Marc Castan is the winegrower of the Mamaruta estate, in the communes of La Palme and Leucate, in the Languedoc Roussillon region. He has recovered the 14 hectares of vines from his grandfather. "I continued to work for 7 years in the cooperative cellar where he was. In 2008, I left the cellar to make my first vintages in 2009," Marc says. The departure of the cooperative cellar is an opportunity for a new beginning and a new horizon. For Marc, it is the access to freedom: "The profession of winegrower gives me the freedom to do what I want when I want. »
"I worked for 7 years with chemistry. Until I get really sick of it," Marc recalls. "I took the step in 2008, when I left the cooperative cellar, I converted the vineyard into organic and went on natural winemaking. A big change for the young winegrower who could no longer find himself in the cooperative's environment. When he leaves, he finds his freedom. "Now I can work as I wish," says Marc, "that is, I can get closer to nature in order to restore living soil. I listen to each vine plant, they must be in harmony with their surroundings. »
A working philosophy that requires a lot of work in the vineyards, and as the winegrower rightly points out: "if you do a lot of work in the vineyard, it's a shame to shoot everything down by reusing chemicals in the cellar. "An unstoppable logic that leads Marc to natural vinification, without yeast, without fining, without suffering.....
And the results are there! For the winegrower: "We see the differences year after year. The further we go, the more elegant and mineral the wines become. »
Like any good winegrower, Marc's goal is to have the most beautiful and healthy grapes possible. "Like that, in winemaking, it is done by itself," smiles the winemaker.
The Mamaruta estate: 14 plots, and almost as many vintages
In these terroirs in the south of France, it is not easy for winegrowers to favour fresh fruit and freshness in the wines. But Marc arrives, with a lot of observation and passion to find solutions. "I harvest very early in the year, usually 3 weeks before everyone else. I don't do maturity checks in the laboratory, I taste the grapes and when they have a firm and juicy flesh, I start harvesting. It allows me to obtain acidity in wines. »
The degrees remain relatively high on these sun-drenched soils, with red wines at 13, 14, even 15 in potential degree. But thanks to the acidity, the wines of the Mamaruta estate remain very digestible, they are not weighed down by alcohol.
"To promote freshness, I don't do long macerations and I do very few extractions," says the winegrower.
Leucate is a region of red wines: clay and limestone terroirs, a Mediterranean climate, traditions and know-how too. "We are in a very arid, very hot area with a lot of tramontane. But I also noticed a lot of differences between the vines planted on the garrigue terroirs, which are more sunny; the vines on the edge of the ponds, which have an iodized and salty side; and the vines on Leucate, planted on a limestone cliff, which makes the wines more acidic and harder" explains Marc. "Maritime entries bring freshness and acidity to the wines. We are in a seaside area that is very good for white wines. Marc wants to develop the proportion of white wines on his estate by introducing Spanish varieties that he likes.
Marc projects himself far beyond his field, on the scale of his territory. "We are in a rather monotonous lowland village where all the hedges have been pulled out. We're trying to bring a little more lives, insects and animals back," Marc enthuses.
To this end, the Mamaruta estate plans to develop polyculture. For several years now, Marc has been reintroducing hedges by planting fruit trees. He would like to go further, thinking of olive trees and herds of cows. "We already have a few animals. In winter, they graze in the vineyards. Maybe we're thinking about developing this axis a little bit," says the winegrower.
Bringing diversity back to the vines: the challenge of the Mamaruta estate
Marc Castan is a winegrower among the passionate, pragmatic, thoughtful, he advances according to his desires while enjoying his freedom. The result of this incredible work is successful vintages, such as the 2017 vintages. Some are still resting in barrels, others are preparing to be bottled. They are, in any case, all very promising: "The 2017 vintage is a small vintage, but the juices are really very good. They are fresh and have a lot of fruit. "We look forward to tasting it!
To discover the wines of the Mamaruta estate on the Grappes, it is here.
Manon Mouly (for Les Grappes)