Review: 2006 Waterstone Cabernet Napa Valley

A Pleasant Surprise

Last summer was a doozy for run-of-the-mill, varietally-correct wines.  Thoroughfares of proper wines, yet few with any real identity or backbone to speak of.  So, at the time Waterstone's Chardonnay and Merlot were comfortable guests at that cocktail party.  A Honda Accord Wine For The Pottery Barn Crowd was the verdict.  Not bad, but, well, you're smart enough to know what that means...

Fast forward seven months and for whatever reason they sent a sample of the 2006 Cab for review.  If that reason was that they've had trouble moving a vintage going on 5 years old, I am truly sorry.  On the other hand, if the reason they sent it was to see if anyone is paying attention, well, then, someone is paying attention.

Yes, the 2007 vintage is enjoying some well deserved (and well timed) hype in NorCal.  But in most years, 2006 inclusive, there are producers who turn out winning wines.  For Waterstone, 2006 was one such year.

Rocking out in handsomely robust glass, the 2006 Waterstone Cabernet Napa Valley pours like an extracted wine taken care of from spring to crush.  Subtle aromatically, it charges ahead with decisive character: uninhibited Cabernet fruit with a side car of whale-salt coarse tannins.  We're clearly off the aforementioned highways and enjoying a rollicking, bareback ride through the dusty, brown hillsides east of Oak Knoll.  Wearing cocoa chaps. And an allspice helmet.  Why doesn't more Napa Cabernet have this fun-loving texture?  Who the hell knows.  Plus, there's a not-so-little something extra reminiscent of the Red Hills - which is inescapably endearing. 

Look, this is nothing challenging or complex, but it outshone an 03 Cotes de Tablas this night - and that's saying a lot. 

It's $26 on the company's website, but available for $20 (and less) elsewhere.  Regardless, it gets a 4.5 stars for standing out and delivering charisma where others just, well, pour.