All winemakers have a bit of the Scientist in them. They are in their cellar mixing brews, experimenting with different winemaking techniques, and evaluating the fruit of their work.
Anthony Bell of Bell Wine Cellars is a little different. This is the man who meticulously followed an obscure vine through various trials in the vineyard and in the cellar and eventually showed the potential of what many would call the best clone of Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley has at its disposal.
Bell, who founded his namesake winery in 1991 with friend and vineyard owner John Baritelle, was in a unique position in the early 1980s. A viticulturalist with the renowned Beaulieu Vineyards in Napa Valley, Bell began work on an extensive research project to determine what kind of clonal variation existed among grapevines. Today, we know that different clones can change a wine significantly. But in 1980, this was novel inquiry.
Working with Austin Goheen of the US Department of Agriculture, Bell began planting, cultivating and making wine at Beaulieu Vineyards from 14 different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, at the time representing the universe of available Cabernet Sauvignon plant materials. One of these clones was called the “Jackson Clone”. It had been retrieved from an old research station near the town of Jackson in the Sierra Foothills that had been abandoned around the turn of the century. The Jackson Clone turned out, over the years and over several experimental bottlings that Bell and Goheen made, to be of remarkable quality.
So taken was Bell with the Jackson Clone, he convinced Baritelle to plant 10 acres of it in his Napa Vineyard. The original 1991 vintage was labeled “Jackson Clone” and was the first wine in California to be labeled for its clone, and was Bell Wine Cellars’ first wine. By 1999, word was out about the Jackson Clone that Bell had helped rediscover. But, it was being called “Clone 6” since it was the 6th of the 14 clones that Bell and Goheen evaluated. Bell changed the name that year and called, what would become the centerpiece of Bell Wine Cellars’ bottlings, “Clone 6 Cabernet Sauvignon.”
Bell’s original employer Beaulieu Vineyards, other Napa Valley wineries, and of course Bell Wine Cellars, today all make a wine labeled “Clone 6”. Bell describes the wines made from this particular clone of Cabernet as “lushly textured fruit, finesse, and exceptional concentration.”
Today, Bell Wine Cellars is still going strong. In addition to their famed Clone 6 Cabernet, the Napa Valley winery produces Syrah from the Sierra Foothills’ "Canterbury Vineyard" that is superb. They produce other Napa Cabernets too, as well as Merlots, Bordeaux blends, Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs.
But no matter how wonderfully made all the Bell wines are, and they are, the winery’s namesake will always be known for his scientific research that led to Clone 6.
11 In Stock