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Bell Wine Cellars - Jackson, California, in the no


97-point rating by nationally syndicated columnist, Jerry Mead

Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t get much better than the 97-point rating handed out by 40-year wine veteran, and nationally syndicated columnist, Jerry Mead. In pursuit of the perfect Cabernet Sauvignon, winemaker Anthony Bell and winegrower, John Baritelle, may be the closest yet with their 1995 vintage.

Bell’s fabulous signature Cabernet Sauvignon is the culmination of meticulous experimentation and groundbreaking clonal research performed over the last two decades. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bell collected and planted 14 different selections of Cabernet Sauvignon. They tracked down one particular vine selection in an old, overgrown, abandoned vineyard located near Jackson, California, in the northern Sacramento River Valley. Based on the area’s history, the vine cutting they brought back is thought to have originated in Bordeaux and imported in the late 1800s by California wine pioneer Paul Masson.

After years of research and blind tastings, this so-called Jackson clone, with its lushly textured fruit, finesse and concentration, rose heads above the rest. With high hopes and expectations, Bell and Baritelle planted a few rows of this exceptional clone in the Baritelle Vineyard located within Napa’s famous Rutherford bench.

The 1991 vintage was the first release of Bell Wine Cellars, Baritelle Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon. Amazingly, the quality of each successive vintage has surpassed its predecessor. It’s hard to imagine a classier wine than the 1995 vintage featured in this month’s delivery.
Anthony hails from South Africa where he grew up living on a vineyard and winery that his dad managed. “Even as a young boy I distinctly remember I wanted to do the same sort of thing my dad was doing,” Anthony says. To broaden his life experience, after high school he traveled and worked at wineries in both Spain and France, then spent a year’s duty in the South African Navy. In the early 1970s he entered Stellenbosch University in South Africa to follow through on his study of enology and winemaking.

After graduating, Anthony came to the United States to earn his Masters degree in winemaking at the University of California Davis in northern California. His wine career began with a short stint at LaMont Winery in Bakersfield where he was hired in 1978 as quality control manager. The following year, with the help of one of his college professors, he found himself at Beaulieu Vineyards, hired on as their assistant winemaker. This move proved to be key for Anthony, for it was at Beaulieu that his wine career began to flourish.

At Beaulieu Vineyards, Anthony held a variety of positions on his way up the corporate vine. Over the years his escalating responsibilities included, Operations Manager, Director of Operations & Winemaking, Vice President of Production, and General Manager. As V.P. of Operations, he was in charge of winemaking, production and viticulture operations at Heublein’s Inglenook-Napa Valley, as well as, The Gustave Neibaum Collection, Christian Brothers and Rutherford Estate Cellars. And for Beaulieu Vineyards, Anthony was responsible for the many great Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernets for which the winery is widely known. His vast accomplishments are well documented and respected in the wine industry.

Winegrower, John Baritelle, is a long time friend of Anthony’s and for decades has supplied grapes for Beaulieu Vineyards. It is his vineyard that has provided all the elements and laid the foundation for the superior Bell Cabernets.

The Baritelle family is originally from the Piedmont region of northern Italy, where they were wool merchants by trade. In the late 19th century, they sold their business and invested the family fortune in vineyards. The drastic change in livelihood was ill fated however as they were financially ruined by the phylloxera devastation that swept through Europe. The family moved to the U.S. seeking a better life and ended up in the lush wine-growing region of northern California.

Before joining his father in the vineyard business, John Baritelle was an economics professor who helped shape agricultural policy during the Carter administration. The Baritelle father and son team developed what has become one of the most respected vineyards in all of Napa Valley.

“Viticulture is about passion, not profitability for me,” says Baritelle. “This is a project that’s good for the soul,” he adds. “Wine is grown in the vineyard,” interjects Bell. “We are merely stewards of nature while the wine is in our cellar,” The two men’s’ philosophy of winemaking is deeply intertwined similar and clearly reflected in the superb 1995 Bell, Baritelle Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon.



Dear Platinum Series Wine Club Member:

It is with great pleasure that I offer you my 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon, produced from grapes grown in John Baritelle’s vineyard on the Rutherford Bench of the Napa Valley. Created from a special clone of Cabernet Sauvignon imported into California in the late 1800s, we refer to the vines as the Jackson Clone, named after the location of an abandoned experimental field station from which we selected the cuttings to plant this vineyard.
I believe that great wines are a true expression of the vineyard and the challenge as a winemaker is to bring to you the fruit yielded by a particular location. I focus on balance in the wine and with this in mind, produce wines that have great fruit on the nose and palate, and soft supple tannins, allowing for an exquisite balance between fruit, oak and tannins.
Bell Wine Cellars began producing wines in 1991. We produce 3,000 cases of wine annually. We are a small family-owned winery, committed to hand-crafting limited edition bottlings of extraordinary wines that best reflect the terroir of their vineyards and the care and passion of their growers. Next time you are in the Napa Valley take a small detour off the beaten path and experience the quiet, in the heart of the vineyard. Come with a picnic and enjoy the spectacular view from our shaded vineyard patio, which looks out over the vineyard to the Mayacamas range across the valley. If you let me know when you’re coming, I’ll warm up the large Italian hearthstone oven at the end of our patio, and be ready to produce the finest of fare.
We hope you enjoy our wine as much as we enjoy growing and making them.
Cheers! Anthony Bell, Winemaker

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