The Hedonistic Taster | № 31 | Bells Up Winery – Willamette Valley, OR.

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 31 | Bells Up Winery – Willamette Valley, OR.

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Tastevin

“Wine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.” – Henri Jayer

Today’s Tasting: Bells Up Winery – Newberg, OR

Sara & David Specter, proprietors of Bells Up Winery in Newberg, OR.

“We all have two lives, and the second begins the moment we realize we only get one.” – Confucius

In another life, winemaker Dave Specter didn’t drive a forklift. Or a tractor. Or make wine in the Willamette Valley.

In a previous life, Dave Specter and his wife Sara suited up, sucked it up, and slugged it out in the corporate Midwest –  the former as an attorney, the latter in advertising.

Until 2008. By then, Sara had endured three miscarriages within 13 months, Dave’s work obligations associated with his law career had devolved into a nightmare, and the couple’s seven-year marriage hung on life-support.

A couple of years earlier, a well-meaning marriage counselor had suggested that they find a ‘couples project’ to help resuscitate their relationship. They chose wine making. That project eventually restored Dave’s equilibrium, recalibrated their relationship, and catapulted the couple across country for a visit to Willamette Valley in 2008.

There, snuggled into a cozy B & B in Newberg, the couple dreamed aloud about someday buying land in the Willamette Valley and making wine professionally.

Shortly after they returned from that trip, Sara’s mentor and friend Kelly was diagnosed with stage-4 pancreatic cancer, which ended her life 10 short months later. Explains Sara, “Kelly’s life, and her fight for it, was a key inspiration for our decision that Dave would leave his career as an attorney and chase the winemaking dream.”

In 2009, events dominoed with alacrity, and irony. Dave gave his notice, and found a professional winemaking mentor in Cincinnati, under whom he worked for three years. After Dave won two amateur national winemaking competitions, the couple sold their home in Ohio, and decamped to Oregon in 2012. Once in the Willamette Valley, while Dave worked a harvest internship at Alexana Winery,  Sara discovered and purchased a site on NE Bell Road in Newberg –  very near the B & B where they’d previously stayed.

The winery name “Bells Up” refers to a specific moment by classical music composers when they instruct French horn players to lift up the bells of their instruments in order to project sound with maximum intensity. Dave, a former French horn player in high school and college, alludes to the winery as his “Bells Up” moment.

I first met Dave and Sara at their winery for an exclusive tasting while in town for IPNC this past summer. These samples include some of their pinot noirs, as well a bonus syrah.

Note about serving Bells Up wines: I highly recommend decanting these wines approximately 30 minutes prior. Like any Burgundy-inspired wines, these require a little time to open up and best reveal their secrets.

Award-winning Bells Up Winery 2014 Titan Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR.

Wine:   Bells Up Titan Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, OR.

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol:  13.5%

Suggested Retail:  $40 (128 cases produced.)

Producer Specs:  “Named for Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major “Titan,” this classic Oregon pinot noir mingles 24% Chehalem Mountains Pommard (25-year-old vines) grown in volcanic Jory soil, with 38% each of Yamhill-Carlton Dijon clones 115 and 777 (15-year-old vines) grown in sedimentary Willakenzie soil. Aged 10 months in French oak, the harmonious result epitomizes 2014’s perfect growing season.”

TASTING NOTES

Robe:  Clear ruby robe.

Nose:  Red fruit aromas – currant, cranberry, raspberry.

Palate: Red fruit notes carry through on the palate. Light body, balanced acids and tannins, light finish.

Suggested Pairings:  This lyrical, light-hearted wine pavanes across the palate with melodious ease. Inspired pairing with pan-seared sea bass, cranberry beans and celery coulis.

Rating: 91

Bells Up 2015 Titan Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR.

Wine:   Bells Up Titan Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, OR.

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  13.3%

Suggested Retail:  $40  (116 cases produced.)

Producer Specs: “The 2015 edition of Bells Up’s flagship Oregon pinot noir mingles 42% Yamhill-Carlton Pommard (6-year-old vines) with 29% each of Yamhill-Carlton Dijon clones 115 and 777 (16-year-old vines), all grown in sedimentary Willakenzie soil. Aged 7 months in French oak (30% new), this bold, fruit-forward, well-structured Pinot is a result of 2015’s extremely hot summer, with 25 days of 95-plus-degree heat during the growing season and very little rain. The small clusters and berries yielded intensified flavors and aromas.”

“Both vineyards/growers [used] are side-by-side on Cooper Lane in Yamhill…Tonnelier Vineyard  and Yamhill Vineyards (also a B&B)…The Pommard came from the one due south of Tonnelier. There’s a bit of a slope but it’s not dramatic. There’s definitely a little micro-climate right there that keeps it a touch cooler.”

