There are many winemakers visiting our state but few are as anticipated as Anthony Bell of Bell Wine Cellars. Bell’s relationship to Arkansas has been many years in the making. He always brings his infectious personality along with his compelling wines, making his arrival more than just a tasting; for many it feels like a welcome visit with an old friend. This past week we were honored to once again have him taste with us, dine with us and, more importantly, share his remarkable craft.
The wines from Bell Wine Cellars are a perfect lesson in “terroir,” a French term used to refer to the unique characteristics of the environment in which the grapevine grows. It includes the soil, climate, and influences around the vineyard such as bodies of water, mountains, even the clone used. (A clone is a vine created from a cutting from an existing vine.) This interaction of climate has even more layers of expression, from the macroclimate (a larger area) to the mesoclimate (a smaller subsection of a region) to the individual microclimate of a specific vineyard or even a row of grapevines in the vineyard.
Instead of using the word “terroir,” Bell likes to say his wines showcase a grape’s “sense of place.” His philosophy is “wine is grown in the vineyard” and “we are merely stewards of nature while the wine is in our cellar.” Whether the syrah from the Canterbury vineyard or the cabernet sauvignon from the Longtable vineyard, each of the wines from Bell Wine Cellars offer the utmost expression of where the grapes were grown. Most of Bell’s wines are produced in small lots, displaying their true qualities and intention of the winemaker. He prides his growing technique to many microclimate vineyards.
Once Bell’s grapes obtain their sense of place, Bell transforms the wines into an expressive winemaking style he has become known for. The Bell wines offer sophistication of an Old World-style wine but with the power of the terroir-driven characteristics known with benchmark California wines. He strives to find the balance of fruit, acid, oak and tannins in the production of each of his varietals.
We are fortunate to have these limited-production, handcrafted wines in our state.
- 2015 Bell Lake County Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $16 retail)
- 2013 Bell Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $55 retail)