By Mary Kelley
Wine lovers in Oxford have a new reason to venture down Jackson Avenue. High Cotton Wine and Spirits Warehouse has created their own private label wine, The Bell. This past year, Aaron Herington, owner of High Cotton Wine and Spirits Warehouse, set out to California to create a wine that they could call their own. Similar to the barrel program that is currently offered of hand selected spirits, Herrington became interested in creating a private label wine to be able to offer a product that they helped not only hand select but also create. “As we continued to grow our store and grow our brand, we wanted more personalized options offered to our consumers,” Herrington said. “In us selecting the wine, it is us vouching for the quality of the it. We are trying to put something out there that we think our target consumers would enjoy.” The Bell Pinot Noir, a blend of 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Syrah, is an approachable wine for both new and experienced wine drinkers. The blend of the two grapes adds different aspects and qualities to the wine. It offers bright fruit notes upfront and transitions into a snappy and peppery finish on the end. Depending on your pallet, you might even pick up notes of rose hips or orange rind. While the wine does include a larger amount of Pinot Noir, the Syrah blended in adds the lingering finish making it more of a two-dimensional wine versatile for pairing. “The Syrah really gives it a nice lingering finish on the pallet,” Herrington said. “That way it doesn’t stop short after all the bright fruit notes. It kind of rounds it out.” Herrington recommends enjoying the Pinot Noir with dishes that include roasted chicken, filet, lamb and venison. Although it pairs nicely with meat, he adds that it is also great for casual drinking.
When Herrington set out to California to begin the process of creating his private label blend, he had the intention of returning with just one wine. After creating the Pinot Noir, he also fell in love with a Chardonnay and came back home with both varietals. The Chardonnay was so well received that it has since sold out. Because the Pinot Noir was the purpose of the trip to California, a much larger amount of it was blended and is still available to purchase. For the wine drinkers who still might prefer a chilled wine with the warmer temperatures approaching, Herrington will soon be launching a Rosé to their private label collection. Although Rosé is already enjoyed year-round, Herrington wanted to launch this additional wine so that consumers would be able to enjoy it with spring and summer approaching when Rosé popularity skyrockets. Consumers can expect the flavors of The Bell Rosé to pair best with spicy dishes like Thai and Indian food as well as charcuterie, lamb, grilled chicken and soft cheeses. “This was kind of the next step for us to focus on a personalized product,” said Herrington. “We wanted to create something from us for our consumers.”
When deciding who he wanted to work with in creating The Bell, Herrington chose Presqu’ile Winery in Santa Maria, California. High Cotton Wine and Spirits Warehouse has carried a variety of their wine for years. After getting to know the owners and winemakers and developing a good relationship with Presqu’ile, Herrington decided to work with them to create his private label. “Because we love the quality of the wine at Presqu’ile and their wine that we sell has been so well received from our consumers in Oxford, we thought it would be a nice fit to work with them,” Herrington adds. The name The Bell was inspired by the history of Presqu’ile Winery. Before venturing off to California, the family who owns the winery originally farmed land in both Louisiana and Arkansas for generations. Once they moved to California, they took a large metal bell to the winery with them from one of their farms. This bell is depicted on the label of The Bell wine bottles. While visiting Presqu’ile, anytime the bell is rung, everyone at the winery is supposed to drink. “So, the story behind the bell inspired the label,” said Herrington. “The idea is to drink and enjoy.” High Cotton Wine and Spirits Warehouse is the only retail shop where The Bell is available for purchase and Herrington has also partnered with several local restaurants in Oxford. Customers can enjoy sipping on The Bell at Snackbar, McEwen’s and Grit, where the private label wine is poured.