Mas Martinet's Stunning 2016s

Mas Martinet's Stunning 2016s
Tasting with Mas Martinet’s Sara Perez is an experience that encompasses culture, history and philosophy, with laughs along the way. In our mind, there is no other winemaker who speaks about wine in quite the same way. It courses through her veins, so intertwined and purposefully that as she furrows her hands in the dark, ashen, licorella slate that characterises the vineyards of Priorat and exclaims, “look at it, feel it, it’s beautiful” and breathes deeply in to the earth, it’s as if the vineyard exhales and the environment comes alive. We are standing in Els Escurcons; the highest vineyard in the region. The view is spectacular. “Our wines must reflect the history of Priorat. They must be clearly born of this place and I want them to represent three different epochs. The first, Els Escurcons, speaks to the bygone era pre-phylloxera. It is a wine where traditional methods must prevail.” Pure, cerebral Garnacha, she ferments the Escurcons grapes in clay pots with 100% whole clusters and presses after two to three weeks. Aging is carried out purely in clear glass demi-johns. “Since 2015 I have learned to pay more attention on the fermentation vessel. In classic enology they tell you that it is only really the aging vessel that matters, but that is so wrong.”

Cami Pesseroles, the second cru, speaks to the early part of the twentieth century post-phylloxera. A blend of Carinena, around a hundred years old, and Garnacha planted in 1939 after the Spanish Civil War, they are co-fermented in large oak vats and aged in neutral 500L barrels. 2016 is the last vintage raised in oak, as, in keeping with her vision, they have moved to chestnut barrels for Cami Pesseroles from 2017 onwards. “It’s true that the chestnut is more rustic but it is also local, and fits the character of Carinena, and the vineyard too.” The third cru, Clos Martinet, represents the modern era. Planted in the 1980s, Clos is the most experimental of the three wines and is raised in different vessels, combining barrique, fuder, amphora and demi-johns. It is finished in concrete for three to four months before bottling to ensure the tannins resolve in to something juicy and round. “Clos Martinet is the wine that reflects the present day inventiveness and personality of our region.”

Martinet Bru completes the quartet of new releases and as always it is released a year ahead of the crus. The 2017 Bru is a seamless, flowing, dark fruit focused Priorat; the perfect introduction for those wanting to understand the Mas Martinet style. A softer, silkier expression with more easy-going up front fruit than the deep, mineral complexity of the crus, it drinks beautifully young. Another example of Sara Perez’s natural intuition, the grapes for Martinet Bru are all picked at the same time and co-fermented. “We want to keep alcohols on the lower side and maximise elegance. I therefore co-ferment to average the different ripeness levels and build freshness in to the wine.” 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 outside of Falset.

2017 was, like 2016, a warm dry vintage. The crus from 2016 offered today demand time in the cellar. The warmth of 2016 was such that their hearty, dense structures will need a few years to unfurl but they are unquestionably complex and profound,. They stand out as some of the finest wines of the vintage. Sara sums up her range best. “These are wines you can learn from. You can feel their fragility and sensibility with a constant sense of anguish and strength.”