- a rock ‘n’ roll star or celebrity.
- a star or celebrity in any field or profession, or anything highly admired: TV chefs are the new rock stars.
There is something that occurs when winemaker Anthony Bell visits our state. There’s no other way to explain it other than there’s an excitement in the air.
Some are eager to hear of his Napa Valley adventures, and for others, like me, it’s the chance to see a longtime friend.
At a tasting event with Bell recently, I watched him visit with guests in his humble, soft-spoken manner. Likely few people there knew how he has influenced the business.
Bell’s early career sometimes goes unnoticed because of our appreciation of his current wines’ stellar status. But it was in those early years that Bell contributed to and helped mold what most consider today’s Napa Valley wine culture. In 1979, Bell joined Beaulieu Vineyards as assistant winemaker and viticulturist. He was responsible for Beaulieu Vineyards’ extraordinary and iconic Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet for 15 vintages. During his time at Beaulieu, he became involved in many projects, from the creation of the Los Carneors American Viticultural Area to collaboration on the Rutherford, Oakville and Yountville appellations (areas where wine grapes are grown).
During the 1980s, Bell began designing the first Cabernet clonal evolutions studies. During this time, he introduced the Bordeaux Clone 6 cabernet sauvignon to commercial production after almost 100 years of neglect. The clone was found in an abandoned University of California vineyard. This aspect of his career would lead to years of producing Napa Valley’s first single vineyard, single clone Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 6 in 1991.
As I continue to enjoy Bell Red Blend as my go-to wine and Clone 6 on most special occasions, Bell will always be one of my favorite winemakers and, of course, a dear friend.
- 2015 Bell Red Blend, California (about $17 retail)
- 2016 Bell Lake County Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $17 retail)
- 2014 Bell Syrah Canterbury Vineyards, California (about $28 retail)
- 2014 Bell Yountville Merlot, California (about $46 retail)
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)
Anthony Bell, owner of Bell Winery, recently visited Northwest Arkansas. Bell has been a frequent visitor to Arkansas over the past 10 years and is more often greeted with a hug than a handshake.
He has also, with open arms, shared his winery with visitors to Napa Valley and California wine country. Because of his humble, soft-spoken demeanor you may not be aware of the influence and accomplishments he has had in the American wine industry.
Bell started making a name for himself in the wine world in 1979 when he joined Beaulieu Vineyards as assistant winemaker and viticulturist. He was responsible for Beaulieu’s exceptional Georges de Latour Private Reserve cabernet for 15 vintages, from 1979 to 1994. In those days the Napa Valley culture was not like it is today, with boutique wineries filling the valley. At the time, the industry was dominated by large wineries.
While at Beaulieu Vineyard, Bell was involved in projects and issues that could be described as “total game changers” for the California wine industry, including the creation and designation of the Carneros American Viticultural Area in Napa Valley; the Rutherford, Oakville and Yountville appellations, or designations, as distinct wine areas; work to stop the spread of fan leaf virus disease; cabernet clonal research; and estate wine bottling regulations. All of these ultimately led to the development of Bell Wine Cellars.
Possibly his most well known innovation is his clone research, resulting in today’s well-known Bell Wine Cellars Clone 6. Bell began designing the first cabernet clonal evolutions studies in the 1980s and eventually reintroduced the Bordeaux Clone 6 cabernet sauvignon to commercial production after nearly 100 years of neglect. The neglected clone was found in an abandoned University of California vineyard. Napa Valley’s first single vineyard, single clone Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6 was produced in 1991.
In every wine Anthony Bell produces his focus continues to follow the dedication of each wine’s creation by “its sense of place”– terroir.
- 2012 Big Guy Red, California (about $17 retail)
- 2009 Bell Wine Cellars Clone 6, California (about $109 retail)