Camellia Cellars

2004 Lencioni Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon •Lencioni Vineyard

California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley

Offer Expired:May 22, 2010 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


Today’s wine, which gets our hearty recommendation (read our glowing review, below), also deserves this special recognition is a really standout wine.


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Mission Codename: A Dozen Camellias

Operative: Agent Noir

Objective: Send Agent Noir back to Camellia Cellars, in search of their best Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Camellia Cellars

Wine Subject: 2004 Lencioni Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Bruce Snyder

Backgrounder: The lush Dry Creek Valley, in Sonoma County, is home to some of our most favorite wineries. A still and beautiful place the Dry Creek Valley is fertile, lush and abundant with vineyards that produce an astonishing range of wines. From creekside low-lying vineyards to those at higher elevations, the variety of flavors and styles – even among a particular varietal – is astounding. So, too, is the quality. For today’s wine, Agent Noir returned to Wine Spies favorite, Camellia Cellars, where Bruce Snyder crafts wines that are as unique as they are delicious. Read Agent Noir’s tasting notes and mission report below

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Classic garnet color with a very true Cabernet look. This wine shows an opaque black heart and thick, wine-stained legs that move slowly down the glass after swirling.

Smell – The bouquet is dusty and classic with currant and tobacco leaf mixed with a potpourri of earthy flowers. After the wine opens up, it presents sweet oak notes, hints of spice and earthy chocolate.

Feel – Medium weight, fast moving, easy and lively on the palate, but ultra smooth. Balanced and graceful, this wine has a great overall feel.

Taste – This dry and dusty Cabernet has old school California flavors and style, with plum, cherry, blackberry and sage notes. The focus is clear and the layers are well defined with nice oak and smooth tannins.

Finish – This wine finishes with a burst of fruit, wood and dry tannins, all making this wine true and classic with a late showing of blackberry jam right at the end.

Conclusion – This wine will remind you of the Cabernets of of the mid-eighties or early nineties – which is to say that it is, without question, a classic style that is very drinkable. Consider this a retro Cab that is fun and very easy to love. This balanced wine is delicious, dynamic and ready to go when you are.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Bruce Snyder

WINE EDUCATION: School of Hard Knocks

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF:None, thank goodness. If I had, I would be making someone else’s wine.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY:I believe in varietal correctness. I will have no residual sugar, lollipop wines in my portfolio. Wine should linger on the palate; acidity is good.

WINEMAKER QUOTE:Wine is a condiment to food, not a monument to itself. That is just too egotistical and juvenile.


Today’s mission was an easy one. I visited the winery, I asked for another of their great wines, the winery gave me a number of cases, I reviewed the wine, and now the rest is up to you! If you love great, classic Cabernet, then this wine is well worthy of your table – and cellar, where it will likely continue to get even better.

The last time we had a mission to Camellia Cellars, the mission report was a real hit. Because Bruce Snyder was so difficult to nail down for a full interview, today, I’ll share my original mission report with you again:

Ouch! That bottle fell right onto my head. I can’t believe that this bottle shop could be so careless with the way they stacked their bottles in this display!

As I reach up to feel the lump on the top of my head, I catch a sudden movement out of the corner of my eye. I spin around to see two figures burst through the doors of the store. The urgency on their faces tells me to brace myself for trouble.

“We’re here for Agent Red,” One of the men shouts. “He needs to come with us now.”

Bravely, so as to keep others in the store from harm, I yell, “I’m Red. Who are you?”

“My authentication word of today is Medoc!”, one of the men says with great seriousness.

Medoc is a district in France’s Bordeaux region where Cabernet Sauvignon is prominently grown. The authentication word is accurate and I follow the men through the doors… and into the burgundy-colored helicopter waiting in the street.

Once on board, Agent White barks orders to the chopper’s pilot and we are airborne. Wasting no words, White concisely and severely lays out the scenario for me: Wine-hating Oeno-terrorists group D.W.I.N.D.L.E. (Destroy Wine, Imbibe Noxious Drinks Like Ethanol) has threatened to render Cabernet Sauvignon grapes unsuitable for vinification by releasing a gene which destroys the grapes inherent good qualities. Their plan is to release a cloud of this gene in an invisible carrier-gas, first over Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley, and then other of California’s Cabernet-famous regions.

Dry Creek Valley is where Camellia Cellars – where today’s mission was to take me – happens to be. With any luck, I would save Camellia, the Dry Creek Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon!

