Great wine made by farmers – how Ivor keeps it real in Ranelagh

For Ivor Geraghty, there’s always a choice when it comes to food and drink.

‘There’s proper bread, which is very different from the white sliced pan churned out of a factory,’ he says. ‘Or if you want really good chicken or beef, you go to a butcher.’

And, as you might expect from the owner of The Wine Buff in Ranelagh, there’s always the option of buying one type of wine – or another.

Ivor Geraghty and a bottle of Pelan Bellevue

Ivor Geraghty and a bottle of Pelan Bellevue

‘Supermarket wine is drinkable and pleasant,’ he says. ‘But it’s a mass produced product, churned out on a conveyor belt. It’s consistent but… it’s boring.’   His store offers an alternative – real wine made by small scale producers.

‘We import direct from small family vineyards,’ says Ivor. ’Our producers are farmers, working in barns that their grandfathers built. You won’t find this wine in a supermarket, they don’t produce enough for them.’

Ivor, well-known for various writing, publishing and radio presenting roles over the years, opened the Ranelagh Wine Buff store in September 2011 in a former maternity wear store on The Triangle.

‘I was a civil servant for many years and I had the option of early retirement I always loved wine and was looking for something else to do. And then I discovered The Wine Buff, and I thought I would give it a go,’ Ivor recalls.

The Wine Buff concept was created back in 2000 by Irishman Paddy O’Flynn, who is based in St Emillion in France, he saw the business opportunity in bringing wines from small vineyards into Ireland. The original Wine Buff store is still located in the front room of a Georgian house in Limerick and now there are 11 other stores with the same name operating on a franchise basis across Ireland.

‘Together we are just the right size to buy up a good chunk of the output of carefully selected small producers,’ says Ivor.

IMG_20140304_101455In the same way, people realise that 30 day aged steak bought in a butchers is a superior product to other beef, Ivor explains how small producers create better wine.

‘Maceration, where grape skins sit in their juice, is really important. When you buy supermarket wine they aren’t going to be able to do that for any real length of time.

The producers of the wine he sells have a different approach. ‘The Spanish wines from Le Mancha or Navarra for example, Some wines involve a maceration process that takes as long as 30 days. It means you get wines with real depth, real colour.’

But surely this extra quality must come at a high price? ‘Our wines start at €9.99 but most we sell are between €12 and €16 a bottle,’ says Ivor. ‘It’s mainly Old World wine but we also do some nice South African, New Zealand wines and Chilean bottles. Even the Malbec that we do is closer to that produced back in the 1950s.’

As well as the wine, Ivor also sells a small selection of other ‘real’ products. There’s Nick Seymour’s coffee, famous in Ranelagh and beyond, and a popular selection of gourmet chocolate from ChocoMe and Lough Derg in Nenagh.

Born and bred in nearby Rathmines, where he still lives, Ivor, remains a big fan of the area. ‘It’s an eclectic place with certain bohemian element to it, affluent people, students and young professionals.’

Ivor has been pleasantly surprised by the knowledge of wine possessed by his younger clientele. ‘Maybe they picked it up from their parents. What is interesting is that they start to ask about fine quality port and sherry. Now I drank them as well when I was young – but that was because I was stealing from the drinks cabinet which is not the same thing.’ he laughs.

Ranelagh  is not Ivor’s only market. ‘The fact that we are providing something other people aren’t, means my catchment area is a lot wider that most. People come into me from Wicklow, Kildare and Meath.

‘We are lucky enough to have a good reputation. We do hold wine tasting evenings several times a month but mostly we get new customers through word of mouth.’

IMG_20140304_101413But what is Ivor’s star wine?  ‘That would have to be the Pelan Bellevue from Bordeaux, ‘ he says, explaining its winemaket was one of the original suppliers to the Wine Buff when it started back in 2000.

‘The guy who produces it is called Regis Moro. He was from a winemaking family but he didn’t inherit the farm. He worked as a painter and decorator and he got very sick from lead poisoning. When he got better, he decided to do what he really wanted to do and that was to make wine.

‘He’s obsessive about it. He’s the kind of person who goes out and cuts the bad grapes of his vines and lets them fall to the ground and rot into the soil.’

‘You couldn’t get a cleaner wine than his. It’s a lovely wine, made completely without chemicals which means it’s less likely to give you a hangover.

‘I sell more of it, than other bottles by a factor of three to one. And many people, thank God, like to buy it by the case.’

Other favourites include Vacqueyras which is ‘better value than most Châteauneuf-du-Papes’ says Ivor and also wines from Puglia from the heel of Italy. ‘They are all about big sun and big fruit.

‘They don’t call what they do organic. But it is. It’s just the way they do things down there. The wine is great, I call it central heating for adults, ‘ Ivor laughs again.

The campaign for real wine is in good hands.

The Wine Buff

51 Cullenswood Road,

The Triangle

Wine Buff website

Also on Twitter at Ivor@ Wine Buff D6

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