Just as we at La Cave du Clown were preparing a newsletter devoted to the Casot des Mailloles, we learned of the sudden death of its founder, Alain Castex, struck down by a heart attack in the middle of his vineyards on June 2nd. A tragic fate for a winegrower who, on settling in the Roussillon region, devoted his life to his vines and to winemaking, with a philosophy that made him a crucial yet modest figure in the natural wine movement in the 90s. On this sad occasion, our newsletter takes the form of a tribute to Alain Castex, featuring some of his emblematic cuvées.
In 1994, Alain Castex and his partner Ghislaine Magnier moved to the Roussillon region to create Casot des Mailloles, in the Banyuls and Collioure appellation area (although the wines would later adopt the Vin de France designation). The vines (4 hectares), most of which are old, are planted in small terraced plots on steep slopes, requiring particularly demanding manual labor for a winemaker who refuses to use any chemical treatments. On the schist terroir of Banyuls and Collioure, the grape varieties are typically Mediterranean: Grenache and Carignan (noir, gris and blanc), Syrah and Mourvèdre. Low yields, no oenological inputs, minimal interventionism: these are the tough but uncompromising conditions that have produced the estate's highly individual cuvées for two decades. In 2015, the estate was sold (Alain Castex withdrew to a few vines in Fourques, inland, for his "Vins du Cabanon") to Jordi Pérez, who continues and amplifies the work begun. The vineyard now covers 5 ha, including parcels far from the coast and located at altitude (550/600 m.) in the Tarerach hinterland, on a granite-arena terroir. Controlled yields, gentle vinification: perfectly natural cuvées that tell the story of their terroir.