Typically when you see a French horn being played, you see the bell (the horn part where the sound comes from) pointed down and to the side of the musician. Typically also they have their hand and perhaps a cloth in the bell to soften the sound.
Upon occasion, like in Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, the composer will add a note in the music “Pavillons en l’air” or “Schalltricter auf” which means “Bells Up”.
The idea is that the bell of the French Horn at this point is pointed up so that more of the sound is sent straight out to the audience.
At the same time, you can’t keep your hand in the bell here, so the sound is louder and meant for hearty passages!
So why would you name a winery Bells Up?
Dave Specter had played French Horn throughout high school and college. He then went on to become a corporate tax attorney. Yeah, that is as horrible and stressful as it sounds. So, he escaped and turned to something he loved and that was winemaking. It began with making wine in the basement. After working at Henke Winery in Cincinnati and then winning a couple of amateur winemaking competitions he and his wife Sara up and moved to Newberg Oregon, in the Willamette Valley.
Bells Up Winery is Dave’s “Bells Up” moment. He has found what he loves to do and he is doing it loudly and proudly!
It’s also a nod to Bell Road where their winery is located.
Bells Up Winery
The winery is in the Chehalem Mountains AVA where they have a 9-acre estate vineyard, planted to Pinot Noir and Seyval Blanc. Established in 2013 their winery is young. Their first vintage release was Memorial Day 2015 and we are celebrating their 6th anniversary of releasing wine with a Memorial Day feast! We are also celebrating Oregon Wine Month!
First, let me tell you about the wines
*These wines were received as media samples. All opinions remain our own.
Bells Up 2020 Rhapsody Pinot Blanc Willamette Valley
The wine is named for George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. I have fond memories of this piece. (I can hum it to you in its entirety). You perhaps know it as the music from those old United Air Lines commercials. When Gershwin wrote this piece, it was groundbreaking.
He combined jazz with classical music. That clarinet glissando that introduces the piece is unmistakable.
The 2020 Rhapsody Pinot Bland is a new wine for Bells Up. This 100% Pinot Blanc came from a difficult vintage (well, a difficult year all around for all of us). The fruit comes from Plum Hill vineyard in Gaston Oregon.
This vineyard sits on the other side of the Tualatin River from the Chehalem Mountains AVA and these Pinot Blanc vines are 13 years old.
2020 delivered a cool wet June, right at the time of flowering, and meant fewer grapes at harvest. Then there was the fear of smoke taint from the fires, which luckily these grapes were free from.
They found this fruit “Lithe and Lively” and call this a jazzy white (so it is aptly named!). They aged it sur lie in Stainless Steel for 6 months. This adds body to the wine, rounding it out, but it still retains wonderful crispness.
46 cases produced – 12.5% abv – $28.00 SRP
Bells Up 2020 Prelude Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains AVA
The name of this wine comes from one of Franz Liszt’s 12 Symphonic Poems, a genre that he created. Liszt was originally a performer, he was one of the greatest piano virtuosos of his time.
In his middle age, his mistress, the unhappily married Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein, convinced him to stop performing and compose full time. He dedicated this piece to her.
The piece is a series of passages which used dissonance for harmonic color.
Hmm… so do we see this reflected in the wine?
We’ve mentioned the difficulties of this season of 2020, we mention the dissonance in the music. We often think of rosé as a cheerful wine.
There is not a lot of depth in a typical rosé it doesn’t sit on the skin very long, it comes out bright-eyed and a bit naïve, not having touched all the difficulties that the skin of the grape endured throughout the year, being made mostly of the juicy protected pulp of the grape. This wine is different.
This wine did a cold soak for 24 hours and then was lightly pressed. This gave the skins time to impart some of the lessons learned over the year to this wine. It is joyful despite adversity, not because it was sheltered from it.
The nose is at first dusty with bright red fruit beneath it as well as bramble, you know, the prickly part of the bushes that create such delicious fruit. It is a blend of light and dark.
So while joyful, this wine has depth and a sense of seriousness to it.
109 cases produced – 13.5 abv – $24 SRP
A Memorial Day Celebration
So to pair with the 6th anniversary of their first release and these two lovely wines, we put together a small feast to enjoy in the backyard with friends. Yes, Memorial Day is a few days away…we celebrated early to bring you ideas for your own backyard pairings!
