Clos Martinet Priorat 2003
José Luis has now handed over day-to-day responsibilities to his talented daughter, Sara, and under her dynamic direction the estate is making what for many critics is the most sophisticated and elegant of the great Priorat 'clos'. There are two estate wines. Martinet Bru is the younger vine cuvée, super-fruity, approachable in its youth, and excellent value. This initiative also ensures the consistently outstanding quality of the top wine, Clos Martinet, because only the best parcels are blended in.
"The 2003 Clos Martinet ratchets it up to another level. Opaque purple in color, it has an expressive nose of vanilla, scorched earth, plums, black cherries, and blueberries. Medium to full-bodied, on the palate it is nearly seamless with light, ripe and well integrated tannin. The finish is long and pure. Give this elegant Priorat 1-3 additional years of bottle age and drink it over the following 10."
"Dark ruby. Singed, herb-inflected cherry and plum aromas, with suggestions of espresso, licorice and grilled meat. Weighty and rich but not overly thick, with sweet cherry, plum preserve and chocolate flavors accented by dried herbs and flowers. Ripe to be sure, but firmed by gentle acids that brighten the finish, which features youthful tannins and a warm, sweet note of cherry jam. This rather suave wine is drinking well right now."
-International Wine Cellar
Tiny and entirely composed of craggy, jagged and deeply terraced vineyards, Priorat is a Catalan wine-producing region that was virtually abandoned until the early 1990s. Its renaissance came with the arrival of one man, René Barbier, who recognized the region’s forgotten potential. He banded with five friends to create five “Clos” in the village of Gratallops. Their aim was to revive some of Priorat’s ancient Carignan vines, as well as plant new—mainly French—varieties. These winemakers were technically skilled, well-trained and locally inspired; not surprisingly their results were a far cry from the few rustic and overly fermented wines already produced.
This movement escalated Priorat’s popularity for a few reasons. Its new wines were modern and made with well-recognized varieties, namely old Carignan and Grenache blended with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. When the demand arrived, scarcity commanded higher prices and as the region discovered its new acclaim, investors came running from near and far. Within ten years, the area under vine practically doubled.
Priorat’s steep slopes of licorella (brown and black slate) and quartzite soils, protection from the cold winds of the Siera de Monstant and a lack of water, leading to incredibly low vine yields, all work together to make the region’s wines unique. While similar blends could and are produced elsewhere, the mineral essence and unprecedented concentration of a Priorat wine is unmistakable.
Beyond the usual suspects, there are hundreds of red grape varieties grown throughout the world. Some are indigenous specialties capable of producing excellent single varietal wines, while others are better suited for use as blending grapes. Each has its own distinct viticultural characteristics, as well as aroma and flavor profiles, offering much to be discovered by the curious wine lover. In particular, Portugal and Italy are known for having a multitude of unique varieties but they can really be found in any region.