The Wine Country Online

Greetings from the back roads of California wine country! It is the old Wine Tout's job to introduce you to the folks who are handcrafting delicious, exuberant wines in the many small or recently established wineries around Northern California. These are wines that are not widely available beyond the neighborhood where they are produced. My goal is to encourage the consumer to contact the winemakers directly.

Last fall we visited Camellia Cellars' Lencioni Vineyard and introduced their winemakers and new vintages. This fall we offer a Mediterranean-inspired California menu to complement their '99 Cabernet Sauvignon. Below the recipes you will find the makers' notes on this release.


Jack Burton

Gowan's Apple Farm in the Anderson Valley, Mendocino County
A Fall Meze for a Great Sonoma County Cabernet

The Menu

Home-Cured Black Olives
(see recipe in previous issue)

Della Fattoria Bread (where to buy)

Heirloom Tomato and Shaved Fennel Salad
(Dressed simply with salt, black pepper, fresh basil, M. Turrigiano Olive Oil, and julienned sweet red chilies)

Pan-fried Wild Pacific Salmon Filets à la Fiorentine

Potato cakes with Jimtown Roasted Vegetable Tapénade

Anderson Valley Pears, Apples and Walnuts from Gowan's Oak Tree with California Cream Chèvre

Napa County Honey

Pan-fried Wild King Salmon Filets à la Fiorentine

Through the late summer and early fall, some Northern California fishermen make their livings by trolling for wild King Salmon. It is a great pleasure when these fish are in the market, and they are a much anticipated seasonal blessing from the sea.

If you happen to be visiting the harbor at Bodega Bay, these beautiful fish are often available direct from the fishermen at dockside   it does not get any fresher than this, and it is a great way to support the industry!

1. However you come by your fish, fillet and skin it, then sauté in a small amount of olive oil. When you turn the fish, rub it with a modest amount of garlic that has been mashed with a bit of olive oil. Salt and scatter the fish with crushed red chilies, then remove the fish to a holding plate when you have judged it done to your liking.
2.Toss a good handful of washed baby spinach leaves into the hot pan and stir them around once, just to wilt them.
3.To serve, make a bed of the wilted spinach, top with a piece of salmon and drizzle each with a teaspoon of O Meyer Lemon Oil.
Potato Cake
1. Peel and thinly slice:
2Large Russet potatoes
1/2Medium yellow onion
2.Preheat a 10" nonstick or iron skillet with:
3 T.Olive oil
3.Layer one potato into the warm pan, then scatter on the onion and season with salt and pepper. Lay the second potato in on top in a nice pinwheel.
4.Raise the heat and sauté for one minute, then cover close, lower the heat, and cook for 20 minutes.
5.Uncover and check the potatoes to assure they are tender, then spoon in:
1 T.Olive oil
6.Whisk and pour over the potatoes:
7.Re-cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes or until the eggs have set.
8.Loosen the cake from the pan and invert onto a serving plate. Serves 4 or 6.

California Cream Chèvre

This is a simple trick for making a rich and goat-tangy spreading cheese for a savory starter, main course ingredient, or sweet dessert.

Combine and mix briefly by hand or electric mixer:

8 oz.California Chèvre
8 oz.California Cream Cheese
1/4 c.Cream

This recipe was inspired by Chef Mark Malicki while I was working with him at Iron Horse Ranch. I would go just up the hill from the winery on Thomas Road to fetch a tub of Redwood Hill Dairy Chèvre. Mark would cream the cheese with a pint of West Marin County Straus Family Dairy Cream and mound it on to big platters for winery events and family gatherings.

I like to take the process one step further by including Sierra Nevada Cream Cheese as an equal partner with the Chèvre.

A rich selection at Gowan's

Camellia Cellars
1999 Cabernet Sauvignon


Widely praised for its big, bold zinfandels, Sonoma County also produces outstanding Bordeaux varietals from warmer locations such as Dry Creek Valley.

Lencioni Vineyard 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 zinfandel. It was partially replanted to four 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.


The winter preceding the ‘99 growing season was cold and average in precipitation. Mild spring weather contributed to normal budbreak, berry set and veraison. Temperatures were below average in mid-summer, but increased with the approach of autumn. This progression prompted slow maturation and a well-timed harvest of clean, flavorful fruit.

Tasting Notes

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 tannins are well integrated and compliment the intense fruit. Nicely balanced, it finishes long and clean with flavors of berry and a touch of vanilla. Serve with bleu cheese, steaks and roasts, or chocolate desserts. Aging potential: 8  10 years.

   Winemaker Bruce Snyder

Technical Data 
Appellation:Dry Creek Valley
Varietal content:100% cabernet sauvignon
Harvest date:September 20, 1999
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:13.7%
Total acid:0.65g/100ml
Total production:336 cases
Release date:September 1, 2002
CA suggested retail:$45.00