What is art? It’s visuals, say the trio of invaluables – Hockney, Jakober and Stella, no less – in the lobby of MAS D’EN BRUNO in the Priorat wine area 90 minutes’ drive south-west of Barcelona. It’s touchables, say the Gaudi-like protrusions at one of Priorat’s top wineries, Perinet, above (the phallic-like sculptures cover air vents from the subterranean barrel storage room, which incidentally also has a Gaudi feel, and will shortly find space among the many thousands of filled new French oak barrels for a wedding of 250, including the ceremony).
Art is also in potables, and how they are made. There are said to be over 160 wineries in the Priorat DOQ region near Barcelona, and the most prolific grapes are Garnatxa and Carinyena, with Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrrah following proudly. Perinet is one of the most significant wineries. Now owned by Napa Valley’s powerful Alpha Omega Collective, led by Robin Baggett, one of the key Perinet players appears to be ‘Toni’, Professor Antoni Sànchez-Ortiz, winemaker and mentor who has also worked in Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Perinet’s CEO, Sheri Perricone – a Toronto ball of fire, doing something in Canada’s financials but she came to Spain 16 years ago and never left – says she learns from Toni every day.
The CEO delights in a fairground-thrill welcome, driving you up incredibly steep terraces to explain how proximity to the Mediterranean and its breezes affect the grapes. It’s roller-coaster concentration. Hold on to the skeleton-only 4×4 while trying to absorb her words of wisdom. Later, see conveyor belts of grapes, all picked by hand, being checked, and mechanically lifted by overhead cranes into large stainless vats. Later, the nectar is put into barrels. The CEO leads a pipette tasting of some of her favourites, and later presents bottles of 2018 Carinyena Pendents for actual drinking, outside, under a full moon, and Jupiter, looking down at Mas d’en Bruno.
Perinet is one of Mas d’en Bruno’s vintner partners. When it opens officially April 2024 its concept store will have a circular staircase leading down to a bodegas. Buy, and taste, wines, and store them in safe lockers, there at Mas d’en Bruno. Another of the partners is Clos de l’Obac, a personal love story of former journalist Carles Pastrana and his wife. At this winery, on the outskirts of a fairytale village, you may be welcomed by an introduction to a vertical panel in the main office wall. The panel opens as a door, three wood steps come down, and you go up, into a speakeasy tasting room, books and art and tables set with glasses and tasting sheets. The finale here was a sweet red, Dolc de l’Obac 2011. Heaven with small chocolate squares made by the wife of Mas d’en Bruno’s chef.
Which leads to yet another art form, the edibles at Mas d’en Bruno. What can one say – the sautéed boletus, the baby goat shoulder, or what? Watch Girlahead come back for more, and more, and no, greed is not an art form.