It was such fun to finally meet wine writers, reviewers and media producers Robin and Michael Renken of Crushed Grape Chronicles this past August as they took a lengthy road trip they called “The Scenic Route 2021.” The pair have previously featured our wines in both video and written format twice: Once as their choice to celebrate the start of summer and a second time as a pairing with a barbecue feast.
We were absolutely delighted to host them in person and share our current tasting line-up with them when they visited in person. They recently documented this portion of their travels — Days 10 & 11 — on their website in words, photos (like the one above, of our vineyard), and video.
About their experience here, they wrote:
Our next stop was Bells Up, in the Chehalem Mountains. Dave & Sara Specter welcomed us and we headed out to the patio to take in the vineyard view. Michael was able to get the drone in the air and capture some vineyard shots.
They had prepared a delicious lunch for us to accompany our pairing. It felt like you were being welcomed into their home.
As we got into talking about the wines, Dave brought up musical analogies. You’ll remember our previous tastings of wines from Bells Up earlier this year.
Most of their wines are named for Musical pieces. Dave was a French Horn player. He describes the shape of the wine in musical terms.
As we sipped the Titan he explained that the goal with the Titan is for it “to roll like a wave across your tongue. I want this to rise to have an apex in the mid-palate and then have a long slow decrescendo off the back side.”
If you are familiar with the French horn you will understand thinking of the shape of the music. A French horn has but 3 valves, the sound is dependent on embouchure (the shape and tightness of your lips as you blow) and how you allow the sound to be released from the horn. Often French horn players keep their hand in the bell of the horn to adjust how the sound is released, muting it or going “Bells Up” and letting the sound belt forth without impedance.
The Titan named for Mahler’s most approachable Symphony is a 45-minute piece with rises and falls, like rolling hills and meadows that pull from the landscape of Austria and Germany. The wine should similarly rise and fall on your palate.
Dave’s goal is for each wine to be a different shape. With so many Pinot Noirs in the Willamette Valley, Pinot fatigue is real. He wants his guests to be able to clearly see the difference between his wines.
With the 2019 Candide, Dave looked for more fireworks. This is named for Leonard Bernstein’s Operetta. The wine is Pinot Noir from 2 clones. 2/3rds Wadenswil from Nemarniki Vineyard and 1/3 Pommard from the Bells Up Estate.
As I tasted it, the landscape of this wine felt more vertical, looking up to fireworks overhead, compared to across the rolling hills is an accurate description of the differences.
We also tasted the Villanelle, the Jupiter (watch for our complete tasting in the new year). Our final tasting was the Firebird Syrah that they source from Walla Walla. This paired with the grape pie that Sara had made. This dessert is a local favorite, made from a seedless table wine grape that is sweet so the fruit needs no sugar. It smells like blueberry and blackberry with notes of cardamom and is absolutely amazing with the Syrah! [Pictured above.]
In addition to the fabulous photos and generous praise, the Renkens included us in this video (we’re featured starting at the 2-minute mark):