Food and Drink: Shipping news
It takes a lot of bottle to succeed as a wine merchant in Northern Ireland - but thanks to the indefatigable McAlindon family, DWS has done it
DWS's wines may be serious but the family presence generates fun and enthusiasm. Sticking out a mile from the dreary surrounds of the Lagan docks, its gaudily painted warehouse announces its presence to commuters driving into Belfast. Inside, atmosphere oozes from the pores of the whitewashed walls and ancient floor planks. There's a deceptively old-fashioned air about the extensive ground-floor premises. A breezy, pile-it-high informality blends with the cosy feel of a traditional wine cellar. Tempting tasting notes describe the contents of bottles stashed under arches, next to pillars and in barrels, and there's a little cove of wooden racks stuffed with vintage port.
DWS's story is one of gritty survival and gradual transformation from Fifties corner shop to thoroughly modern wine merchant. To drum up trade, the McAlindon brothers, Kevin, Denis and Ciaran, used to stick wine lists through the letterboxes of professors and lecturers at the university. Guinness, sherry, whisky, wine and brandy were all bottled by hand on the premises. Hold-ups, by IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries alike, were part of the way of life.
The modern business took off when DWS started contacting suppliers direct. First Johnnie Hugel in Alsace and Max Chapoutier in the Rhone took an interest, then Spain's Miguel Torres. "These were the pin-ups of the wine trade," says Kevin. New agencies followed: Marques de Cceres, Bernard Clement in the Loire, Robert Mondavi and Chile's Santa Rita. In the late 1970s, DWS took a gamble and bought the vast Corporation Square warehouse.
It proved the making of DWS. Using the spacious top floor fashioned from ship's timbers, the company has made wine appreciation one of its major strengths, with regular tastings and tutored dinners. The New World connection has been strengthened since Kevin's sons, Peter and Neal, came into the business. After working in Australia, Peter helped bring Brown Brothers, Xanadu, Chatsfield, Cullens and Green Point on board. Modern Spain is well represented, too, with the dazzling reds of Abadia Retuerta, Alion, Vega Sicilia and Pesquera all being featured.
New Zealander Jane Hunter's husband, Ernie, was a Belfast man, so the Hunters connection is strong. I'm particularly impressed by the considerable staying power of its 1997 Sauvignon Blanc, pounds 9.99, a Marlborough Sauvignon with assertive tropical and gooseberry flavours. From Australia, the 1997 Stonier's Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir, pounds 10.75, is a deliciously generous red with undertones of damson and loganberry jam flecked with a cool-climate mintiness, while Chatsfield's 1995 Mount Barker Shiraz, pounds 9.49, is a model of Rhone-like liquorice spice, cracked pepper and rich black-cherry fruitiness. I can't do justice here to the breadth of the DWS range, but give Corporation Square a try if you want to see where Irish eyes are smiling
Direct Wine Shipments: 01232 238700
White of the Week
1996 Albacora Verdejo-Chardonnay, pounds 5.49, Waitrose. From Spain's arid northern region of Rueda, this is a new-wave Spanish blend of the local Verdejo grape and Chardonnay, creating a full-bodied, full-flavoured smoky, almost charry dry white with the Chardonnay grape adding an appealing vanilla fudge-like character.
Red of the Week
1997 Diego Murillo Family Reserve Malbec, pounds 5.99, Safeway. This is a good example of what Argentina does so well: a red wine made from the Malbec grape (the grape of the ancient Black Wine of Cahors) which is smooth-textured, rich in blackberry fruit and just a hint of the tarry note which is the Malbec's hallmark.
Life & Style blogs
Bombsheller: The website that makes us all into top fashion designers
Husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's 'excuses' for turning down sex
The 10 Best Scotch Whiskies
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
The 10 Best kitchen knives
Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
- 1 Secret Cinema interview: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Iraq crisis: End 'very near' for Christianity after Isis takeover, says Bishop
£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...