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Heritance Wines


One of the pioneers of the Napa Valley wine industry

It is seldom than 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 sold produce 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.When Portet finally retired from his position as Co-founder, Vice-Chairman and Winemaker at Clos du Val Winery near the end of 2008, he had no idea he would reenter the wine business as soon as 2010. A chance meeting with Don Chase, a former executive with a number of California wineries, provided Portet with an opportunity to start a new winery with his close friend.

“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,” Portet explained. The new endeavor became Heritance, an amalgam of both ‘heritance’ 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.

“I was quite happy with the way it was received,” Portet revealed. Heritance Wines’ style is modeled after the classic "Old World" and 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 friendy and easy to consume.

“We have had a great reception for our wines in fine restaurants throughout the country,” Portet’s partner in Heritance Wines, Don Chase, added. “These places tend to know good food pairings and are appreciative of our style of wines.” Now in its sixth year, Heritance Wines has become well respected for its dignified wines and authentic style.

Portet is happy he’s 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,” Portet finished.

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.


  1. Heritance
    2011 Pinot Noir
    Heritance
    1 - 9 - 4
    Napa Valley

    $39.00

    $45.00
    90 - The Tasting Panel
    id: 2310
    Pinot Noir

Bernard Portet a true Pioneer

Bernard Portet is considered to be one of the pioneers of the Napa Valley wine industry, and continues to make a name for himself with the wonderful wines of Heritance.

When he started the brand in 2010, Portet decided to use his signature assemblage winemaking style, in which he blends different lots of wine to craft a finished wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. The diversity of vineyard and varietal components from various Napa Valley sources has provided him an ideal opportunity to showcase this assemblage style and create uniquely distinctive wines for the Heritance brand.

While he continues to utilize the assemblage style, Portet has also began crafting tiny batches of vineyard-designated wines. There may only be a few barrels made of these new wines, and they may not be produced each year, but the selection process is rigorous and the lots will only be set aside when deemed truly exceptional. The first, but certainly not the last, of these special vineyard-designated offerings is this month's featured 2011 Pinot Noir from the famed Stanly Ranch in Carneros, Napa Valley.

Portet certainly has an appreciation for the distinctive winegrowing regions of Napa Valley, and combining that with his artistic winemaking style, he takes the idea of terrior to an exciting new level.

About The Region

First planted in the late 1800's, the historic Stanly Ranch is located in the south-eastern part of the Carneros region of Napa Valley. The vineyard holds an important distinction in the modern viticultural history of Carneros, with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clonal trials conducted there in the 1950's by Louis Martini, the Wente family, and UC Davis. Today, Stanly Ranch is home to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir clones that originated STOREthis assemblage style and create uniquely distinctive wines for the Heritance brand.
While he continues to utilize the assemblage style, Portet has also began crafting tiny batches of vineyard-designated wines. There may only be a few barrels made of these new wines, and they may not be produced each year, but the selection process is rigorous and the lots will only be set aside when deemed truly exceptional. The first, but certainly not the last, of these special vineyard-designated offerings is this month's featured 2011 Pinot Noir from the famed Stanly Ranch in Carneros, Napa Valley.
Portet certainly has an appreciation for the distinctive winegrowing regions of Napa Valley, and combining that with his artistic winemaking style, he takes the idea of terrior to an exciting new level.


Grilled Lamb Chops with Peperonata


Ingredients

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for brushing
6 oil-packed anchovies, finely chopped
3 red or yellow bell peppers
(about 1 1/4 lbs), thinly sliced
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Scant 1/2 cup golden raisins
2 Tbsp drained capers
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar mixed with
3/4 cup of water
Salt & freshly ground pepper
8 small lamb chops (5 to 6 oz. each)


Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large, deep skillet, heat the 1/3 cup of olive oil until shimmering. Add the anchovies and cook over high heat, stirring, until dissolved, about 1 min. Add the peppers, onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, about 10 min. Stir in the raisins, capers and sugar. Add the vinegar mixture and simmer over low heat until the peppers are very tender and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 min. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Heat a cast-iron grill pan until very hot. Brush the lamb chops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the chops over high heat until they are lightly charred, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the grill pan to the oven and roast chops for 3 minutes for medium meat. Serve the lamb chops with peperonata. Recipe provided by Heritance Wines.




Grilled Beets with Blue Cheese


Ingredients

2-3 bunches of the beets of your choice (about a dozen). We like Chioggia or Golden Beets
1/4 cup and 1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup of Heritance Pinot Noir
1 tsp of Worcestershire
Either 1 tsp dried, or 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley


Instructions

Clean and remove tops/bottoms from beets. Peel them and cut into uniform thickness slices - about 1/8-1/4 of an inch.

In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt, pepper, Pinot Noir and Worcestershire, and dried or fresh thyme. Toss beets in mixture until thoroughly covered.
Heat grill to medium hot - not open flame or so hot you can't hold your hand over the grate for a few seconds. Place beets on grill from the bowl. When bowl is empty and beets are on the grill, rinse bowl and return to side of grill. Cook beets 10 minutes (until grill marks on first side, and tender after turning).

After grilling, place beets back in bowl originally used to toss and add another Tbsp of olive oil, and the blue cheese. Toss. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve warm, or can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature. Recipe provided by Heritance Wines.



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