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Heritance


Making wines with an appreciation for terrior.

A chance meeting with Don Chase, a former executive with a number of California wineries including Clos du Val, provided Portet with an opportunity to start Heritance Winery with his close friend.

“I was missing the wine business,” Portet confessed during a recent interview. “Don wanted to start a new wine venture and insisted that I be part of it. We got together and decided to go for it.”

The new endeavor became Heritance, an amalgam of both ‘heritage’ and ‘inheritance,’ a pair of significant words in the life of Bernard Portet. Plans were made and grapes were purchased for the winery’s first release, a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon.

“We produced some 3,000 cases of our first release,” he related. “And I was quite happy with the way it was received. My style of winemaking has gone in and out of favor, but I always stuck to what I knew was best for me. I also want to be able to enjoy my wines personally, so I made them the way I wanted.”

Heritance winery’s style is modeled after the classic Bordeaux style that combines fruit and elegance in the bottle. Contrasted to some of the modern behemoths that feature higher alcohol and very fruit forward wines, Heritance offers an excellent representation of well-made wines that are very food friendly and easy to consume.

This year, a total of around 7,000 cases of Heritance wines will be produced, with an idea of even more for the future.

“It is our goal to produce somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 cases annually,” Portet confirmed. “Realistically, we are looking at two to three years to accomplish this goal.”

The Heritance Winery operation generally refers to itself as the ‘winery without walls’, denoting the fact that its wines are produced in private facilities. “This method gives us optimum flexibility to make some really fine wines,” Portet explained. “I am able to choose from whichever vineyards I want and don’t have to make use of fruit from disappointing years. We feel it’s a win-win situation both for us and for the consumer.”

Portet, along with his four decades at Clos du Val, has won legions of admirers for his style of wines and their classical approach to the palate. The fact that Portet is back making splendid wines again is a definite plus for many wine consumers.

“I feel comfortable with my winemaking philosophy and will continue to produce wines that people can actually enjoy,” he continued.

Heritance Winery’s labels are simple and uncomplicated in keeping with their owner’s personal objectives. Enjoy!


  1. Heritance
    2011 Sauvignon Blanc
    Heritance
    1-9-4
    Napa Valley

    $7.99

    Was $18.00
    $24.00
    90 - Tasting Panel
    id: 2204
    Sale
    Gold

Bernard Portet

Since Bernard Portet has been a world-class winemaker for more than four decades, his reputation speaks for itself. His background (Cognac and Bordeaux) is classic and his wines have garnered more accolades than many of his younger counterparts put together. His approach is from the classic side, extolling the virtues of terroir and traditional winemaking.

Portet utilizes a method of winemaking called assemblage that is used in preparing each of the winery’s final releases. Wines from different vineyards throughout Napa valley and elsewhere, are blended together to produce a finished product that rises above its individual components. The axiom ‘the wine is far more than the sum of its parts’ can certainly be applied to all of the winery’s releases.

Bernard Portet

It is seldom that anyone can claim to be a ‘ninth-generation’ anything, much less a world-renowned member of one of France’s great winemaking families. Bernard Portet, 69, is such a man.

Portet can trace his roots back to 1698, or further. “Most of the records before the French Revolution were lost in church fires and the like,” he explained. “But my family has been making wine since the beginning of the 18th Century as far as we know.”

Portet himself was born in Cognac, just north of Bordeaux. His father Andre had vineyards there that they sold fruit from to the big Cognac houses that was made into the internationally acclaimed brandy that bears the town’s name.

In 1955, Andre Portet was appointed regisseur (estate manager) for the heralded Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Pauillac, one of the historic communes above Bordeaux. Chateau Lafite, as it is popularly known, is still considered one of the premier wines in the entire world.

Bernard Portet remembers walking the vineyards of Lafite as a youth with his father. “My father would explain why Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in a particular spot and why Merlot preferred a cooler environment. At the time I wasn’t really sure why the terroir made such a difference to the wines.”

After completing high school, Bernard studied agronomy, viticulture and enology at universities in Toulouse and Montpelier. A trip in 1968 to California’s Napa Valley changed his life forever. Impressed by the similarities of Napa Valley and French growing regions, Portet took a job two years later to establish a world-class winery that was to become known as Clos du Val Winery.

He selected property in the then unknown region known as Stag’s Leap District in the southern region of Napa Valley. Stag’s Leap was a relatively cool growing place that seemed perfect for cultivating the type of grapes that fit Portet’s winemaking style.

