Ireland’s first sparkling wine: what does it taste like?

Fruit grower David Llewellyn was often asked about making this wine. So he did

David Llewellyn with his sparkling wine. He planted his first vine in 1999, on a smallholding in Lusk, Co Dublin

David Llewellyn with his sparkling wine. He planted his first vine in 1999, on a smallholding in Lusk, Co Dublin

 

The fruit grower and drinks producer David Llewellyn has made Ireland’s first sparkling wine, using the traditional bottle-fermented method. It is vibrant, full of fruit and quite delicious.

“My first vintage was 2018,” says Llewellyn. “It was one of these things – I was always being asked, ‘Why don’t you make a sparkling wine, since it is doing so well in England?’ I don’t have white grapes, so I made a test blanc de noirs. It turned out extremely well, better than I expected. I have made a lot more this year. It is not officially for sale yet; I still have to have to design a label.”

Having studied horticulture at University College Dublin and in Germany (where he first came across vineyards), Llewellyn planted his first vine in 1999, on his smallholding in Lusk, Co Dublin. “Before that I had experimented in my parents’ garden, with 20-30 different varieties, back in 1989. Most were unsuccessful. The location, in the midlands, was very frosty, totally unsuitable for growing vines.”

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He grows a wide variety of fruit in Lusk. “My main crops are apples, pears and vines,” he says. “I sell three or four main varieties of apple plus a dozen or more varieties over the season. I also grow cherries to sell at the market.”

Under cover he grows kiwi, peach, apricot, quince and plums – mirabelles and greengages – all for home consumption; any excess is sold in markets. Llewellyn has a stall every week at the Dún Laoghaire, St Anne’s Park and Temple Bar markets.

His extensive range of products includes apple juice, pear juice, apple syrup, cider vinegar, balsamic cider vinegar, cider, perry, wine and mulled spiced apple juice – available by the glass in the market. As for the perry, he says, it is not really a tradition here. “Ireland doesn’t really have the climate for pears.” He has 40 varieties planted and is pleasantly surprised by how well they are doing. “These are specific perry pears – you wouldn’t eat them. Like cider apples, they are hard and astringent, totally different to an eating pear.”

The perry, however, is a delicious thirst-quenching drink.

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