Suddenly an explosion rocks the helicopter and I am blown out of the open door and find myself free falling toward the neat vineyard rows below. Without losing my cool, I pull the ripcord on my parachute (good thing I had the foresight to wear one under my tuxedo before leaving Central Command earlier this morning) and float gently to the ground.

Unfortunately, a sudden gust of wind ruins what would have been a pristine landing, and blows me toward a tree.


I wake to find myself in a hospital bed and I realize I am not alone in the room. Standing by the bed is Agent White and two people that I slowly come to recognize from briefing photos I had studied earlier in the day; Camellia winemaker, Bruce Snyder, and grower, Chris Lewand, are here with a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon in hand. Smiles are splashed across all three faces.

Agent White says, “You dummy. The bottle shop called me. They told me that you bumped a wine display and caused an avalanche of bottles to cascade down on your head. You’re lucky you got off with just a few bumps and bruises.”

“The way you were carrying on, it sounds like you were having some interesting dreams,” Bruce adds.

I look up at them, laugh nervously, and, pointing at the wine bottle, say, “I hope you brought a corkscrew. I have to see if I saved Cabernet!”

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Lencioni Vineyard, where the juice for today’s wine came from, can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

Our flagship Cabernet Vineyard continues to surprise and delight us. Robust flavors, proper tannins, and exceptional finish characterizes this great example of 100% Cabernet.

Although now in decline, this vineyard squeezes out small berries that lend substantial extraction leading to the intensity of this wine.

About The Winery:

“Sangiovese, which is the great grape of Chianti, enjoyed a surge of popularity in California a few years ago, but we have found too many of them candy – sweet, clumsy and lacking the charm of the real thing from Italy — and at higher price, to boot. This is a big exception. It tastes like fleshy red fruit and earth, bursting with ripe berries, plums and cherries, but it has a dry finish with some bite.” Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, The Wall Street Journal – September 16, 2005

Chris Lewand, with her father Ray Lewand and partner Bruce Snyder, form a unique wine producing team. While they have individual divisions of responsibility, each of them contributes to all aspects of running a small premium winery.

Managing partner Chris Lewand coordinates all the business activities while leading the public relations efforts and making tasting and blending decisions with Ray and Bruce. Bruce Snyder oversees production but relishes the opportunity to put on clean clothes and show the wines anywhere he can. Ray leads the occasional special tastings for guests of the family’s bed and breakfast, the Camellia Inn in Healdsburg, and helps around with whatever the activity of the day happens to be.

The result is small lots of premium wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, and their proprietary blend have received awards and glowing reviews. The Camellia Cellars line of premium wines reflects their hard work and distinctive food-friendly style.

They have, through the years, made wine from nearly every Sonoma appellation. While currently working with three lovely small vineyards in Dry Creek Valley, the search for the “right grapes in the right spot” never ceases.

About The Vineyards

Widely praised for its big, bold zinfandels, Sonoma County also produces outstanding Bordeaux varietals from warmer locations such as Dry Creek Valley. Lencioni Vineyards is situated on the eastern bench of Dry Creek Valley at 400 feet of elevation. The property overlooks the Lytton Springs area to the east and the middle portion of Dry Creek Valley to the west. Angelo Lencioni established the vineyards in 1898 with over 100 acres of cabernet sauvignon in 1988.

The warm, dry Mediterranean climate of Dry Creek Valley is ideal for cabernet sauvignon. Vines at this hilltop location are fully exposed to long sunny days for much of the growing season. The extended sunlight encourages grapes to achieve optimum ripeness while the cool nights build essential acids. Fruit slowly develops deeply tinted skins with intense flavors and soft tannins. Prevailing dry westerly winds minimize potential threats from frost and mildew. Annual rainfall is 40 inches while fog is minimal.

Cabernet clone #7 was planted on St. George rootstock and later trained on vertical two-wire trellising. “This clone gives rise to deep blackberry and cassis flavors,” says grower Fred Ginn,” while the unfailing St. George rootstock maintains a well-balanced, low-vigor vine.”

Soils mostly consist of a rocky bronze-red clay-loam. They are relatively lean and provide excellent drainage. This terroir – the overall effect of climate, geology, topography and vines – produces small berries with complex, concentrated characteristics.

Technical Analysis:

Varietals: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Bottled: June 26, 2007

Finished Alcohol: 14.8%

Cases Produced: 270

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