TASTING NOTES

Robe:  Clarion ruby robe.

Nose:  Savory black olive, dusty red fruit, potpourri on the nose, with an aromatic back note.

Palate: Red cherry, currant and cranberry carry through from front to mid-palate, with spicy back-palate notes. Light body, well-balanced acids and well-structured tannins, medium finish. Suitable for both early drinking  and cellaring.

Suggested Pairings:  A lovely harmony between dark and light notes, this wine adds coloratura to any meal, spurring lively conversation.

 I’d recommend Bells Up 2015 Titan Pinot Noir for a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, given its savory notes and crescendo of cranberry and spice on the palate.

Rating: 92

 

Bells Up 2015 Firebird Syrah – Summit View Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley AVA (Oregon side.)

Wine: Bells Up Winery Firebird Syrah – Summit View Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley AVA (Oregon side.)

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  15%

Suggested Retail: $36 (70 cases produced.)

Producer Specs: “Released in April and named for Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite,” these grapes were sourced exclusively from Summit View, one of the highest elevation vineyards in Milton-Freewater, Oregon—at 1,150 feet. This site’s vines are rooted in Ellisforde silt loam, a deep, well-drained glacial soil that produces full-bodied fruit with concentrated flavors and vibrant acidity. Aged 7 months in French oak.”

TASTING NOTES

Robe:  Opaque porphyry robe.

Nose:  Black fruit, ‘funk-free’, fragrant violet aromas.

Palate: Black currant, blackberry, brambled bouche. Medium body, well-balanced, plush tannins, lengthy finish.

Suggested Pairings:  A deep-tenored wine of subtle power that pairs well with hearty winter fare in front of a roaring fire.

As a Burgundy and pinot noir aficionado, I do find occasional sucor among syrahs from of Walla Walla Valley and The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater.  This wine ripples across the palate with surprisingly suppleness and grace.

Bells Up 2015 Firebird Syrah wine talks softly and carries a big finish.

Rating: 92 

Bells Up Winery | 27895 NE Bell Road | Newberg, OR 97132 | P: 503.537.1328 

info@bellsupwinery.com

 Link here to find out more about Bells Up Pre-Thanksgiving Weekend Open House Events.

Link here to find out more about Bells Up Post-Thanksgiving Weekend Open House Events.

Link here for more Hedonistic Taster.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below, and to follow on social media – cheers!

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved.

The Hedonistic Taster Celebrates the Solar Eclipse | № 27 | Brooks Winery | Willamette Valley

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 27 | Brooks Winery – Willamette Valley, OR

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Tastevin

“Wine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.” – Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster*, an intimate showcase of artisan winemaker trade samples.

These tasting notes compliment  binNotes | Affordable Burgundy and beyond.“Beyond” includes existing and emerging producers of Pinot Noir worldwide.

Santé

Hey! Did you know that the path of the total solar eclipse on August 21st 2017 passes over Brooks Winery?

Today’s Tasting: Brooks Winery – Willamette Valley, OR. 

Much has been written about the history of Brooks Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley – about its founder Jimi Brooks, about his untimely passing in September 2004 at the age of 38 to an aortic aneurism, and about the remarkable banding together of community to complete his unfinished harvest that year.

Much, too, has been written about the legacy of Brooks Winery – about Jimi’s son Pascal, just eight when his father passed, about Pascal’s future, and about that of the winery. A film, American Wine Story,  even chronicles the story.

Much less has been written about Jimi’s sister Janie Brooks Heuck – about her assumption as Business Manager of Brooks Winery upon Jimi’s passing, about her active role helping raise nephew Pascal, about her tireless efforts burnishing the Brooks Winery brand, achieving Demeter biodynamic certification, expanding the vineyard holdings, all while residing full-time in Pebble Beach, CA. with her husband and family.

These tasting notes derive from a private tasting conducted by Janie Brooks Heuck at The Bench at Pebble Beach with myself and Suzanne Kendrick of New Zealand’s Wine-searcher.com.

A gracious host, Brooks Heuck put us through our paces with three whites and three Pinot Noirs, all creations of long-time Brooks Winery artisan winemaker Chris Williams. These wines echo with the soul of Beaujolais-trained Jim Brooks in their elegance and refinement, but they also capture the unfettered, utterly authentic spirit of the Willamette Valley. The seaside scenery only enhanced these pours.

Wine: Brooks Winery Riesling – Willamette Valley, OR.

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  12.5%

Suggested Retail:  $18

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Light straw robe.

Nose:  Honeysuckle, stone fruit, slight mineral nose.

Palate: Acacia, citrus zest bouche with mineral core; acid plus, medium body and finish. Seamlessly structured, eminently quaffable.

