They identify as “Micro-boutique and un-domaine”. Bells Up Winery was born from leaving stress behind and blowing their own horn!
The name comes from a term in classical music composition as a note for French Horns. When it says “bells up” it means to play with gusto, with the bell of the horn up to allow the music to be heard.
That’s an allegory for how Dave and Sarah feel about their winery.
We tasted two of their wines, the Bells Up 2020 Prelude Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains AVA and the Bells Up 2020 Rhapsody Pinot Blanc Willamette Valley Paired with a backyard feast for Memorial Day.
Today we move on to the…
Bells Up 2018 Titan Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.
Let’s first address the name. Titan refers to Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major(all of their wines are named for Musical pieces)
This piece was considered unusually grand and ambitious for the time, by a young composer. Perhaps this mimics this wine, Dave coming into the Willamette Valley where Pinot Noir is revered and jumping in with both feet in a bold way when he was so new to the industry.
This symphony evoked the heroic ideals of the day for Mahler and was originally called “Titan: a symphonic poem”. The title alluded to a popular novel where the protagonist uses only his inner strength to defend against evil.
The wine is their flagship Pinot Noir. It is a blend of 3 Pinot Noir clones from 2 different sites.
The largest part of this wine is the Pommard clone of Pinot Noir and is from 10 year old vines in the Chehalem Mountain AVA. The vineyard sits at 800 feet and has wind-blown loess soils that give this wine bright fruit notes.
Then there are two clones 115, 777, grown in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA with vines that are 18 years old. The elevation here is between 460-520 feet and the soils here are Willakenzie. The oldest soils in the Willamette valley, the Willakenzie soils come from marine sediment from when this part of Oregon was a seabed.
The soils are well drained and the roots have to work hard to find water, which creates a spiciness and structure in the wines. The structure and tannins need time to integrate and will help the wine age.
The 2018 growing season was consistently warm and dry with cool nights, which adds to the structure and balance of this wine.
While this bottle was delicious, it will continue to get more delicious as it ages in the bottle. Get more than one bottle and taste it on its journey. It will be maturing for the next 7 or so years.
41% Pommard, Chehalem Mountains AVA
29.3% 115 clone & 29.3% 777 clone, both from Yamhill-Carlton AVA
Harvested October 4th, 2018, aged 12 months in 38% New French Oak. Bottled in December of 2019 and released Sept 2020.
111 cases produced – 13.7% abv – $40 SRP
What to pair with a Titan?
Michael decided we should pair BBQ with this Titan Pinot Noir and set out to pick up a Feast for us. I was mid studying for a Wine Certification and cooking was the last thing I wanted to do. He ordered from Famous Dave’s and returned with a feast that all we had to do was plate it and open the bottle!
We headed to the rooftop deck to enjoy, St. Louis-Style Spareribs, BBQ Chicken, Texas Beef Brisket, Georgia Chopped Pork, Burnt ends (my favorite), Sweetwater Catfish, Garlic Red-skinned mashed potatoes, creamy coleslaw, Firecracker Green Beans and Corn Bread Muffins.
The 2018 Titan Pinot Noir from Bells Up had notes of red cherry, raspberry, cooked fruit, cola, nutmeg, forest floor, & tobacco on the nose. In my mouth it was more like cranberry, red cherry and candied fruit with a bit of baking spice.
Michael mentioned getting a bit of cherry Jolly Rancher, and the wine did have a juiciness about it.
It blended beautifully with the fruit and spice notes in the BBQ.
With full tummy’s and the rest of the bottle of wine, we headed downstairs to watch out beloved Vegas Golden Knight play a bit of Hockey. (We are still in the playoffs, feel free to send some love the VGKs way!)
More on the Willamette Valley by Crushed Grape Chronicles
- Sokol Blosser Celebrating 50 years – an inside peek at the family behind this pioneering winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley
- Lenné Estate – Poor Soil, Hardworking Grapes and a Beautiful Reserve Chardonnay
- Tea smoked tuna and roasted beets with an aromatic plating paired with a Utopia 2017 Pinot Noir
- Découverte! Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Dundee Hills and Mediterranean Salmon
- Oregon Wine & Biodynamics with Troon and Winderlea
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.