Wine Editor Julie Dupouy On Ireland's Important Importers - The Gloss Magazine

Wine Editor Julie Dupouy On Ireland’s Important Importers

Who chooses the bottles on our tables, asks Julie Dupouy…

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Ireland, a wine country? Maybe not, in terms of viticulture, but from the point of view of the consumer, we have incredible choice in quality wine. The wonderful array we see on the shelves of our local wine shops and at our favourite restaurants are there thanks to the passion and commitment of a small community of wine importers. Despite multiple challenges to the industry over the past decade, these guys, many of them “imports” themselves, have remained focused on importing excellent quality wines at a good price point.

ENRICO FANTASIA, the maestro behind legendary wine company Grapecircus, is well-known throughout the wine community in Ireland. Originally from Venice, Enrico was a musician with the Teatro la Fenice’s orchestra. On what was to be a short career break, working weekends in a wine bar, he laid the foundations for his new career. In 2003, Seamus Sheridan, of Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, sought Enrico’s help to open a restaurant in Galway. The restaurant never opened, but a wine shop and import company called Grapecircus was born. Enrico’s wines are mostly organic or biodynamic, and all of them are made by producers he likes. In his portfolio, you’ll find everything from the great Barolo producers in Italy’s north to the less well-known gems from the south, alongside wines from some well-chosen producers throughout Europe.

ALBERT BAGINSKY arrived from Poland in 2006, starting out as a sommelier at Town Bar & Grill on Kildare Street, then moving to L’Écrivain. At FX Buckley he was quickly promoted to wine director for the entire group. In 2019, his passion for fine wines well developed, he decided to fully dedicate his time to Solera Wine Company, a passion project he started in 2014. Albert imports wine from many classic regions. The wine that helped launch his company is Roda from Rioja.

JEREMY DELANNOY, founder of SIYPS (Sommelier In Your Pocket), was previously a customs officer in France. Jeremy’s wine passion blossomed when he moved to Paris and started hanging out with other wine lovers. In 2013, after meeting his Irish wife-to-be in a Paris wine bar, he decided to study viticulture, oenology and business. In 2016, shortly after arriving in Dublin, he met Charles Derain, with whom he founded SIYPS, a wine import and online sales business that specialises in bespoke and rare wine from France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. “I moved for love,” he says, “ but I am now in love with Ireland too. I cannot imagine myself moving back to France.”

The next time you buy a wine, imagine the journey this bottle has taken to reach your table.

BALÁZS RAKAMAZI moved to Dublin from Budapest in 2014 to study Sociology and Economics at Trinity College. Balázs first passion was cooking – he has a diploma in culinary arts from the École Ducasse in Paris. During lockdown, he joined 64 Wines as a chef and, under the mentorship of 64 Wines owner Gerard Maguire, wine became a second passion. In 2022, he founded Vinifinesse with his partner Judit, to challenge and redefine the fine wine map of Europe. With an emphasis on Hungary, Balázs imports some truly underrated wines.

BEN AND BARBARA MASON met while on a wine trip to the Douro Valley. A few months later they married and started a business together. Originally a tax specialist, Barbara started her Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) studies as a hobby during her maternity leave and went on to graduate as a Master of Wine in 2016. Ben, a WSET diploma graduate, started his wine career early, co-owning a wine shop in Wicklow for 15 years before deciding to develop his own wine import business. Wine Mason imports new wave wines from Portugal, South Africa and Germany. It is exciting to see that amazing quality wines are now reaching our shores thanks to Ben and Barbara’s shared passion.

So the next time you buy a wine, imagine the journey this bottle has taken to reach your table. From the land it came from, to the importer who brought it into the country, to the retailer who decided to put it on their shelves, you are uncorking a rich and colourful story. @julie_dupouy

Rioja Reserva, Roda, Spain, €48;

Redoma Branco, Niepoort, Douro, Portugal, €30; www.

Champagne Grand Cru, Brut Tradition, Egly Ouriet, France, €105;

Kadarka, Heimann & Fiai Szekszard, Hungary, €27.50;

Viognier, Age of Grace, Lismore, Cape South Coast, South Africa, €39;

Sacrisassi Rosso, Le Due Terre, Friuli Colli Orientali, Italy, €52;


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