Suggested Pairings:  A wine of freshness and linearity worth pondering sans food and without interruptions.

Rating: 94

Wine:   Brooks Winery Pinot Blanc – Willamette Valley, OR.

Vintage:  2016

Alcohol:   13%

Suggested Retail:  $20

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Pale lemon robe.

Nose:  Fleurs blanches, almond, citrus notes.

Palate: Light body, slight residual sugar on the palate, soft finish.

Suggested Pairings: A wisp of a wine to savor as an apéritif with small savory bites.

Rating: 92

 

Brooks Winery 2016 Amycas White Blend, Willamette Valley, OR.

Wine:   Brooks Winery Amycas White Wine – Willamette Valley, OR.

Vintage:  2016

Alcohol:  13.5%

Suggested Retail:  $20

Specs

TASTING NOTES:  

Robe:  Light lemon robe.

Nose:   Ginger, citrus, hint of honeysuckle on the nose.

Palate: Lemon zest, tropical fruit.  Light body with a bit of unctuousness, lingering finish.

Suggested Pairings:   The ginger notes beg for Asian or Indonesian fare.

Rating:  90

Brooks Winery 2014 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.©L.M. Archer

Wine:  Brooks Winery Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:  13%

Suggested Retail:  $28

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear garnet robe.

Nose:  Persimmon, high-toned red fruit, slight herbal backnote.

Palate:  Red currant, red raspberry bouche; light body, balanced acids and tannins, medium finish. Reminiscent of a Bourgogne rouge. Exceptional quality for the price.

Suggested Pairings:  

Rating: 95

Brooks Winery 2014 La Chenaie Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR.

Wine: Brooks Winery La Chenaie Pinot Noir

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:  13.2%

Suggested Retail:  $48

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear ruby robe.

Nose:  Blackberry, red raspberry, loam, basalt.

Palate:  Black and red fruits carry through on the mouth, as does a rugged plumb line of flinty basalt. Acids and tannins plus, but round out over time; medium body, medium long finish.

Suggested Pairings:  A wine weighty enough to serve with roasted pork loin or rack of lamb.

Rating:  94

Brooks Winery 2014 Rastaban Pinot Noir –
Willamette Valley, OR.

Wine:   Brooks Winery Rastaban Brooks Estate Pinot Noir

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:   13.2%

Suggested Retail:  $60

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear ruby robe.

Nose:   Bramble berry, dark raspberry, loam on the nose.

Palate:  A brooding, Heathcliff-on-the-moors type of wine with a dark black fruit, herbaceous bouche and textured mineral core; acids and tannins plus, medium body, full finish.

Suggested Pairings: A wine intense enough to roundhouse through the thickest Prime rib.

Rating: 94

Learn more about Brooks Winery here.

More of The Hedonistic Taster here.

 

I want to hear from you! Please leave your comments below, and join the conversation on social media – cheers!

 

*Author’s Note: The title “Hedonistic Taster” derives from the term ‘hedonistic tasting,’ coined by legendary Burgundian vigneron Henri Jayer.

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Hedonistic Taster Takes on National Pinot Noir Day | № 26 | Grochau Cellars – Willamette Valley

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 26 | Grochau Cellars – Willamette Valley, OR.

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne MLTastevin

“Wine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.” – Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster*, an intimate showcase of artisan winemaker trade samples.

These tasting notes compliment  binNotes | Affordable Burgundy and beyond. “Beyond” includes existing and emerging producers of Pinot Noir worldwide.

Santé!

Did you know that August 18th is National Pinot Noir Day?!

Today’s Tasting: Grochau Cellars – Willamette Valley

Some wines sear the soul and haunt the palate. Grochau Cellars strike such a nerve. On the nose, these wines seduce, flatter, cajole – only to attack the palate with tensile nerve and unflinching precision before finishing with haughty grace – much like a taunting tango dancer. Or a really lean, mean (ok, maybe not mean), ex-professional Loire Valley bikeracer-turned-wineseller-turned Willamette Valley winemaker like John Grochau.

Grochau earned his stripes most notably at Erath Winery, and later with Doug Tunnel of Brick House Vineyards, before starting Grochau Cellars in 2002.

Recently, while in Oregon attending IPNC,  I had the honor and privilege to sit down with John Grochau for a private tasting of Grochau Cellars wines.

I have long admired Grochau Cellars wines for their consistency, quality, and ridiculous affordability, especially his Commuter Cuvée Pinot Noir.

These wines did not disappoint.

Grochau Cellars 2016 Melon de Bourgogne. ©L.M. Archer.

Wine: Grochau Cellars Melon de Bourgogne | Willamette Valley, OR.

