Karwig Wines in Cork

Karwig Wines Ltd do business in a peaceful rural setting near the satellite town of Carrigaline. Amazingly, they have some 800 wines on offer. Founder Joe Karwig says he tends to the Old World Wines himself: France, especially Italy, and Germany of course. “But I’m quite happy to drink some of the New World wines, such as the Pinot Noirs from New Zealand.”

We asked Joe if there is any new producer country on the horizon. “Well the Eastern European countries are old producers but suffered under Communist rules. That was bad for them. But new companies from the west are investing there, quite a lot of money is going in and a resurgence is expected.”

Joe himself had been working in the UK with a Germany exporting company in the UK and came over to Ireland in the mid seventies, doing his bit for the same company. At the end of 1978, he started out on his own working out of a Cork bonded warehouse on the City Docks where he was handicapped by restricted opening times, especially at weekends.

So he, and his wife Betty, took the gamble. It might not have been the best of times for a new business but Joe stuck with it and now his stock is spread over three warehouses, one in the city and another in North Cork plus the Carrigaline base, catering for restaurants, hotels, pubs, corporate companies and private customers. He has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Joe is a Riesling fanatic: “It is the best white wine. I like the wines from the Nahe River where my favourite winemaker is Dönnhoff. Carl Ehrhard also makes excellent wines. We have a good selection here and indeed probably have the biggest selection of German wines in Ireland and we also have some from Austria which I also like.”

Karwig carry Rieslings from Germany, France, New Zealand and Australia. By the way, if you want to get to know German wines, here are three from Karwig that will provide you with an important first step: Burgerspital Wurzburg 2008 Silvaner Trocken (Franken region); Carl Ehrhard Rudesheimer, Berg Rottland, Riesling, Spätlese Trocken 2008 (Rheingau); Erbeldinger WeiSer Burgunder Spätlese, Trocken, Bechtheimer Hasensprung 2007 (Rheinhessen).

We asked Joe and marketing manager Maurice O’Mahony if rivals were emerging to Champagne’s position as the queen of sparkling wine. “People are that bit more price conscious at present but there are also fashions. Nowadays, quite a lot of Prosecco is sold – you couldn’t sell it ten years ago. It isn’t just about price. Some people do prefer to drink Prosecco as it has less acidity than champagne and has a richer taste.”
Maurice, who keeps Karwig in focus on his blog,on Twitter and via Facebook, told me that they will deliver anywhere in Ireland. “We do the local deliveries ourselves but use a courier for the rest of the country. We will deliver in the bigger cities in 24 hours but it could take twice that in the more rural places.”

Full details of the impressive Karwig operation are available on their website http://www.karwigwines.ie/ where you may also sign up to the blog and follow Maurice on Twitter and through their Facebook Fan Page.

Best of all, if you are in the area, call in and sample the relaxed friendly approach of this company. Don't be shy if you know nothing about wine. They’ll help you out and won't blind you with the science.

Maurice: “Every day, we open several bottles for customers to try out. We do our best to have a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere in our shop. We cater for the serious wine connoisseur, the casual wine drinker and everyone in between. We love talking about wine and we pride ourselves on our casual sales approach. We want your visit to be relaxed and enjoyable. And you get to go home with some lovely wine too! “

For more, here is the link to the related article that John Wilson of the Irish Times did on Wurzberg

Photos (from the top): Champagne corner, Maurice O'Mahony (left) and Joe Karwig, The Tasting Room and (bottom) soem of the 800 (old and new world) wines.

Check out my review of Karwig Wines - I am cork - on Qype