Think of Liam and Sinead Cabot as the gamekeepers turned poachers.
You might known them as one of the handful of truly individualistic wine merchants in Ireland. But, you also need to know them as winemakers, operating out of Slovenia, working together to fashion a wine they call Roka, made using blaufrankisch grapes, grown on a half-hectare vineyard that faces east, in a place caled Kog, in the Stajerska region.
Sounds unlikely? Actually, it sounds crazy. But then Mr and Mrs Cabot don’t do things the way others think you have to do them. They have based their brilliant wine company exactly where everyone else would tell you not to do so: they are situate in Westport, County Mayo. They find superb wines in places like Greece, and they find guys using grapes like white tempranillo in the Rioja Alta, and they get smitten by what they find in Slovenia, and decide to make some of their own wine there.
They seem, in other words, to be people who act on impulse, were it not for the fact that the Cabot list is packed with 24-carat winemakers, like Bernard Baudry from Chinon and Gianni Menotti from Friuli and Roland Velich from Burgenland, and also with terrific wines sourced from co-operatives. You have to do a lot of legwork to find these guys and their wines, and to sustain a wine company in a marketplace as tough as Ireland. But the Cabots have been around for a good while now, first coming to our attention when they opened and ran a fine shop in the IFSC in Dublin. Back then we were praising the fact that their shop “defined a new optimum for Dublin” and we had already fallen in love with a selection of wines “that have both a voice and a soul”.
Today, nothing has changed. Okay, so the gamekeepers are now also poachers, and they are based in Westport, and Kog. But the Cabots' search for wines with a soul is an endless one, one that demands resilience and humour. Their work has both qualities, in spades.