I had a great Wednesday night. Temecula Wine Company hosted a tasting of Bell wines of Napa Valley. The winemaker himself was the one talking us through the wines, making it a special treat, Anthony Bell grew up on, as he called it, a “wine farm” in South Africa. He came to America to attend
UC Davis and eventually became the assistant winemaker at Beaulieu Vineyard in Napa Valley. In 1991 he began Bell Vineyards. His goal is to make wines that are perfectly balanced, and taste of the varietal. The wines we tasted were a good indication that he has achieved that goal.
We tried six different wines. The Sauvignon Blanc tasted minerally and crisp but not overly acidic. The Chardonnay was only lightly oaked, so the flavor of the grape came through. The real surprise was the Merlot. I am cautious about Merlot because it is often over processed and flabby, or too green and thin. Bell’s Merlot was nicely structured, with bright cherry flavors and a full flavor profile. The Claret was pleasant, with a fruity start and a sophisticated finish. The Syrah was very easy to drink. Someone asked if Syrah was for women, and Cabernet was for men. This person referred to Syrah as “Cab Lite”. I had no idea that I only liked Syrah because I was genetically predisposed to it. Bell answered, “Everyone understands ‘yummy’. Syrah is a good tasting wine.” I felt better about liking it so much after that. The final wine we tried was a blend called “Sonnette”. It was soft and had just a touch of earthiness to it.
The whole atmosphere was warm and relaxed. People were friendly and asked questions about the wine. Bell was interesting and informative. His passion was evident when, after every varietal he asked, “How’s the wine?” Dan Atwood has created a wonderful place to gather and spend time. It was a delightful evening.
Review by: Bethany Rogers
Photos by: Ashley Edmonds of Ashley Edmonds Photography