From £12.95, $18.99, CA$30.40, 136 Brazilian reais
Today’s utterly drinkable and keenly priced wine of the week proves that ‘Priorat bargain’ is not an oxymoron. Mas Martinet owner and winemaker Sara Perez, pictured here in summery mode, has described it as ‘an easy way to understand Priorat’, the appellation in north-east Spain, inland from Tarragona, that underwent a quality revolution in the 1990s. Mas Martinet was founded way back in 1989.
When I tasted this vintage at Justerini’s Spanish and Italian tasting earlier this year, I described it as ‘bursting with energy and full of lively red fruit’ and having ‘a depth and intensity remarkable at this price’. I gave it a high score of 17/20 and suggested you could drink it right now or any time up to 2025. It will certainly gain in complexity with time in the bottle but the fruit is just about irresistible now. You could sip it on its own or it would be great over the holiday period, especially if you are planning to tuck into turkey.
Mas Martinet, Menut 2015 Priorat is a blend of organically farmed Grenache (40%), Carignan (20%), Syrah (30%) and Merlot (10%), fermented in concrete tanks over 30–40 days and then aged 14-18 months in either older oak barrels or much larger wooden foudres. Perez explains that the slow fermentation is partly due to the fact that they do not inoculate the juice with cultured yeasts. Instead they use a 'starter' made from 200 kg of grapes harvested 10 days earlier.
The alcohol is 15% – not unusual in the hot, slate-dominated soils of Priorat’s old, bush-vine vineyards – and yet it is completely balanced by the wine’s freshness and what I can only describe as the region’s ‘rocky complexity’ – a sort of dry, refined tannin texture, plus a slight and attractive dustiness that shows in both the aroma and on the finish.
How do they make such a joyful and yet serious wine for such a good price? They use mainly grapes from their own vineyards but also buy some fruit (occasionally also wine) from other trusted organic growers in Priorat, thus making it their so-called négociant wine. Such wines used to be thought of as at a lower level than those made exclusively from a producer’s own vineyards but this example and those of many of today's best winegrowers in Burgundy (Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey springs to mind) completely overturn this view.
The fact that Sara Perez buys in some of the fruit for this wine also means that she can make more of it and that it is widely available in the UK and the US, as you can see if you click on the Find this wine link above or below. It can also be found in Canada, Brazil, Sweden, Mexico and Israel. Mas Martinet's UK importer Justerini & Brooks offer the wine at £82 per case of 12 in bond, which works out at about £10.80 per bottle including VAT, but they do not sell by the bottle.