Wine writer and blogger Penny Sadler has been writing about wine and travel for over a decade. She’s chronicled adventures throughout prominent Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese wine regions, as well as those in Texas, California, and New York.
She recently joined us for a virtual wine tasting through the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and subsequently wrote a lovely post on her blog, “Wine and Music Create a Bells Up Moment in Willamette Valley.”
In the feature, Sadler draws a comparison between playing the French horn and wine making. She writes:
Dave Specter, owner and winemaker at Bells Up Winery in Willamette Valley, Oregon, loves a challenge. A French horn player throughout middle school and high school, little did he know that learning to play one of the most difficult instruments in the world would prepare him for becoming a winemaker.
For those who know nothing about music, the French horn is an unpredictable instrument…hence difficult. You never know if the sound that comes out is what you intended. Growing and harvesting wine grapes is unpredictable, too: drought, floods, storms, and insects are just a few factors that can upset a harvest. You could say that making wine is the physical expression of Dave’s passion for music. Or to put it another way, he loves a challenge—and just transferred it from playing the French horn to making wine.
Additionally, she sampled and reviewed two of our wines: 2021 Helios Estate Seyval Blanc and the currently unreleased 2021 Jupiter Estate Pinot Noir. Here’s what she had to say…
2021 Helios Estate Seyval Blanc
The 2021 harvest was their fourth harvest of seyval blanc. Bells Up was the first to plant seyval blanc in Willamette Valley. Dave had a lot of success with it when learning the ropes in Cincinnati, and it continues to be a winner. It’s so successful that he is increasing the number of plantings.
The Helios Estate Seyval blanc is fermented in stainless steel to preserve the nose with its tropical fruit notes, which you may also notice on the palate. Aged on the lees for six months, it lends a slightly creamier mouthfeel to the wine with good acidity. Dave focuses on texture, and wants people to taste what they feel in their mouths. Only 64 cases of Helios were produced.
2021 Jupiter Estate Pinot Noir
Dave blended Pommard clones, 667, and 113 clones for his Jupiter pinot noir. The 2021 harvest presented some unique challenges, including a three-day “heat dome” in June, with record-high temperatures. Pinot noir is notoriously finicky and already difficult to achieve consistent ripeness across vineyards.
This wine can be drunk now, but would benefit from some time in the bottle in order best show the elegance, red-fruit flavors, and acidity. Decanting is an option if you prefer to drink it young. The 2021 Jupiter Estate Pinot Noir can be aged up to nine years.