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How do we produce our Ranci Dolç?

The Ranci Dolç of Mas Martinet is a naturally sweet wine (without added sugar or alcohol) 100% made with Garnatxa Negra. This Garnacha comes from the big terrace that we have here, in front of the winery. We don’t use our vintage every year to produce rancio wine, but we do it in the hottest years, if it is possible. We harvest the grapes with around 15º of alcohol, and we put them on wicker beds, in the shade, in order to let them dry slowly, between 7 and 21 days. All this process is done to get dehydrated grapes, with a high sugar content, and therefore, a natural sweet wine.
Once the grapes are dehydrated, we squash them, and we let them ferment with their natural yeasts for a couple of months. Then, we press them, and we put them in demijohns or in a barrel, where the fermentation process will slowly continue until its completion in the next year (it will remain approximately 80 g/l of sugar). When this process is completed, we refill the first old barrels of the winery, barrels that we have gathered one by one around Priorat. These barrels come from Torroja, El Molar, Gratallops… and most of them have been gathered because their original owners had forgotten them in their houses, and they didn’t use them. There, inside the barrels, these fermented grapes will be blended with an older wine (the first one dates from 1994) and with the centenary mothers, which are responsible for turning the sweet wine into a fine, elegant and creamy rancio wine. Every year, during the old moon of January, we refill the barrels (*ras de carretells) with rancio wines, beginning with the oldest one, like in the solera process.
When bottling, we only bottle a third part of the wine that we have inside the first barrel. As if it was a sherry, we only bottle a part that we indicate later on the label. We always leave a remaining part of the wine inside the barrels in order to completely fill them with a younger wine, which comes from another barrel, and we keep on working with the solera process until we get to the barrel which contains the most recent wine.
The first bottling of this wine was done in 2017, with more than 22 years of ageing, and now we have already done the second one…
It is a wine which specially requires calm, rest and serenity in order to enjoy it with full awareness.

*Ras de carretells: in contrast with traditional soleras, in Priorat, the barrels or carretells are put only in a horizontal position, without blending.

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Last Friday, we had the chance to talk with Joan Josep Bertran, “Joanji”. Despite being outside, he is a person who knows us and understands us, sometimes even better than ourselves. He is the father and the mother of the labels of Mas Martinet, the person responsible for our graphic image.
He is the person to ask how it all started, how the Ranci Dolç label of Martinet was born, and which was its creative process. This is a summary of our talk.
Joan Josep tells us, first of all, about the creative process. For this reason, he sets the starting point in the winery from a new approach consisting in giving “to each piece, each product, each wine produced, a more marked, more specific personality.” In other words, this means “differentiating each project starting from a general philosophy, from central arguments.” He tells us that, in general, there are two options for creating the identity of each product. The first option creates a winery storytelling, and the second one enhances the specific profile of each product, because in each product there is a wine concept, a territorial concept…. For each product there will be a more particular piece.
After putting ourselves in the situation, he tells us that, in order to start the process, it is necessary to understand what is behind of that particular product, talking with Sara, of course. And talking with her, he received several ideas, insights… which were the central pillars of the project:
– Imperfection: imperfection, related to the way the idea of Ranci Dolç of Martinet was born, when Sara was little, and she tried a sweet rancio wine from Escaladei… Trying to copy that idea… that feeling… “how something apparently imperfect can hold so much beauty.”
– Being outside the rules, as an exception, whether it is in the world of wine, or in general. This means creating a unique profile, even with respect to design, set the difference between what you do and what the other people do. “This is what you do at Mas Martinet, you work hard speaking of the concept or what you intend to do.” And that must be reflected in a label because, if the product followed the rules too much, we were including it in a collection of very standardised products.
– The idea of time. We are talking about a product which is not the reflex of a specific harvest or fermentation process. It is a product with a very long, extensive timeframe… because the vintages are very old, and after having gone through different procedures, at a given time, “it is bottled… Therefore, it should not be a contemporary product, because it talks about very old concepts.” This time concept should be included in the design.
Having these three main concepts into account, there was another question. The specific visual tradition that this kind of rancio, sweet wines… use to have. The golden tones… images with a strange part, “they aren’t usually products with predominance of elegance or rigour in their design. They tend to be very vintage or old items.”
And in this context, we start working. In order to start a project, Joan Josep and his team create visual ideas, inspired by “existing referents in order to configurate a piece which works in the same symbolic universe, but which is different.” In this case, the process was slightly different, because the product was so special that there wasn’t any similar context or “we couldn’t find it,” says “Joanji”. They started designing, and then they realised that the project could be explained through the design. Letters getting bigger and smaller, letters which, in a very abstract but precise way, explain the vintage system, the pouring process from the big barrel into the small barrel, the decantation process… like a visual game which let us create a big identity. A stepped design which explained the nature of the product and its production. And also choosing a special font “when we talk about non-precision, we are talking about non-precision in a very precise way, we know well, you and us, we know well what we are doing.” A font designed not long ago, but which looks back and let them encapsulate this concept.
“A friend of mine, whom I love very much, with whom I studied, one day, he was looking at us while we were working, […] and he told me: ‘You do the opposite of what a lot of people do, which is trying to summarise a very simple idea so that it is understood very quickly.’ He said: ‘What you do is a semantic haze, or… semantic clouds… And these semantic clouds are like a group of ideas… like vectors at many levels, where there is the wine culture, the territory, your personality, or Josep Lluis’s and Montse’s personalities…. there are a thousand layers, and what you try, when you are making a piece, is to have a general representation of all this’.”
The composition process began: font, images, colour… “Talking about colours, […] we also worked with weird, bright colours, a curious chromatic combination.”
After a first wave of sketches, Sara asked me to go deeper, and then a second wave came, which produced the piece as it is now, as we know it today.
Another distinctive feature of the project was that, as the print run was very short, the same label size should work for two different-sized bottles. And this is how this problem was solved.
“The piece has a risk factor. It is daring from an historical approach, from an interpretation… which is finally filtered by us. It is as if you represented a label which was designed 80 years ago by contemporary people. In the end, it is like an imaginary person, but it is also what you are doing in the winery, which is […] or you try to think about those wines from 100 or 120 years ago which didn’t reach you because they weren’t bottled… but you can imagine, in the winery, how they were made, which expression they could have […] or you want to reproduce them nowadays.
After all, a label design “is like a cocreation between the winery and us […]. We don’t have the answer to everything. We pave the way so that, with your own eyes, we can get further… We are the messengers of your message, interpreters. We don’t invent, we create on your own creation.”

