free run juice

a classic gentleman and his killer wine

“My father was a classic gentleman.” This is what Bernard Portet said about his dad, who was the technical director at Château Lafite in Bordeaux back int he day, while we tasted his wines. Well, the grape doesn’t fall far from the vine.

Bernard is French, charming (obviously), and a Napa legend who has made amazing wine on four continents. He co-founded Clos du Val in Napa in the 70s and poured us some of the Heritance wines he’s now making. Two Sauvignon Blancs – one with a tiny bit of Semillon blended in, the other with some Roussanne which is a pretty rare grape for Napa. Both had a great grapefruity nose, but I actually like the Semillon one better ($24) – less waxy than the Roussanne influence.

heritance sauvignon blanc

Then we got on to some killer reds. Pinot Noir from Stanly Ranch in Carneros  ($45) – I’ve only had a few Stanly Ranch wines, but love all of them. This Pinot was earthy, black cherry and minty.heritance pinot noir

We had two Cabs – a 2008 ($36) and an amazing 2010 (not out yet). I’ve said before I could sit and smell certain wines for hours and the 2010 was one of those – so herbal and awesome!heritance cabernet

I was happy enough with all that, but Bernard had one more up his sleeve (well, actually it was just on the table but you know what I mean). At the end of our tasting, he poured out a Clos du Val from the vault – 1975 Cabernet. He was charming enough to say it was older than I was. It’s not every day I drink a wine that old and that good, layers on layers and the fruit wasn’t obvious.clos du val 1975

Over that phenomenal bottle, we got into a great conversation about family roots and the younger generation, who we’re both a little worried about. After telling him about grapefriend and that I’ve worked in the youth market and will soon be writing about wine for Cosmo, he took my card and emailed me two hours later to tell me he bought a Cosmo at Penn Station. I love it! We will save everyone through grapes!

Awesome guy, fantastic wines, what a life.


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