What We Say 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Camellia Cellars.
Mission Codename: The flower power hour
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Locate a true Sonoma County artisan red wine, worthy of our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Camelia Cellars
Wine Subject: 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemakers: Ray Lewand and Bruce Snyder
Today, Central Command throw Agent Red a bone by sending him to one of his favorite wine-producing regions in California, Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County, where the Wine Spies have been receiving reports that a small artisan winery called Camellia Cellars was producing a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon. Read his mission report below for full details on today’s exceptional wine.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark garnet with a deep core of dark violet, a springy surface, pink edges, think legs and small flecks of grit left on the inside of the swirled glass
Smell – Concentrated fruit notes of blackberry, deep cherry, cassis and plum, with undertones of cafe mocha, veggie pate, subtle smoked red red meats and mildest potting soil
Feel – Ultra-light weight on the tongue, wet and cool, mouth-coating and supple, with soft to medium tannins and balanced acidity
Taste – Beautifully layered flavors of cherry, raspberry, burnt toffee, toasted oak and soft musk
Finish – Long and lingering with palate-cleansing acidity, supple tannins and flavors that taper elegantly
Conclusion – On the surface this is classic California Cabernet Sauvignon. However, just under the surface this wine really comes alive, revealing such a wonderful and elegant character. This is the sort of wine that tells you a great deal about who made it – and from where it sprang. Alexander Valley and the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County (where the fruit for this wine was grown) continue to be among my very favorites, producing wines of remarkable individuality and great character. Winemaker Bruce Snyder and grower Chris Lewand deserve special recognition for this particular wine; together they have crafted a very special treat.
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 can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
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About This Wine:
This full-bodied wine has big berry essence on the nose with notes of vanilla, toffee, baking spice and toasted oak. Substantial, yet velvety tannins emerge under layers of lively black cherry, then raspberry, followed by a crest of plate-cleaning acidity and a lingering fruity finish. Aging potential: 8 – 9 years.
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.
“This wine casts aromas and flavors of blackberry, cassis and lightly toasted oak. As is typical of the vineyard, all are complimented by hints of brush and chocolate. The tannis are well integrated and compliment the intense fruit. Nicely balanced, it finishes long and clean with flavor of berry and a touch of vanilla. Serve with chocolate desserts. Aging potential: 8 to 10 years.” – Winemaker Bruce Snyder
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley
Varietal Content: 100% cabernet sauvignon
Harvest date: September 28, 2002
Yield: 3.4 tons per acre
Fermentation: 11 days in stainless steel tanks
Aging: 23 months in oak barrels:
85% French (15%new, 70% neutral),
15% American (one-year-old)
Finished alcohol: 13.6%
Total acid: 0.65/100ml