As the eldest child of Mas Martinet founder Josep Lluis Perez, Sara Perez hails from winemaking royalty in Priorat. Having taken over the reins from her father at Mas Martinet in 1996, she also runs her own Montsant wine project, Venus, on the side, where she makes elegant Carignan/Syrah blends that are more restrained than her powerful Priorat reds.
She can be found driving between the regions in a sunshine-yellow 2CV. To win the respect of local grape growers in the late ‘90s, Perez took to swearing and taking her coffee black. “Eventually they understood that I was the one who decided who to buy from,” says Perez, who believes her veins pump more wine than blood.
Her latest experiment is a 100% Garnacha from a “mythical” single vineyard in Priorat. “With wine I’ve learnt that you have to follow your intuition and work with the rhythms of nature,” she says.
Who or what made you want to become a winemaker? My parents started the Clos project in Priorat with other amazing people like René Barbier, Daphne Glorian and Alvaro Palacios. I was interested in plants, ecology and biology and was lucky enough to be living during this energetic beginning of the revolution in Priorat. One morning I decided to come back and be part of it.
How would you describe your winemaking style? Observing nature, the climate, the soil, and the vineyard and respecting the expression of each site and each vintage.
Who is your winemaking inspiration? I’ve learned a lot from different people from all over the world but my biggest source of inspiration is Gaia – nature.
What is the single wine you’re most proud of so far and why? I have three wines that changed my vision of the world. First is Pigat 1998 made from old vine Carignan from Cims de Porrera, a spectacular single vineyard. The wine taught me that you must follow your intuition.
Then there’s Venus 1999, the begginnig of my own project made from old vine Carignan and Syrah, an explosive combination of complexity. Finally there is Els Escurçons 2016 – pure Garnacha from a mythical vineyard.
Has it been tough getting to the top of a male dominated industry? Sexism doesn’t just exist in the wine world. Every day I have to justify my acts and my thoughts, and say ‘Hey! I’m here, and I have the same rights as another person’. We don’t realise how sexist we are as a society.
Desert island wine: Château Musar 1967 made by the late, great Serge Hochar.