Marc Castan is the winegrower of the Mamaruta estate, in the communes of La Palme and Leucate, in Languedoc Roussillon. He took over the 14 Ha 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," says Marc. The departure of the cooperative cellar is an opportunity for a new start and a new horizon. For Marc, it's access to freedom: "The winemaking profession gives me the freedom to do what I want when I want."
"I worked for 7 years with chemistry. Until I was really fed up with it," recalls Marc. "I took the plunge in 2008, when I left the cooperative winery, I converted the vineyard to organic and started on natural vinification". A big change for the young winegrower who could no longer find himself in the milieu of the cooperative. By leaving, he regains his freedom. "Now, I can work as I want," says Marc, "that is to say, I can get closer to nature in order to restore living soil. I listen to each vine, they must be in harmony with what surrounds them".
A work philosophy that requires a lot of work in the vineyard, and as the winemaker rightly points out: "if you do a lot of work in the vineyard, it's a shame to shoot everything down by reusing chemistry in the cellar" An unstoppable logic that leads Marc to natural vinification, without yeast, without fining, without sulphur ....
And the results are there! For the winegrower: "We see the differences year after year. The more you go forward, the more elegant and mineral the wines become. "
Like any good winemaker, Marc's goal is to have the most beautiful and healthy grapes possible. "That way, in winemaking, it's all done by itself," smiles the winemaker.
In these terroirs of the South of France, it is not easy for winemakers to favour fresh fruit and freshness in their wines. But Marc manages, 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 control in the laboratory, I taste the grapes and when they have a firm and juicy flesh, I start harvesting. This allows me to obtain acidity in the wines. "
The degrees remain relatively high on these sun-drenched terroirs, with red wines at 13, 14, even 15 in potential degrees. But thanks to the acidity, the wines of Domaine Mamaruta remain very digestible, they are not weighed down by alcohol.
To promote freshness, I don't do long macerations and I only do very few extractions," confides the winemaker.
Leucate is a region of red wines: clay-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 étangs which have an iodized and salty side; and the vines on Leucate, planted on a limestone cliff which makes more acidic and harder wines" explains Marc."The sea entrances bring freshness and acidity to the wines. We are in a seaside area which is very good for white wines". Marc wishes to develop the share of white wines on his estate by introducing Spanish grape varieties that he likes.
Marc looks beyond his estate, to the scale of his territory: "We are in a village on a slightly monotonous plain where all the hedges have been pulled up. We're trying to bring back a little more life, insects and animals," enthuses Marc.
For this, the Mamaruta estate is planning to develop polyculture. For several years now, Marc has been reintroducing hedges by planting fruit trees. He would like to go further, thinking about olive trees and herds of cows. "We already have a few animals. In winter, they graze in the vineyards. We are perhaps thinking about developing this axis a little", confides the winegrower.
Marc Castan is a winegrower among the passionate, pragmatic, thoughtful, he moves forward according to his desires, taking advantage of his freedom. The result of this incredible work is successful vintages, like the 2017 vintages. Some of them are still resting in barrels, others are about to be bottled. They are, in any case, all very promising: "The 2017 vintage is a small one, but the juices are really very good. They're fresh and they've got lots of fruit," we can't wait to taste them!
To discover the wines of the Mamaruta estate on the Grappes, it is here.
Manon Mouly (for Les Grappes)