Yettalil: Clos du Val’s Flagship Wine Marries Elegance with Subtle Power

When considering a name for their new flagship Bordeaux-style blend, Clos du Val’s Goelet family looked to their winery’s founding matriarch, Henrietta “Yettalil” Goelet. Henrietta was known by friends and family as Yetta, and Henrietta’s husband John lovingly called her Yettalil. The couple founded their Napa Valley winery in 1972 after a global search for the best vineyard land on which to grow Cabernet Sauvignon. That search led to the heart of Napa’s Stags Leap District where they soon began production of the Bordeaux-style wines they so loved—wines such as Yettalil, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.

2021 Yettalil

Over the last half century, Clos du Val has seen three generations of Goelet family ownership. The winery is now owned by John and Henrietta’s six grandchildren, of whom third generation Olav Goelet serves as Chief Executive Officer. “Over the last five years, we’ve been on a journey to recapture the identity of the winery and the legacy my grandparents and founding winemaker Bernard Portet created,” says Olav. “And my grandmother’s grace, elegance, and subtle strength make her the perfect namesake for our flagship wine.”

Unbound by the constraints of a single varietal, Yettalil (SRP $200) is the fullest expression of Clos du Val’s Stags Leap District Estate and a beacon of their winemaking ethos. Showcasing the finest fruit of the winery’s 120-acre Hirondelle Estate vineyard, Yettalil marries elegance with subtle power. The 2021 Yettalil opens with expressive aromas of black cherry, cassis, fresh thyme, and spice. The first sip gives way to a beautifully balanced palate of vibrant acidity, polished tannins, and a plush texture. A core of concentrated raspberry, dark chocolate, and black tea notes culminates in a long, smooth finish. The wine is approachable upon release, and can also be enjoyed for many years to come.

Clos du Val Hirondelle House and estate vineyard

“With Yettalil, we are looking to make a terroir-driven wine that will best showcase our Stags Leap District fruit and climate, while staying true to our style,” says Clos du Val Winemaker Carmel Greenberg, who joined the winery team in the summer of 2021 just in time for fall harvest. Greenberg grew up in Israel and was the assistant winemaker at Dominus for just more than five years before moving to Clos du Val. She spent time at Buccella and Cakebread as well.

Clos du Val Winemaker Carmel Greenberg. Photo by Mike Larson Photography

Greenberg is shaping Clos du Val’s wine style and direction, that of fresh, elegant, Bordeaux-inspired, timeless wines. “These are more than our guiding principles in the cellar; they are what you will find in every bottle of Clos du Val wine, whether you enjoy it today or in years to come,” says Olav. “Having set the course for our next 50 years, we approach all our actions and choices through a lens of chasing the highest quality outcome possible. Sharing the purity of fruit that can be achieved from our vineyards while ensuring we not only sustain but improve the health and vitality of the land we steward.”

Clos du Val Hirondelle House tasting room

Visitors to Clos du Val are surrounded by the verdant sights and sounds of the vineyard as they taste through the winery’s portfolio of current and library releases. A variety of experiences are offered, such as the Taste of Clos Du Val tasting that provides a perfect introduction to three of the winery’s classics. The Hirondelle House Tasting of current release wines is served with seasonal dip, crudité and crackers. The Retrospective Decade Tasting allows for a dive into 10, 20, 30, and 40-year releases, accompanied by artisan cheeses and charcuterie. And the Past, Present, Future Yettalil Immersion Tasting provides an exploration of the winery’s flagship blend via a guided cellar tour and exclusive barrel tasting of a future vintage.

“As a family-owned winery, we want people to feel like they are joining us in our home, not our workplace,” adds Olav. “If they feel well taken care of, and the time of the day has suddenly slipped away, then we have succeeded.”

Photos courtesy of Clos du Val

Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is an experienced travel, wine, and general feature writer for a variety of luxury lifestyle publications and websites. Prior to her journalism career she established and managed the Golden State Warriors' first official community relations department and efforts. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtfully eloquent writing. When not traveling, she can be found walking her Northern California neighborhood with her beloved golden retriever Nate.