This year is the 5 year anniversary of the establishment of Domaine la Sarabande in Faugères. A lot has happened since we decided to come to Europe to set up our Domaine. After working in the wine industry in New Zealand, for many years, Isla and I decided that we wanted to work in Europe so we could make wine with ancient vines on exciting terroir. Being Australian I was naturally drawn to the Languedoc and the grape varieties that could make the rich full bodied wines that made me interested in wine initially.

So five years ago we first drove along the D909 and instantly fell in love with Faugères. Isla was heavily pregnant with our first boy, Rory, when we first saw the beautiful hills surrounding this stunning location. It  ticked all the boxes of being close to the mountains and the sea. The villages here are all small and beautiful and, as we have have found out, are great places to raise children. But the thing that clinched the deal was the terroir of this incredible appellation. The Faugeres appellation is an ancient wine growing region tucked between the Mediterranean and the Cevenne mountains deep in the Languedoc. The major influence on the wines of this appellation is the distinctive schist soils. All Faugeres vineyards sit on these ancient soils that were formed by the compression of clays and primitive marine deposits at very high temperatures. Strongly compressed and heated, then they are deformed and broken. In the many cracks, vines can bring their roots down deep to withstand severe droughts and to interact with nutrient rich soils. We farm organically and our emphasis is to bottle wines that express the soils and climate of the vineyard while being technically correct and free of wine faults and spoilage.

After initially renting 5.0Ha of vines we have now purchased just over 8.0Ha and are now producing about 28000 bottles of wine. This is a big jump from our initial years production of just 6000 bottles! We make four different blends of red wine and also a crisp fresh Rosé. We are celebrating this year with many events over summer including Fish’n’Chip nights and our infamous Sizzling Sarabande Sundays! Drop us an email or call if you would like to come along and try some of our wines.

This appellation produces some outstanding wines and, contrary to popular belief, these wines are sturdy and powerful so therefore can be enjoyed after several years cellaring. I like a lot of the wines produced in Faugères but I would like to highlight some other new Domaines, who like us have come to this region as they can see the unique potential that this appellation has to offer.

 Domaine des Trinités – 6 chemin de l’Aire : 34320 : Roquessels: Tél : 04.67.90.23.25 simon@trinites.com

Simon and Monica Coulshaw were our first contact in Faugères. They started just two years before we did and produce a great range of wines. Look out for their 2013 L’imaginaire Roussanne, a fantastic fruity little white and perfect for summer. Simon is very passionate about all his red wines but none more so than his biodynamic cuvee 42, a wine for real wine freaks. Rendezvous via appointment.

Domaine de Cébène – Route de Caussiniojouls, (D 154), 34600 Faugères (close to the ancient gare de Faugères) GPS : www.go.to.cebene.fr        + 33 (0) 6 74 96 42 67  bchevalier@wanadoo.fr   www.cebene.fr

Brigitte Chevallier is another relative new comer to Faugères. She has made quite a name for herself producing some stunning red wines. She has also just built herself a new Cave just outside the village of Faugères on the road to Caussiniojouls. She produces four reds including the ‘Felgaria’ a Mourvedre dominant cracker of a wine. (chosen as one of the 12 “Best of the South” vineyards by Andrew Jefford. I also love her ‘Belle Lurette’ which is predominately Carignan from very old vines in Faugères. Tasting and visit : 5 € / person

Opening hours : Saturdays, from 10 am to 1 pm, and anytime by appointment.  English, German and French spoken

 Domaine de L’ancienne Mercerie – 6 rue Egalité – 34480 AUTIGNAC Tél et Fax : + 33 (0)4 67 90 27 02 Email : ancienne.mercerie@free.fr

 Nathalie and François Caumette started their domaine in 2000 having come from a family of vignerons. They are some of the nicest people that we have met in the Faugères appellation and make stunning rich and powerful wines. My favourite wine is their Couture rouge. This highly acclaimed wine is packed full of juicy black fruits and is one of Faugères benchmark wines. Rendezvous by appointment.

Abbey Sylva Plana – 13, ancienne route nationale 34480 Laurens Phone : (33) (0) 4 67 93 43 55

A Faugères favourite with a very popular restaurant and our neighbours in Laurens! This estate is a collaboration between Cedric GUY and the BOUCHARD family. Like most producers here they farm organically and they often use horses to work their land. They produce an extensive range of wines that are all available from their restaurant but my favourite would have to be the ‘La Closeraie’ which is a lovely soft blend of Carignan, Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache. Open every day from Monday to FridayFrom 09:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 18:00.Weekends and public holidays by appointment.

 Domaine Cottebrune – Route de la Chauviere (D154), 34480 La Liquière Tél 0675874398

This young domaine was established by Pierre GAILLARD of Côte Rôtie fame. Pierrre recognised the potential of this appellation and has now established a domaine of 10Ha of some of the most stunning vineyards in Faugères. The day to day running of the estate is by our mate, Maxime, who would love to show you the range of wines. Look out for the ‘2011 Transhumance’ and the intensely concentrated ‘2011 Parole de Berger’. Rendezvous by appointment.