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Visit to Mas Martinet and Venus la Universal

27/05/2018 Wineries

In the past few days, we travelled to the region of Priorat and Montsant to visit Mas Martinet and Venus la Universal. Both projects are led by Sara Pérez, the second one in collaboration with her partner, René Barbier Jr.

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The day started at Venus la Universal, the winery shared by Pérez and Barbier. We were able to try the new vintage, which was still in barrels. This couple’s style has changed little by little, and most of all in their way of making wine. They went from ageing in small, 225-litre barrels, to foudres, which gives their wines a lighter style when it comes to ageing. They seek to fully express the lightness and fruitiness provided by the calcareous soils of the region.

Next, we moved on to the tasting room, which they recently built in front of the winery. It is an incredible space, with an integrated kitchen, where Sara and René host some tastings and dining. This year, and thanks to the rain, the valley we can see through the large window is incredibly green, and their vegetable garden and the farm looked splendid. All of this with the unique landscape of Priorat in the background. We tasted the current vintages. The most outstanding one was the magnificent red Dido, with an extraordinary fluidity. We would also like to highlight the winery’s forthcoming new launch, Venus de la Figuera, a stratospheric Grenache wine from a farm in the village of the same name, a beautiful spot located on top of the Montsant mountain range from where you can see the entire Priorat.

From the Venus winery, we moved on to the winery Mas Martinet. On the way, we were able to see the change of soils between Montsant and Priorat; we went from calcareous stone to black slate. Before visiting the winery, we went to see the vineyards that make up Martinet Bru and the Ercurçons site.

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The Martinet Bru vineyard, located on the Mas Torrent farm, is designed in a unique way by Sara’s father, Josep Lluis Pérez, who is an advanced and restless scholar of viticulture. It is shaped like an arch, which favours aeration and sun exposure of the vines. On the other hand, the Escurçons site is located in one of the highest farms in Priorat, at an altitude of 610 metres, from where we can see almost all the valleys and villages that make up D.O.Q. Priorat. The farm is planted exclusively with Grenache on slate soils with a high ferric component, which gives the black rocks of licorella their characteristic reddish brown colour.

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From Escurçons we went down to the winery, where Sara Pérez explained how she understood winemaking, a process of understanding to unlearn and search for the most emotional part of wine, a way to express what she feels in each of the places that make up Mas Martinet. This was the first year that she made all the wines without a pre-fermentation agent or starter (pie de cuba). Due to the early harvest, she did not have enough time to prepare it. However, her fears faded as she found that the kinetics of the fermentations were perfect.

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In Clos Martinet, she co-ferments all the varieties that make up the farm in large cement vats. Then, she refines them in different containers where part of the barrel is always present to provide the warmth and maturity of the farm. In Escurçons, she seeks to highlight the location of the farm, the most aerial part of it where the Grenache vines are grown at a height, and with the demijohns, she has found that way of balancing the warmth of the climate. With the ceramic/amphora, the plot expresses the most mature part.

At the Camí de Pesseroles farm, one of the most rustic and extreme concerning weather conditions, Sara has started to use large chestnut barrels with a surprisingly good result. Here, the more mature and volatile parts of the grape turn into precision and floral aromas full of violets.

A fantastic master class by one of the best oenologists of our country. It has been a real pleasure, Sara!

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Back at Venus, we were invited to the Wednesday team lunch, a weekly meeting organised by René Barbier Jr. in the winery’s tasting room. Here, winemakers and people of the area dedicated to the vineyards meet and blind taste wines while sharing their concerns. An important thing to do to continue evolving and growing in this world.

The meal, apart from being interesting, was a great way to end an exceptional day, surrounded by people who love what they do and what surrounds them. Two very important wineries and two very important people to understand the direction and outlook of Priorat and Montsant wines. As always, thank you very much, Sara and René, for welcoming us into your home!