Reading Time: 4 minutes
It’s avant-garde wines with an artisan approach at Tasmania’s Domaine Simha
Tasmania, the island state of breathtaking landscapes, unique wilderness and exquisite produce is also home to Domaine Simha, where artisanal fine wines are crafted based on ancient knowledge and intuition.
Founded by husband and wife duo, Nav Singh and Louise Radman, Domaine Simha has transformed the fine wine landscape and fostered a new outlook on what Tasmania has to offer. Just a few years after their first vintage, the exceptional wines of Domaine Simha are highly sought by collectors, sommeliers and connoisseurs across Australasia.
Speaking to Indian Link, Nav Singh says that at Domaine Simha, the philosophy of wine making centres on terroir (how a particular region’s climate, soils and terrain affect the taste of the wine). The wines are shaped ‘au naturel’ to reflect epic single vineyards. Living wines are produced here relying on ancient wisdom as much as science.
“Our wine comes straight from the earth,” says Singh. “We strive for subtlety and detail that can only be achieved naturally in very few places. We pare things back to reveal the purest essence of terroir and the character of the season.”
At Domaine Simha, their devotion to quality is evident in every stage from the vine to the glass. Crafted by hand in micro batches, just 2-3 barrels of each wine are made. An avant-garde approach embraces natural methods; harvesting by lunar cycle on fruit and flower days, whole bunch wild fermentation with traditional foot pigeage, maturation in custom large format oak barrels and clay amphorae, basket pressing, and bottling unfined and unfiltered wines with perfect natural balance.
According to Singh, Tasmania is the ultimate fine wine terroir!
“Tasmania is Australia’s final frontier and the natural advantages we have are unparalleled. Making wine here is like standing on the brink of a new world where everything is possible,” he says.
Born and bought up in Delhi, Nav Singh moved to Australia to pursue higher education in 1996. While completing studies in economics, Singh found he had a palate for different flavours and developed an interest in wine. A stint working at Sydney’s Park Hyatt fuelled his passion and he decided to undergo formal winemaking training at Adelaide University.
Mastering his craft, Singh honed his skills at some of the world’s most prestigious wine estates, including Domaine de L’Arlot in Burgundy and Chateau Le Pin in Bordeaux, France as well as working in Australia with Chandon and Mountadam and heading up operations in Margaret River and Clare Valley.
In 2012, Singh along with his wife Louise Radman (who has a host of impressive wine credentials of her own), relocated to Tasmania to establish Domaine Simha.
A very unique and interesting name, Domaine Simha pays homage to Nav’s rich Indian heritage. The name Singh originates from the Sanskrit word Simha, which means lion. The logo features the India Gate flanked by two lions, and many of the wines take their names from historic royal titles like Rani, Rana and Raja.
Some of the collections under the Domaine label include Amphorae and Sanskrit. Making wine in the traditional amphora is an age-old method dating back thousands of years. Crafted in white clay vessels, Domaine Simha Amphorae wines are energetic with expressive character. The clay allows the wine to breathe and evolve, while circulation of natural convection currents energises the wine and maintains a stable temperature. The beautifully patterned, golden Amphorae labels reference the exquisite architectural beauty of jali screens found throughout India.
The Sanskrit range is a reflection of the poetic language of love and beauty; the wines shine a light on lesser known grape varieties and styles such as gamay and cabernet franc. The Sanskrit pinot gris and schonburger are skin fermented white wines. Essentially, this involves making an oxidative-style wine matured by leaving on the grape skins as you would normally do for red wines. The result is a textured, ‘orange’ style of wine with characterful ginger spice and earthy flavours.
Domaine Simha wines can be found online and in specialist wine retailers. Their products have also been embraced by some of Australia’s top restaurants like Aria, Quay, Rockpool, The Fat Duck/Dinner by Heston, Aloft, Smolt and more.
When asked if he has ever had to face any challenges due to his country of origin, Nav Singh replies that his cultural heritage is one to be embraced as it gives him a unique advantage. “I believe my Indian background gives us an interesting story to complement our wine. A good measure of self-belief has always helped.”
And to all those who are taking steps into the wine making business, Singh has this advice, “Find a mentor and gain as much practical experience as possible around the world. Always keep an open mind and positive attitude while tasting wines. Build good networks within the wine community and be ready to work hard and long hours.”