Thank you, Joan Josep Bertran, for taking the time to talk with us.

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I come from the south, from a warm territory, a territory rich in history.

I was ten years old when I tried a ranci wine for the first time. I went with my father to a meeting with Assumpció Peyra from Escaladei. From the physical and emotional height of childhood, the wine cellar looked old, humid, dark and cold, and the lively discussions between Assumpció and my father were like aggressive elements. I was scared and too bored. After a while, which felt like an eternity, Assumpció invited us to visit la Sala dels Àngels (“the Angels Room”). It was an exciting space, even older than the rest of the wine cellar, and which emitted the emanations and scents from other generations: the room of rancio wines. She let me try a barrel of 1964, a sweet ranci wine. I fell in love with it, it took my fear away, it cheered me up, and it made me feel like home, protected.

I thought that, if one day I was going to be in the wine production business, I would make a wine like that one.

In the summer of 1995, already working in Mas Martinet and helping my father, I stayed for some months in the Peralada Castle preparing the new wine laboratory. During the long summer afternoons of July, I went for a walk around the vineyards of Pau, Garriguella and nearby just to not lose contact with a nature that, for me, was necessary and addictive. I went to visit a peasant farmer with whom I talked about life, about the profession and about memory, and the last day of my stay in Empordà, he came to say goodbye to me with a special bottle from his winery.

It was a sweet rancio wine. Once again, I felt protected, caressed by many generations. I felt like home.

I remembered the promise made in Escaladei in November of 1982. Then, that September of 1995, the Martinet Ranci Dolç was born, but I wasn’t aware of it yet.

Almost 20 years have gone by to show us, maybe our less representative wine as a wine company, but which carries the soul and the history of Priorat.

Rancio wines are wines made to receive, to thank, to share. We put them on the table for Festa Major, for harvests celebrations, for the birth of a child, and we can enjoy them because many generations have taken care of that first barrel.

Being successors of a long history which represents us makes us feel more rooted and able to thank and pay tribute to those generations that have made it possible for us to be here today.

Sara Pérez
Mas Martinet

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The pandemic has made us rethink some things and especially prioritize. We know that nothing is forever and that overnight, everything can change. So we need to focus our gaze and change perspective.

It’s been a long time since we thought we should make a website. Yes, we know… we still didn’t have any. And finally, it’s here, we already have it!

It is a simple website, an introduction to the winery, the products and our philosophy. And, most importantly, where you are now, the blog: a space to delve into all those topics that we think may be of interest to share with all of you.
A place we will use to explain what we believe in and why. What we do and how we do it. Who we are and what we spend our time on. Articles, videos, photos, interviews… different formats and different narrators. We and others in tune with us. And all with a common goal: to make you feel part of us too!

Welcome to Mas Martinet blog!