A love story as old as time itself … a young woman goes to France for the summer, meets a guy, falls in love and follows him to France. Kind of. I’m originally from Dublin in Ireland and after the drudgery of school and the Leaving Certificate exam, (Ireland’s Baccalauréat equivalent), I was keen for a summer of freedom and adventure. With the admirable goal of perfecting my French, I had found a job as an au pair and so it was that I found myself, aged 18, working for a local family in the south of France.
It’s funny how the most fleeting of chance meetings can change the trajectory of your life. Late one night that August, I got chatting to a handsome French man, who was leaning against the wall of the local nightclub. A couple of years older than I, he appeared very suave and piqued my interest with his cool, relaxed demeanour. I agreed to a date which, in true French style, was a considerably grown-up affair. Laurent, as a vigneron and foodie, took me to a local seafood restaurant and that was it, I was hooked. Little did I know that Laurent was the son of Henri Miquel, renowned wine maker and part of a long-standing wine making family in St Chinian for over 200 years.
One year later, Laurent felt the calling of the vine and left his engineering job with Nissan in Newcastle (UK) and returned to the family estate at Cazal-Viel, where he began making his owne wines. I decided the time had come for me to pack my bags and join him and so began our wine life together, in Cessenon-sur-Orb in the region of St Chinian. We now have 2 children, Sean (10) and Alaina (6) – thus firmly sowing the Irish roots for future generations - and in 2009, we also put down our own vine roots, when we bought Château Auzines, high in the hills of Corbières. Laurent, with his inimitable pioneering spirit, broke the mould by planting Albariño vines for the first time at Auzines, like his father Henri did before him with Syrah in St Chinian.
Life at a French wine estate proved to be a bit of a culture shock, compared to my suburban upbringing in Dublin. My romantic ideal of moving to France to make wine with Laurent hadn’t grasped the legacy of a 200+ year-old business. I had to learn quickly how to balance the demands of tradition with the vision Laurent and I had to take the family wines to the next level, a mission we are still fulfilling!
Some Irish-inspired Wines!
Solas range - named for the Gaelic word for "light" and the old french word meaning 'good times'
Kinsale, Faugères - The name “Kinsale” reflects the slate soils of the vineyards in Faugères, similar to the slate found on all the houses in the southern Irish town of Kinsale in West Cork.