|Dec. 4th, 2009|
Bell Wine Cellars, Yountville, California
Cloaked in quiet, off the beaten track and south of Yountville, stands Bell Wine Cellars. The serene stone winery is surrounded by Hopper Slough and by rows of vineyard in all other directions. This is a winery where wine tourers are asked to call first for an appointment, and arriving guests can understand why. There’s a feeling of composure throughout the grounds. A quiet, that allows the wines to speak for themselves.
Born on a wine farm in South Africa, Winemaker Anthony Bell gained an impressive amount of practical and academic experience in Spain, France, South Africa, and California before he formed Bell Wine Cellars with a winegrower nearly two decades ago. Perhaps the most significant point on Anthony’s lengthy resume is his 15-year stint with Beaulieu Vineyard, where he worked alongside the master winemaker André Tchelistcheff. His achievements were many at Beaulieu. Most notably, he wrote the definition of the Carneros appellation, raised the bar on grape quality for the vineyard, and conducted groundbreaking research into the differences and impact of clonal variations on Cabernet Sauvignon.
Today, Anthony’s name is often associated with Clone 6, a clone that Anthony fostered back to productivity after one hundred years of neglect in a former University of California vineyard in Amador County. Anthony found Clone 6 to be so promising he produced Napa Valley’s first single vineyard Clone 6 Cabernet Sauvignon in 1991. Bell Wine Cellars’ Clone 6 Cabernet Sauvignon, grown on the Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard off the Silverado Trail in Rutherford, is consistently a star. The 2005 vintage was recently awarded a 93 by Anthony Dias Blue of The Tasting Panel for its dense, complex, and well-balanced flavors. Quite drinkable now, the wine should age well over the next five to ten years. In addition to Clone 6, Anthony makes four other Cabernet based wines at varying price points. There is Talianna, a proprietary blend of Clone 6 and Syrah; Sonnette, a vintage-driven Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot; Napa Valley Cabernet, an Old World-style blend of four clones featuring an attractive, midrange price; and the Claret, a New World-style Cabernet blend. In addition to Petit Verdot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and a delightful dry Rosé, Anthony produces Merlot and Chardonnay off the winery estate, as well as individual bottlings of the four Cabernet clones he works with.
Although all of Anthony’s wines receive high praise, he is most often associated with the development of Rutherford Cabernet. “Rutherford Cabernet is not linear, but layered, and very seductive,” Anthony says. “The wines don’t express themselves at first taste, the tannins carry the wines. They are firm, but they don’t bite.”
Long before it became fashionable to talk about terroir, Anthony was exploring its nuances. At the 2005 Grand Harvest Awards sponsored by Vineyards & Winery Management magazine, the Bell 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, was selected as most representative of the Napa Valley terroir. Yet Anthony is not one to rest on his laurels. He likes to make it a point to be on hand to greet tasting room guests, and sometimes pour and talk about wine.
WHAT TO BUY:
’07 Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County Fresh citrus, mineral, hints of fresh grass, long finish $15
’06 Syrah, Sierra Foothills Rich, round, spicy, peppery fruit, soft, luscious finish $26
’05 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Rich, ripe cherry, cassis, blackberry, supple tannins $40
’05 Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 6, Rutherford, Napa Valley Black cherry, currant, blackberry, chocolate, coffee, pepper, vanilla $90
707.944.1673; Fax: 707.944.1674
6200 Washington St.
Yountville, CA 94599
Tasting Room Open Daily by Appointment 10-4
From Hwy 29 in Yountville, head east on California Dr. Turn right onto Washington St. The winery is on the left.
Touring and Tasting