bernard portet
Winemaker Bernard Portet  made history when the first Clos du Val  vintage in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District came 8th in the legendary Judgement of Paris in 1972, and when the same ‘72 vintage came out on top  at the 1986 rematch. Now after four decades as the co-founder and presiding winemaker at Clos du Val Winery, it looks like his idea of retirement is not confined to a boat or a golf course. His idea of retirement is actually to continue making wine. Except that, this being the 21st century, he does it from “a winery without walls” or a virtual winery.   
At a recent tasting in Miami,  the 2010 Ñandú Malbec ($17), the 2008 Heritance Cab ($28) and the 2010 Heritance Sauvignon Blanc ($18) show a consistency of style with mellow fruit and a smooth finish.
 
F&WT         Bernard,  you can be counted among vintners like Warren Winiarski who founded Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Carl Doumani who established Stags’ Leap Winery in 1972,  pioneers who transformed Napa Valley from a sleepy agricultural backwater into a wealthy, world-renowned wine region. Yet you were born in Cognac France from a long line of wine makers. What made you come and stay in Napa Valley?
 
F&WT        How different was working in Napa from working in France?
 
F&WT         Now you make different wines than those you made at Clos du Val,  like Ñandú, an Argentine Malbec you founded in 2004 with your son Olivier. And of course  your own wine brand  Heritance – a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sauvignon Blanc   that have balance, complexity and a long finish — for which you  buy the best grapes from trusted producers. And no winery to give you a headache!            What are the advantages of a winery without walls?
 
F&WT         Your father was technical director at Château Lafite, a grand cru in Bordeaux. So you were born and raised in the vineyard and the wine business.  Is this how you acquired your sense of terroir and your concept that wine is made in the vineyard.?
 
F&WT         where does the name of the label Heritance come from?

Listen to an interview with winemaker Bernard Portet

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