Domaine La Sarabande was established so that we could fulfill our dream of making serious long living robust wines. The vineyards have been carefully selected to establish a balanced mix of schist soils, good drainage, good aspect and a mix of young and very old vines. The vineyards are organic which means that no chemical herbicides or fungicides are used. Only organic fertiliser is used to replenish the soils. The winemaking is a combination of old and new world techniques. This means that the wines are hand harvested, naturally fermented and are bottled unfiltered and unfined. The strong emphisis is to bottle wines that express the soils and climate of the vineyard while being technically correct and are free of wine faults and spoilage.
Isla and I met in New Zealand in 2003. I had been floundering about in the Sydney wine scene for about ten years and I had just finished my degree in winemaking at Charles sturt University in Wagga Wagga, Australia. I followed a classmate to NZ and did a harvest as assistant winemaker at Isabel estate in Marlborough. My Irish wife, Isla, was backpacking around Australasia at the time and was employed in the vineyards just before harvest. We ended up staying in New Zealand until 2008. Isla trained under Jeremy Hyland, possibly the best regarded viticulturist in NZ, at Kim Crawford wines and later at Astrolabe wines. I worked as Red winemaker at Whitehaven wines. I was in charge of the Pinot Noir project and had a very successful and fulfilling time there.
However Isla and I both had ambition to start our own wine business and were becoming restless to explore other parts of the world. We decided to try our luck in Europe, where I had worked previously as a flying winemaker in the early 00’s. We were very much interested in finding some unique terroir and old vineyards so that we could produce some old world wines with a modern Oz twang. We landed in the France in 2009 and became the first Irish/Australian vignerons in the Languedoc.
We both love our time in the vineyards. It is the reason that we work for ourselves in the south of France. It is such a beautiful environment to work in and the satisfaction of seeing the results of the hard work we put into the vines is second to none. We have rejuvenated several vineyards in the last three years. It is amazing to see how the vines and the earth react when they are treated organically and by hand. Our desire is to increase our land holdings so that we can breathe life back into the old vines of the Languedoc.