Saturday, February 19, 2011

Surprise In a Glass, 2006 Waterstone Cabernet

You might be thinking "great, like the world needs another $25 Napa Valley cabernet"..There is no fault in such sentiment, because the market is awash with wines around this price. Unfortunately, a lot of those wines have quality issues, leaving the drinker disappointed. The flip side is that the economic downturn has reduced prices on wine (and grapes) allowing the wine drinker more choice at his or her desired price level.

Critics are gushing over the 2007 vintage up in Napa and Sonoma, well Bob Parker and Jim Laube are at least. Wines from that vintage don't seem to have much trouble moving, especially when the (sadly ignorant) consumer sees a 92 point Parker or Wine Speculator Spectator score. This is all relative to price and market segment, of course. Don't want any anal retentive readers frothing at the mouth just yet! A compelling argument against the "points are dead!!!!" crowd not withstanding.

A few weeks back I was sent a sample of 2006 Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon, from Napa Valley. This isn't pure cabernet though, with 17% merlot and 4% cabernet franc rounding out the blend. While the alcohol varies from 14.5%-14.9% depending on whether you look at the bottle or the website, that's still too high in my opinion. My now-familiar refrain about lower alcohol levels is old hat, yet I will gladly continue to shout it from the rooftops.

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Great cabernet color in my glass, very dark ruby that gets a touch pale at the outer edges. There isn't anything crazy or unique about the color, which might as well be taken as a good sign. That said, I've resolved to get better at examining color since red wines seem to me to be varying shades of purple or garnet/ruby, without much variation. Then again, such a generic color profile might be more indicative of the wines I've been drinking lately.

With that little evaluation out of the way I can focus on what this 2006 cabernet smells like. Lots of cedar, earth, sweet berries and some hints of baking chocolate slathered onto an oak plank. I like the complexity and effect of a few primary scents that tend to dominate, yet are in fact restrained by the secondary aromas.

A taste brings a rollicking good time with big tannins making the entrance, paving the way for herbs, cassis, a plummy vanilla note, and oak. Nice finish too, doesn't last too long and is only marred by some alcoholic heat that tickles the back of my throat. The 2006 Waterstone is one of the more food-friendly cabernets that I have tasted lately. Wonderful body across the entire range of flavors, I honestly believe the only knock against this wine is that alcoholic finish.

At a suggested retail of $26, the 2006 Waterstone is not bad at all and drinks a lot better than some $50+ cabs I have tasted in the past year. When I searched around on google, I was able to find this wine for less than $20, which makes it a real keeper. I'd like to pick up another bottle and taste it against some other Napa cabernets like the 2007 Franciscan, 2007 Chateau St. Jean, and 2007 JAQK Cellars. Seeing how a slightly-under-the-radar wine like this would do is the kind of thing that gets wine geeks all tingly. I give this wine a B and a BUY recommendation. Deliciously tasty juice at a very affordable price. I wish these guys much success down the road. Decant or open three hours before serving to let that alcohol blow off and then enjoy!

This wine was a media sample.

Beau Carufel


  1. I agree, I would much rather see the same flavor development with 13.5-14.0% alcohol.