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Established in 2007 by Vianney Castan, Joseph Castan Fine Wine, wine grower & merchant in the Languedoc-Roussillon area specializes in Languedoc and Southern Rhone Valley wines. That is a good definition of Joseph Castan business, although it would be too simplistic to faithfully describe the long way the company has come since 2007…
An exclusive interview with Vianney Castan
Background on Vianney
Vianney, how did you land up in the wine world?
To tell the truth, it is not so much a landing as my going back to my roots. To me, vine and wine are a family history above all else!
It all started in the 1900s with my great-grandfather Joseph Castan. His wife was the daughter of a wine grower, and he was the first representative of the name to buy vines. Being a primary school teacher at the time, no one could tell that this man would become a wine grower himself but his marriage gave him a leg up in the winemaking. After that, he was even appointed president of Lansargues’ co-op winery and bagged many awards in Montpellier’s International Trade Fair in 1927.
My grandfather Jean took up the torch but after him, the vines were let run wild until I took over…
So how did your venture start?
I already had one foot in the wine industry since early childhood, so I set out to study in a business school to get a first job as an export manager in a co-op winery in the Corbières region. I really felt like I needed to share my passion about land, moments of friendliness and togetherness related to wine, as well as the nobleness of being a grower. I deeply needed to share all that worldwide and bring a slice of French culture all at the same time!
But that was only one side of my job position. I dedicated much of my time to going in the vineyards alongside the wine growers. I closely monitored the arrival of harvest time and the very making of the wine. That is how I have built up all my technical knowledge about vine and wine.
What were your motivations when you set up the company Joseph Castan?
I am an intrinsic builder, meaning that I love to create, build and develop new things.
As an Export Manager, I started to feel a bit cramped in my position, especially because product ranges were pretty much the same from one year to the next and were not being developed enough. I truly needed to express my creativity and to leave my own mark on wines in order to better tailor our produces to client preferences.
That is how the idea to set up the company Joseph Castan began to form in my mind. Who else than my wife Emilie could be the best person to support me on this adventure! Emilie is fully competent for all administrative tasks. Just like me, she was raised in the countryside, and she was really interested in such a project and the lifestyle that it entailed. So upon founding our wine business we acquired the family estate to settle down there and share a passion and a heritage.
So the Joseph Castan Company was born in 2007: How would you describe its first steps?
In 2007, we straightaway set Joseph Castan as a reference supplier of Languedoc-Roussillon and Rhone Valley wines, with a true will to emphasize our country richness and showcase produces that may have suffered an unfairly bad reputation… To do this, we combined the skills of strong personality wine growers, a selection of distinctive varieties and high quality lands.
So as of its debuts in 2008, our exports of a fairly wide range of Languedoc-Roussillon and Pays d’Oc wines, as well as specific-label wines were a great success! Thanks to our knowledge of the wine markets and Joseph Castan signature, our wines promptly found their consumers. Getting off to a great start, the company Joseph Castan went from zero to a 4 million bottle production between 2007 and 2012, leading to a two-digit growth.
First, the company Joseph Castan was based in the town of Baillargues. Why did you choose Château Saint-Jean d’Aumières as your new headquarters?
As from 2011, we were already looking for a wine estate in an area of great repute where to set up the company, build brand awareness, and also create a pleasant environment for our family life. In 2012, we bought Château St-Jean d’Aumières, which is beautifully located on the superb Larzac terraces.
This wine estate had been highly prominent until 2000 but the quality of its production dropped dramatically afterwards, damaging the reputation of the place. As soon as Emilie and I arrived there, we changed the agricultural practices prioritizing optimal grape ripening in order to leverage the vineyard potential, offer the best of the ‘terroir’, and ultimately bring back Château St. Jean d’Aumières’ original prestige.
Setting up a business, and then acquiring a wine estate upon the Larzac terraces… That’s quite something! Why did you buy a second winery?
Costières de Nîmes designation forms part of our range. That is how I discovered these wines in which I immediately detected typical traits ―they are generous, fruity nectars― that would be growth generating in the future. These increasingly popular wines gave me the idea to invest in this area too.
Rhone Valley’s soils have multiple advantages including that of benefiting from the lower Rhone’s waters and its many river branches. With climate change possibly leading to drought periods, Costières will be a sustainable land area, where irrigation may however be considered when Southern France has a harder time dealing with a dryer environment…
So in 2015, I bought out Château Saint-Louis La Perdrix, located in the town of Bellegarde. This property is steeped in history, with great figures such as St. Louis (Louis IX) and Philippe Lamour having walked upon its ground. The soil is covered with pebbles, allowing a night-time ripening process for grapes very similar to that happening in renowned Châteauneuf-du-Pape lands.