From Alsace to Carcassonne, Pierre and Barbara brought with them an experience of white wines, a desire to build their own project and the desire to make wines in their own image. In 2015, they settled in the Minervois and embarked on their adventure, that of the vines, the terroir and the wine.
Pierre and Barbara worked for 20 years in Alsace. Pierre was an oenologist in a cooperative winery, Barbara was a territorial civil servant. The desire to set up their own business and build their own project has come a long way: "we had precise specifications," says Pierre. "Taking over an organic farming estate was already the basis. As we loved syrah and grenache, we wanted to be between Lyon and Carcassonne. And we didn't want to be too isolated". This will be the Sibille estate, in Laure-Minervois, near Carcassonne. Pierre and Barbara drop off their suitcases during the winter of 2015. It's the beginning of their life as winemakers.
The Sibille estate is located on sandstone terroirs. The climate alternates between oceanic and Mediterranean influences, which allows a wide variety of grape varieties to express themselves: viognier, chardonnay, roussanne, syrah, grenache, carignan, marselan, merlot ...". Our vines grow on hillsides. The terroir brings an acidic backbone to the wines we love," explains Pierre. In these regions where the degrees easily rise to 14%, the sandstone terroirs allow the wines to keep freshness and lightness.
The wines of Domaine de Sibille express the sandstone soil that makes the specificity of the estate © photo: Domaine Sibille
For Pierre and Barbara, the will is to produce wines that resemble their estate. To do this, take out the barrel and the wood. "We have ripe and aromatic grape varieties that don't need to go into barrels," the oenologist says. For red wines, a long vatting period allows the aromas and tannins to be gently extracted. As for the white wines, they are matured on lees to promote fatness and roundness. Each stage of the elaboration is thought out to produce the wine of their desires. "We carry out a pre-fermentation maceration on the whites to promote extraction, fruit and roundness," explains Pierre. Specificity of the Sibille estate: in a predominantly red region, 40% of the production is white. "We come from Alsace where we had gained experience with white wines. We didn't want to lose our identity, and we decided to continue developing white wines," says the Alsatian oenologist.
Organic farming is also a philosophy that allows to produce healthy grapes while protecting health and the environment © photo: Domaine Sibille
"I have worked for 20 years in conventional agriculture and the orientation towards Organic Agriculture is a personal choice. We wanted to produce healthy wines with a minimum of inputs," says Pierre. In addition to this, there are economic motivations that carry weight: "The markets are looking for a lot of organic wines. In the conventional way, we would have already closed down," adds the winemaker. In Organic Agriculture, vine treatments are preventive and exclude the use of penetrating chemical products. Even years with high disease pressure, such as 2018, do not discourage the couple from pursuing organic farming. "I have the impression that we take fewer risks with organic, as we work a lot on prevention. In any case, we had an extraordinary harvest and very healthy grapes in 2018, which was a complicated year," explains Pierre.
A fine 2019 vintage at the Sibille estate
The good mood of the 2019 harvest, at the Sibille estate © photo: domaine Sibille
2019 is a year marked by drought and lack of water. The rains that arrived in the middle of the harvest allowed the last berries to grow. "The pH is low and the acidities are very well balanced," says Pierre. The 2019 vintage is therefore beautiful, and, as a consequence of the heat wave, "these will be wines that will need to wait a little longer than the 2018 vintage," explains the winemaker.