By picking grapes at relatively low sugar levels, Portet was able to control the balance and acidity of his wines. Consumers and publications alike marveled at his early wines and their classic Bordeaux style. Medals came raining down and Clos du Val was a remarkable success.

By the early 1990’s, wine critics began advocating super-ripe, heavily extracted wines that were usually very high in alcohol.

Bernard Portet flatly refused to alter his winemaking style one bit.

“Those wines are not my style,” he often stated. “Why make Merlots that taste like Syrahs? Where’s the charm? I think that big, alcoholic wines overpower the palate. They also sacrifice varietal and regional typicity, as well as complexity.’’

Now that the pendulum has switched back to Portet’s style of balanced wines that offer a sense of place, Bernard Portet is again the much-revered winemaker.

“I think that the wine trade has become more receptive in the past few years to more refined wines that complement food well,” Portet’s partner in Heritance Winery, Don Chase, added. “We have had a great reception for our wines in fine restaurants throughout the country. These places tend to know good food pairings and are appreciative of our style of wines.”

But, Bernard Portet is not the last in his family to enjoy the fruits of the wine business. His son, Olivier has followed his father into the business and has served as marketing director for the venture since its inception.

“Olivier was born into the wine business, just as I was and all the generations before us. It’s in his blood just as it is in mine. I hope he is successful and carries on the family tradition for many years.”

Bernard Portet is a throwback to the early Napa Valley pioneers that carved out their careers during periods when wine wasn’t an everyday word. He has stuck to his guns and refused to concede his winemaking philosophy to anyone or anything.

His new venture with Heritance Winery brings new wines to the arena – wines that are friendly and dignified. His wines have also been called smooth and suave, yet brimming with authentic Napa Valley’s savory flavor.

Bernard Portet contends that he is a simple, humble man, much in the tradition of his fathers and ancestors. Since the Portet Family has been at it more than 314 years, and possibly even longer, history seems to be in their favor.

About The Region

The grapes for Heritance Winery can be sourced from anywhere in California, but in fact, almost all of the fruit chosen for the wines is derived from the confines of the Napa Valley. Since Napa Valley possesses an unusually large number of microclimates that produce a varied selection of grapes, Heritance Winery buys the best possible fruit from each source.

Owner and winemaker Bernard Portet firmly believes that the varying soils, sub-soils and temperature variations throughout Napa Valley provide an abundant assortment of grape varietals that are perfect for his particular style of winemaking (see assemblage in Winemaker section). Enduring relationships developed over more than four decades in Napa valley assure Portet that he will receive his choice of grapes that are sometimes even grown to his exacting specifications.


Salmon Rillette


Ingredients

8 oz. smoked salmon, small dice
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 Tbs. mascarpone cheese
1 lemon, juiced
1 ½ lemon, zested
¼ cup capers, minced
1 tsp. caper juice
2 Tbs. shallots, finely minced
¼ cup fresh chives, minced
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

Salmon Poaching Ingredients:
3 ribs celery
½ onion, medium-julienne cut
2 carrots, cut in half lengthwise
1 ¼ lb. salmon filet, skinless (3 filets)
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
3 Tbs. butter, room temperature (place 1 Tbs. atop each salmon filet after seasoning with salt & pepper)
3 lemon slices, ¼” thickness
1 cup Heritance Sauvignon Blanc
½ cup water


Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a large baking dish atop the stove. Line the bottom of the dish with celery, onions and carrot. Place the seasoned salmon filets on top of the vegetables; spread the butter evenly on top of each salmon filet. Place the lemon slice in the center of the salmon filet. Add the wine and water to the baking dish, turn heat to high, and bring the liquid to a simmer. Once at a simmer, cover with lid or aluminum foil and place in oven to poach. Cook to med-rare, about 6-8 min.

Immediately remove from the oven, remove cover and allow the salmon to cool to touch. Remove the salmon from the baking dish; strain the poaching liquid into a small saucepot. Reduce this liquid by 50%. Once the cooking liquid is reduced, remove from heat and cool to room temp. and reserve for final assembly. (Discard the poaching vegetables)

Remove any pin bones from the salmon and break the fish up into medium-size chunks into a large mixing bowl. Add the smoked salmon and fold together. Then fold in the mayonnaise, mascarpone cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, capers with juice, shallots, chives, and the reserved poaching liquid. Mix gently to ensure the poached salmon chunks are not turned into mush; season with salt & pepper. Once all ingredients are incorporated, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Refrigerate immediately.



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