 Vintage: 2016

Alcohol:  13%

Suggested Retail:  $18

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Pale lemon robe.

Nose:  Stone fruit, hint of wet stone, florals on the nose.

Palate: Bright acids, light body, lingering finish.

Suggested Pairings: Never heard of Melon de Bourgogne? It’s a white grape originally from Burgundy transplanted to the Loire Valley’s Nantais, a wine region famous for Muscadet. This one’s talking to you. It wants seafood. Now.

Rating:  92

 

Grochau Cellars 2014 Bunker Hill Vineyard Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, OR. ©L.M. Archer.

Wine: Grochau Cellars Chardonnay – Bunker Hill Vineyard | Willamette Valley, OR.

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:  13.3%

Suggested Retail:  $23

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Pale gold robe.

Nose:  Mild, discrete hints of fleurs blanches on the nose. 

Palate:  Did not see this one coming. White Burgundy – say hello to my little friend Meursaultmeets-Puilly-Fuissé. Lovely juxtaposition between a smooth entry, rich mouthfeel, and polished finish against a chiseled brightness and elegant core.

Suggested Pairings: A texturally interesting wine that compliments lightly sauced or roasted fish or fowl served along seasonal sides like grilled mushrooms.

Rating:  93

Grochau Cellars 2014 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR. ©L.M. Archer.

Wine:   Grochau Cellars Pinot Noir  | Dundee, OR.

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:  13.7%

Suggested Retail:  $33

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear, crimson robe.

Nose:   Red fruit, dried florals on the nose, with an herbaceous back note.  

Palate: Red fruit and spice bouche, fresh acids, medium body, refined finish. Raffine.

Suggested Pairings: A wine for all seasons and reasons, especially with duck, pheasant, or turkey during lengthy, memory-worthy feasts with family and friends.

Rating:  95

Grochau Cellars 2014 Bjornson Vineyard Pinot Noir

Wine: Grochau Cellars Pinot Noir – Bjornson Vineyard | Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, OR.

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:  14%

Suggested Retail:  $38

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear ruby robe.

Nose:  Dark red fruit, baking spice, earth on the hose.

Palate:  Brooding, red cherry and spice bouche with medium-plus acids, mineral core, muscular tannins, and firm finish.

Suggested Pairings:  Rack of lamb, pork loin or beef.

Rating:  92

Learn more about Grochau Cellars here.

More of The Hedonistic Taster here.

 

Yes, I want to hear from you! Please leave your comments below, and join the conversation on social media – cheers!

 

*Author’s Note: The title “Hedonistic Taster” derives from the term ‘hedonistic tasting,’ coined by legendary Burgundian vigneron Henri Jayer.

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved

My latest in Wines and Vines Magazine: Technical Spotlight on Lingua Franca

Lingua Franca: Willamette Valley winery builds a state-of-the-art, quake-resistant production facility  

by L.M. Archer 

Lingua Franca Winery in the Willamette Valley produces premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

When the 2014 South Napa earthquake subsided, wine consultant and master sommelier Larry Stone surveilled the wreckage of his Napa home and thought, “Wherever I work next, it’s gonna be earthquake-proof.” Read more hereCopyright © Wines & Vines

I want to hear from you! Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Psstt…And please do follow me on Instagram, Facebook and other social media – you can find the icons above on the left-hand side of this site.

Cheers!

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved

 

 

My Latest In Oregon Wine Press: Terroir Whisperer

Terroir Whisperer

International expert digs into Willamette Valley

By L.M. Archer

Pedro Parra, wiping his sweaty brow, heaves a soil-smeared pickaxe from the chest-high pit surrounding him. A backhoe looms above the burly, bearded man, a silent sentinel and partner-in-crime to this scene of calculated destruction stretching under Oregon’s late afternoon sky. Parra sighs and hoists himself out of the hole, dusting dirt off his smudged jeans and shirt.

It’s not easy being a terroir whisperer. Read the full article here.

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes | redThread™. All Rights Reserved

 

BKWine Magazine | Artisan Winemaker Don Hagge of Vidon Vineyard, Oregon

Dear Readers:

FYI:

 Paris-based BKWine Magazine now features my interview with artisan wine maker and former NASA rocket scientist Don Hagge of Vidon Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Read the full article here.

Read the full article in Swedish here.

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes | redThread™. All Rights Reserved.

Wine Industry Insight Features “The New French Paradox”

Wine Industry Insight Features “The New French Paradox”

Dear Readers:

Just wanted to alert you that today’s Wine Industry Insight North American Regional Wine News section features my latest article “The New French Paradox”, now available in the March issue of Oregon Wine Press. 

Nice way to start the week – cheers!

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer \ binNotes | redThread™.  All Rights Reserved.