LE CASOT DES MAIOLLES is a winery in the Côte Vermeille sub-region of Roussillon on France’s Mediterranean border with Spain. Founder-owners Alain Castex (b.1949) and Ghislaine Magnier (from the Paris area) created the estate after Castex, then in his mid-40s, had sold his previous vineyard, the extensive Domaine de Amouriés in Corbières, in 1994 (part of the vineyard was sold off as a going concern, the rest was grubbed up under the EU’s subsidised vine-pull scheme). The couple’s wines could have qualified for the Collioure AOC but were sold instead as Vin de Table (now Vin de France) or table wine. This was because the appellation authorities deemed the couples’ wines too atypical. ‘Of course they are atypical,’ Castex once told me, ‘the people who set the standard for the appellation all use weedkillers in their vines. We plough.’ After the couple retired in 2015, Jordi Perez took over the estate.
OWNER | Jordi Perez.
VINEYARDS | 3.5 hectares (8.6 acres) on the steep, often terraced slopes of Roussillon’s Côte Vermeille. Freestanding bush vines with some vines tied to a single post (echalat). Merlot, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir, Carignan, Lladoner, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Aubin.
CERTIFICATION | 1998 Official conversion to organics begins. / 2016 Demeter certified Biodynamic.
WINERY | Alain Castex found what is now the cellar (an old Citroën garage) a fortnight before his first and Ghislaine Magnier’s first harvest in 1995.
LE BLANC DU CASOT | 2003 Vin de Table Blanc Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris. Old cider nose, malty, heavy urine colour, fine acidity, plenty of weight and flavour, a relic from the past when tasted at Millésime Bio January 22nd 2004. / 2009 Vin de Table Blanc 60% Grenache Gris, 30% Grenache Blanc, 10% Carignan Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne. Very saline at the Natural Wine Fair, Borough Market 15-17 May 2011. / 2016 Vin de France Blanc Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Roussanne, Viognier. Schist. 150 metres (492 feet). A mix of whole bunches (30%) and destemmed & crushed grapes cold macerated for 7 days before fermentation. Aged in 400-500-litre barrels. No added sulfites.
OBREPTICE BLANC | 2015 Vin de France Blanc 80% Vermentino, 20% Marsanne on sandy granite (arènes granitiques) at 550 metres (1,800 feet). Pressed, 24 hours on skins. Racked. Fermented 50% in stainless steel and 50% in 500-litre foudres.12.5%.
CANTA MANAÑA ROSÉ | 2007 Mourvedre, Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris. / 2011 ‘Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Carignan, Mourvedre, Muscat. No added sulfites,’ (Isabelle Legeron, 2014, p176).
LE ROSÉ DE ZAZA 2016 | Vin de France Rosé 80% Syrah, 20% Marsanne on sandy granite (arènes granitiques) at 550 metres (1,800 feet). Pressed, fermented in stainless steel. 13%. / 2017 Not made.
CLOT DE TAILLELAUQUE | From a single eponymously named north-west facing plot on schist at 150 metres (492 feet). First planted in 1949. A combe with two slopes surrounded by wild cork oaks, sun roses (‘le ciste’), broom (le genêt scorpion) and thyme. / 2002 Vin de Table Rouge 60% Grenace Noir, 40% Carignan & Mourvèdre Strange earthy nose, and earthy palate, some mercaptan also I think, but definitely distinctive when tasted at Millésime Bio January 22nd 2004. / 2003 Vin de Table Rouge Vat sample. Cleaner than the 2002, but also some carbonic gas, firm and natural acidity, and lots of earth, terroir and personality at Millésime Bio January 22nd 2004. / 2016 Vin de France Rouge Grenache Noir, Carignan, Mourvedre, Counoise. One third whole bunches, two thirds destemmed and crushed. Aged in stainless steel.
LE POUDRE D’ESCAMPETTE | 2007 Vin de Table Rouge Grenache Noir, Carignan and Mourvèdre.
ROC BLANC 2015 | Vin de France Rouge 100% Syrah on sandy granite (arènes granitiques) at 550 metres (1,800 feet). Destemmed. Aged in used 500-litre foudres.
SOULÀ / 100% Grenache Noir on schist. 150 metres (492 feet). South west facing. / 2003 Vin de Table Rouge Came out of barrel last night. Very tannic, nice earth aggressive adidity, nice earth again when tasted at Millésime Bio January 22nd 2004. / 2009 Vin de Table Rouge Sweet and a bit cheesy and attenuated at the Natural Wine Fair, Borough Market 15-17 May 2011. / 2016 Vin de France Rouge One third whole bunches, two thirds destemmed and crushed. 30 days on skins. Aged in used 400-500-litre foudres. 13%.
VISINUM | From a single eponymous plot of Syrah, Grenache Noir, Carignan and Mourvèdre on on schist. 150 metres (492 feet). 2015 One third whole bunches, two thirds destemmed and crushed. Fermented in stainless steel. Aged in 400-500-litre foudres.
VIN DOUX NATUREL
I once asked Alain Castex why he did not make any Banyuls and he replied “Why do I want to mute my [partially fermented grape] juice with spirit whose origin is unknown? I spend my time in the vines to make a unique wine. Why would I then chuck distilled wine from any old vines in it. Banyuls is an industrial wine, a heresy, an abomination.”
CONTACT | Jordi Perez, Le Casot des Mailloles, 17 avenue du Puig del Mas, F-66650 Banyuls sur Mer (Pyrénées-Orientales), France / Tel+33 (0)18.104.22.168.37 (office) or +33 (0)22.214.171.124.52 (winery)
Isabelle Legeron MW, Natural Wine, An introduction to organic and biodynamic wines grown naturally (2014, Cico Books, London & New York), p151.