The lowest of Sara's three vineyards, planted at extremely high density by her father and with naturally very low yields, is Clos Martinet; a blend of 65% Garnacha, 18% Carignan, 11% Syrah and small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the great wines of Priorat. The 2017 is the first vintage to eschew any barrique aging, favouring just foudre and demi john, and as such it appears to have sacrificed a bit of gloss in favour of edge and spice. Perhaps the most naturally “complete” wine in the line-up, the 2017 Clos Martinet offers up plummy fruit with notes of blackberries, cherry and blackcurrant with ripe but present tannins. Picked early to retain freshness, we can’t recall a Clos Martinet with as clear a ferrous, mineral edge on the finish. While Clos is always going to be the most modern and experimental of the crus, if the direction of this wine for the future means more chiselled tannins and overt minerality, then we can’t wait to see what follows. Finished for 3 months in concrete before bottling. Where the 2016 requires patience, the 2017 is more expressive today.
When Sara Perez talks about her wines you listen. She is one of those infectious characters that manages to explain terroir in ways that are abstract yet wholly understandable. Her passion when talking about the vineyards she exploits is palpable and visible. Waving her arms and hunching her shoulders it is impossible not to be drawn in; it is mesmeric. You understand just what she means when she throws her arms up like a spring bursting from the earth and says “Escurons, it is life. It needs the cool breath of an amphora to truly allow it to express itself”. And when she hunches her shoulders and furrows her arms to the earth and says “Pesseroles is elemental and needs wood to give it some warmth” you get it too. Mas Martinet has come a long way since estate's inception in 1989 (the same time that Clos Dofi, Clos Mogador, Clos Erasmus and Clos de l'Obac were established) and, thanks to Sara Perez, is now one of the most respected of Spain’s small family estates. The emphasis here is on Garnacha and Carinena, with diminishing proportions of Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot making up the numbers. Between Menut and Martinet Bru, the entry level wines offer stunning silky fruit and slate-spiced wines representative of the region. Each of the single crus, meanwhile, is designed to represent a different era in the history of Priorato; Els Escurcons the pre-phylloxera era when locals would plant Garnacha at altitude to benefit from cooling breezes, Cami Pesseroles the era immediately after phylloxera when poor vignerons set about re-planting with the high yielding Carinena grape, and Clos Martinet representing the modern era, when international varieties arrived in Priorat and investment returned to the area. Experiments with food-trodden, naturally-styled whites have proven very exciting, and the 2017 vintage sees the first commercial release of Cami Pesseroles “Brisat” – a blend of Garnacha Blanca, Picpoul and Pedro Ximenez, raised in amphora and glass demi-johns. Up and down, the Mas Martinet wines are strikingly beautiful examples of what Priorato can achieve and demonstrate exactly why the wine-loving world should sit up and take note of this unique slate-rich region.