The stories of success, these people who fight to achieve their dreams or goals are always very rewarding. Especially when everything around them indicates that what they claim is very difficult or almost impossible. When everyone tells you that in this site it is impossible to grow vines, that the soil is very poor and does not have enough nutrients or when you discover that the price at which you have to sell each bottle of wine just to cover the costs is almost what it costs to fill the car’s fuel tank. Besides, the place you want is practically uninhabited and everyone ends up saying that you’re crazy if you do that. And all because one day you found a place and walking around it decided that it was there, and not anywhere else, where you wanted to do it.
We were still using pesetas, there were no private television channels and the internet was still unimaginable. There was nothing in this area. The floor was made of slate, the analysis to see if there were nutrients had to be repeated because the machine had to be malfunctioning when it said that there was nothing down there, the vines had to be planted in terraces because the terrain was all hillside, which made the grape harvest to be done by hand, thus increasing production costs. Who was going to pay five times what a good Rioja cost for a wine from the interior of Tarragona, a place lost in the mountains, where no one produced wine other than to consume it at home?
However, five friends decided to make their dream come true. Daphne, Álvaro Rene, Carles and Josep Lluís were convinced that there could make wine here, and wine of good quality. And there they went. And so it began, with a group of people and families who looked more like a hippy commune than a group of winemakers who would revolutionize the world of wine in Spain and abroad.
Luckily, the five of them remained in the Priorat, and achieved their objectives. Of course they had to fight, but where is the fun of something if you do not have to fight for it?
Overtime, the area became what it is now, a region where full-bodied wines are made, with great power but very elegant, and are always very pleasant to drink. Of course, if you appreciate the wines like that, because here you do not find light wines of those you can see through the glass. The Llicorella has these things, the roots of the vines must dive in the ground more than ten meters down to find food. There are wineries that also do not water the plants, and this is an area not know by the rain. And all that is transferred to the grape and from the grape to the wine. These are wines that if you like you are passionate about them. And you who read me know that I am a great passionate about the wines of the Priorat.
I have tasted every wine I could and I have always found great wines. My style of wine is the one that gets you to convey everything that the soil brings without looking for the wood to do it, as it happens in other places. I have been in love with the power, but above all, the elegance of Priorat wines since I enjoyed the first one many years ago. And year after year, that controlled power continues to bewitch me.
I like to visit wineries and see the differences in the process of making a wine. How some wineries irrigate and others do not, some use pesticides and their neighbor does not, others vinify by plots and varieties, others with the blend already done, French oak or American oak, new or used barrel … It is always curious to see how these aspects can influence in the final product and how the winemaker chooses the path that they like their wines to take to respond to what they are looking for.
As a wine lover, I have my preferences and at the same time, I keep a place in my memory for those bottles that left a deep impression in me and that I always want to try again, even if they are different vintages, of course. One of my first Priorats was Finca La Planeta, I think 1997 by Celler Pasanau. Recently I have tried a couple of times their 2007, besides some vintages in-between, and it still seems to me an excellent wine. I do not want to forget Les Terrasses 2001 by Alvaro Palacios. I’ve tasted 2002, 2003, and I think 2005 and 2006. Another one that I have in my memory is Clos Mogador 1998. Little more I can say besides I found it among the best wines I have ever tasted. And another one I have in my memory is Clos Martinet 2004 by Mas Martinet.
Among the wineries that I enjoyed visiting are Costers del Siurana, Mas Doix and Clos Dominic, this latter twice. There are several that I have visits scheduled and one of them is Mas Martinet, a winery located between Falset and Gratallops.
Mas Martinet was founded in 1981 by Josep Lluis Perez and his daughter Sara is the current winemaker. Sara combines her work here along with her Venus La Universal project in Montsant, which we also had occasion to enjoy a few bottles.
Sara likes to work with wood, cement, amphora, damajuanas and steel, always looking for her favorite profile. Here at the Priorat she makes 5 red wines:
- Martinet Bru is the youngest wine and it is made with grapes from the Mas Torrent plot, with a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cariñena, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and 18 months aging in wooden vats of 4,000 liters and 300 liter barrels.
- Duaia, blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and 21 months ageing in French oak barrels.
- The flagship of the winery, Clos Martinet, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cariñena, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from the plot of Mas d’en Martinet. 16 months ageing in wooden fudres and barrels, and also in clay amphora.
- Els Escurçons is a limited-produced wine, 1,200 bottles of the 2012 vintage, which is made with Garnacha Negra 100% from the vineyard of the same name. The wine ages in 200-liter clay amphora for 16 months and 3 months more in damajuana.
- Camì Pesseroles is a red blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Cariñena. It comes from a plot located in the valley of Pesseroles and aged over 20 months in oak barrels of 225 liters. Its production is around 500 bottles.
They are wines whose main characteristic is that they reflect the area from which they come. Soon we will talk to Sara about her wines and philosophy as winemaker.
Photos © by Mas Martinet