Halibut sliders with garlic parmesan aioli
So simple. Michael threw these on the grill in some foil and then they were dressed with an aioli sauce of grated parmesan, garlic, and mayo and topped with fresh thyme. (our thyme came from the backyard and Michael picked it as we plated since the plant was only 5 feet from the table!)
These were PERFECT with the Pinot Blanc!
Mexican Street Corn
Street corn is new to me! I know, I’m behind the times here. I made a quick sauce of mayo, sour crème, lime zest, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and salt and pepper.
This is painted onto the corn after it is grilled, then you roll them in crumbled cotija cheese. So good!
With the Pinot Blanc, the cotija cheese was so flavorful!
Watermelon balls with kiwi and basil
With it just being two of us, a whole watermelon is just too much. I picked up one of those tiny watermelons. We made watermelon balls, sliced up a kiwi, and added some fresh basil.
Bahn mi inspired sausage dogs
I was determined not to have plain hotdogs or your typical topping. Michael found brioche buns and grilled up some sausage, we used a honey mustard dressing (stone ground mustard, mayo, and honey).
A smear of the dressing goes in the bottom of the bun, then we added thin ribbons of carrot and cucumber, the sausage, and topped it with more of the mustard mixture and fresh mint. YUM!
I decided it was worth trying this with the Pinot Blanc and was rewarded. The Pinot Blanc brought out the smokiness in the sausage in a wonderful bright way. This was an unusual pairing, interesting and delicious.
Hamburger sliders with bleu cheese and fig jam
I mean really how can you go wrong. The ingredients are all there in the title, juicy little burgers topped while they are hot with bleu cheese and finished with a dollop of fig jam, all sandwiched in a Kings Hawaiian Sweetbread roll. We did do these healthier by using the wheat rolls. LOL
The rosé really made the bleu cheese pop!
Prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe
Simple, sweet, and savory. I find making these almost a meditation in the midst of cooking a bunch of dishes. slice the canteloupe and gracefully wrap each slice with a delicate thin piece of prosciutto.
The savoriness of the prosciutto and the sweetness of the canteloupe made this go well with the rosé
BBQ sliders with purple slaw
I cheated here and picked up BBQ, it was smoky and sweet and delicious. We topped it with slaw from purple cabbage, apple, cucumber, and carrot, with a dressing of mayo, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
This was stunning with the rosé, the wine picking up on those sweet notes in the bbq sauce.
Oh and potato chips. Michael picked up salt and pepper crinkle chips that were the perfect crunch.
I encourage you to find a bottle of these wines, to pair for Memorial Day or any day this summer. Perhaps tune into these pieces of music and see how they pair. I’ll leave you with links.
George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic (1976)
Liszt: Les Preludes, Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan
We look forward to tasting the Bells up 2018 Titan in the not to distance future and sharing with you more about this winery and its story.
Until then, you can find them online at Bells Up Winery.
If you will be in the Willamette Valley and want to book a tasting, you can do that! They are a micro-boutique winery (ie. really small). The best part about that is the personal service. Call and schedule a one on one tasting with Dave himself! You can reach them at 503.537.1328 or email them at [email protected].
It’s Oregon Wine Month!
We did not drink nearly enough Oregon Wine this month, there are so many amazing wines in Oregon to enjoy! Check out what is still happening in the Willamette Valley to celebrate, as well as what is happening beyond in the rest of Oregon at the Oregon Wine Board Site! (check out their #PourItForward campaign on Instagram & Twitter!)
More on Willamette Valley Wineries from Crushed Grape Chronicles
- Sokol Blosser Celebrating 50 years – an inside peek at the family behind this pioneering winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley
- Découverte! Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Dundee Hills and Mediterranean Salmon
- Oregon Wine & Biodynamics with Troon and Winderlea
- Oregon’s Utopia – A bit of vineyard perfection in the Ribbon Ridge AVA
- Alloro – Stunning Wines form Oregon’s New Laurelwood District AVA
- Montinore – the deeper history
- Ross & Bee – Maloof wines
- Jim & Jenny – Fossil and Fawn at the Uncommon Wine Festival
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.