Mas Martinet, Priorat Tinto "Clos Martinet"
Mas Martinet, Priorat Tinto "Clos Martinet"

Mas Martinet, Priorat Tinto "Clos Martinet"

Priorat, Spain 2020 (750mL)
Regular price$84.00
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Mas Martinet, Priorat Tinto "Clos Martinet"

The deeply complex, powerfully framed, spice-driven wines of Priorat have been darlings of the wine press and collectors for the past couple of decades, but the seemingly meteoric rise did not come from nowhere. These high elevation vineyards, growing in the mountains above Spain’s northeastern coast, trace their viticultural history back to the Romans, but after several centuries of decline, the region received a lifegiving transfusion of talent in the late 1970s—and from that lifeline was born Clos Martinet. From steep slopes of almost pure slate, this powerhouse of depth and pedigree is one of Spain’s finest reds. Today we are pleased to offer the current 2020 release, a truly unique and delicious vintage that has received rave reviews, at the lowest price in the nation. It’s a tremendous opportunity to stock your cellar with an affordable masterpiece. But there’s an exciting bonus, too! Those who act very fast can also choose from the three library vintages direct from the estate to their U.S. importer, just follow these links: 2003 , 2005 , and 2007. Library wines to enjoy now, current release to stock the cellar, it’s a win-win for everyone!

Located about 15 miles inland from the Mediterranean coastal town of Tarragona, with a climate best described as “harsh”—bitingly cold winters and dry, hot summers—Priorat is often described as an “extreme” terroir. Its vineyards are perched at high altitudes in distinctive-looking soils of fractured slate called llicorella, and the earliest wine-growers to brave its rocky, terraced slopes were Carthusian Monks of the Scala Dei (“God’s ladder”) abbey. The name “Priorat” is Catalán for “priory,” in honor of those intrepid 12th-century monks.

Yet for all its history, Priorat wine in the modern era was largely forgotten, and its vineyards mostly abandoned, until a handful of producers led a comeback. In 1979, René Barbier, a native of Tarragona, convinced a band of like-minded aspirants to join him in exploring the rocky bluffs of Priorat. Having trained in Burgundy and worked in Alsace and Bordeaux, Barbier introduced the concept of the clos (small, enclosed, walled-in vineyard) and soon this handful of dreamers had their own mini-estates bearing names Clos Mogador, Clos Erasmus, Clos de l’Obac and Clos Martinet. José Luiz Pérez was one of Barbier’s original Priorat crew and he established Mas Martinet in 1989. “Clos Martinet” is the flagship wine from their 15-hectare estate in the village of Gratallops. Since 2001, Sara Pérez has managed all activity and guided their entire estate holdings to fully organic viticulture since 2008. 

In the winery, Sara has shifted to vinifying the wines using only natural yeasts, and occasionally including some grape stems in her fermentations. The aging takes place in a mix of French oak foudres (larger than the barriques of the past) and some clay amphorae. 2020 was an extremely challenging vintage for Mas Martinet: They lost 85% of the harvest to a diseases known as black rot, and we’re forced to make some pretty unusual decisions because of that. In the end the Syrah was least affected, and that leads the blend at 55%, with 38% Grenache, and a tiny touch of Carignan and Cabernet. In the glass, the wine displays a deep garnet red hue with hints of violet (less inky than most modern Priorat), with aromas of red and black cherries, wild blueberries, mulberry, lavender, anise, aromatic herbs, warm spice, leather, and turned earth. It has a plush mouthfeel but stays away from becoming syrupy thanks to some great freshness. It’s always amazing to experience a full-bodied, concentrated red that is simultaneously light on its feet, and this one has a decidedly “Mediterranean” feel to it, slightly reminiscent of some of my favorite old-school Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. Pair it with an herb-slathered leg of lamb and enjoy it at 60 degrees in large Bordeaux stems after a 30-minute decant. An epic experience awaits. Enjoy!

Mas Martinet, Priorat Tinto "Clos Martinet"
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