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Uncorked: Superman and super wines from Revana

Dr. Madaiah Revana, a cardiologist in Houston, is the owner of three wineries: Revana, Alexana and Corazon del Sol.
Dr. Madaiah Revana, a cardiologist in Houston, is the owner of three wineries: Revana, Alexana and Corazon del Sol.

Superman wasn’t on a motorcycle ride.

But as John Gabelhausen drove toward the Bodega Corazon del Sol vineyards outside of Mendoza, Argentina, that’s exactly what a pair of riders looked like. With cars buzzing by at high speeds, two riders lay across their motorcycle seats, arms and legs stretched out wide as if they were flying.

Just as Gabelhausen said that Ruta 40 was “the most dangerous road he’s seen,” superman shows up on the video, at high speeds and making turns with one hand on the handlebars.

The president of Revana Wines recorded the event for “The Wine Beat,” his globe-trotting YouTube channel that chronicles his adventures through the wine world for Revana, Alexana and Corazon del Sol, three wineries owned by Houston cardiologist Dr. Madaiah Revana.

All three wineries have planted deep roots where they are located with vineyard ownership and brick and mortar wineries. It’s the namesake winery in Napa that found the last parcel of land on the valley floor, and the tiny sliver has turned out amazing wines.  

Winemaker spotlight

It was a quiet time at the winery, as Gabelhausen was reached by phone last Tuesday. Wines are put to barrel, they are done with blends and a April bottling is but a glimmer of light on the horizon.

The excitement about the wine from the 2018 Napa Valley harvest is palpable, though.

“We have 9 acres that we’ve been able to finetune into something special,” Gabelhausen said. “Last vintage was the perfect balance. The way the wines have evolved, I’d say they are one of the top of the last 10 vintages. The clarity, balance, depth, structure are all there. We harvested clean fruit at optimal temperatures.”

Located in an ideal setting with talented winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown calling the shots, Revana’s Cabernet Sauvignon is consistently fantastic. The Revana Terroir Series 2012 ($85) had dusty coffee ground, thyme, bay leaf and dark chocolate aromas that gave way to cassis anise and cedar flavors with an elegant finish that endured.

With the 2015, there’s a darker more extracted blackberry flavor that comes through along with a cigar wrapper and spice rack note. It’s an intriguing, complex wine.

“Thomas has a fascinating sense of what to do in the vineyards and knows how to translate what that site represents,” Gabelhausen said. “He’s calm, rational, patient and knows what to do. He’s down to earth, approachable and is just a cool guy.”

While Gabelhausen said “he’s the luckiest guy in the wine business,” because he’s able to oversee operations on two continents and in two different U.S. states, that doesn’t mean he’s without challenges.

At Bodega Corazon del Sol, the vineyards are 3,600 feet above sea level on a river bed at the base of the Andes. It took four years to get the vineyards online and a second planting of vines. There’s a 5 percent failure rate in the U.S., but in Argentina 20 percent of the original planting died in the 17-acre rocky area.

Yet, they remained dedicated to the site and the potential it held.

“We’ve made California Cabernet Sauvignon for 20 years and feel like we are starting to know how to do it there and in Oregon,” Gabelhausen said. “But, Argentina requires us to look through a different lens. We think about how to farm, ferment and use oak differently.”

So, what could be next for Revana?

“We are not always looking,” Gabelhausen said. “It has to be a situation that feels right both emotionally and financially. We’ve got three wineries that don’t compete, they complement each other. It all makes sense.”

• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for the Daily Chronicle. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at

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