'd expect nothing else than a complex, smooth yet rich style of whiskey. This doesn't let you down. Pure quality from nose to finish and completely exclusive to independents and specialists. Both tourists and locals love buying this for its exclusivity and quality. A bargain at €43.99.
When it comes to craft beers, Baggot Street Wines loves to promote all things worldwide but especially our homegrown talented Irish beer makers. At the top of our list of over 235 craft beers is one of our current favourites, 8 Degrees Brewing from Ballyhoura, Co Cork. Set up by an Aussie and a Kiwi and their two Irish wives, 8 Degrees has been going for just under two years and has just launched its fourth beer. From the Knockmealdown Porter to the Howling Gale Pale Ale, from the Sunburnt Irish Red to their limited release Bohemian Pilsner, the company produces some of Ireland's, if not the world's best beers. Cameron Wallace (owner and brewer) has been up with us twice doing customer tastings and this helps promote the products brilliantly. They have now become some of our top selling and favourite brews!
What makes us as independents different and gives us an advantage over the multiples is our presence on the shop floor, our passion for the product and ability to use that passion to sell directly to the customer. This city has many, many great drink stores and as long we can differentiate ourselves from the multiples through great products, better stores and passionate people, I feel our future is safe.