When Sara Perez talks about her wines you listen. She is one of those infectious characters that manage 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’s quite 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 some oak 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) Now the estate is swiftly rising to the very pinnacle of fine wine production in the area. The emphasis here is on the Grenache grape, while Carignan and Syrah, too, play leading roles, with Cabernet and Merlot making up the numbers. These are strikingly beautiful examples of what Priorato can achieve and demonstrate exactly why the wine-loving world are sitting up and taking note of this unique slate-rich region.
Martinet Bru is a blend of predominantly Grenache and Syrah with a little Carignan, Cabernet and Merlot. Since 2010 this has come from a single vineyard that sits just out of Falset. Produced to be approachable young, yet full of Priorat character and polish, this is one of the best value Priorats on the market.
Escurcons, from the highest Licorella vineyards in the whole of Priorat was a project started by Sara in 2001. It represents the pre-phylloxeric era when locals would plant at height to gain the cooling effects of the wind and harness the freshness that altitude brings. The vineyard is 100% Grenache planted in a combination of terrace and contour. Since 2012 this cuvee has been fermented and aged entirely in Amphora and demi-john. A magnificent Grenache cuvee.
Cami Pesseroles comes from a vineyard further down the valley. The extremely old vines and the larger proportion of Carignan in the blend talk of the era immediately post phylloxera, when growers’ vine holdings had been decimated and replanting had to be done at the minimum of effort and with high yielding Carignan. Now over 100 years old, Sara’s Carignan vines produce tiny yields, just a couple of thousand bottles from 4ha, and produce some of Priorat’s most impressive and pensive wines. Ageing is done in 500 litre oak barrels.
Clos Martinet, the flagship wine and original single vineyard at the estate, represents the modern era, when international varieties arrived in Priorat and investment returned to the area. Now made up of just 5% Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot. From a single vineyard, aged in a mixture of large oak fuders and amphora it is a glorious blend of power and high-toned refinement.
Having seen a total revolution in the past twenty years Priorat now makes some of the worlds finest grenache based wines, making use of a particular slate and quartz soil type known locally as llicorella. And some incredibly old vines. Single vineyard sites have been identified, winemaking techniques have undergone a revolution and Priorat can now justly identify itself as one of the world's most exciting wine making appellations.