Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Napa Valley

waterstone cab The playwright Tom Stoppard is credited with saying that “Age is a very high price to pay for maturity”. Most of us who have attained a certain age can ruefully assent to this doleful sentiment since it is rare that human beings escape its logic.

But wine is another matter. A talented winemaker can encourage mature flavors even in a relatively young wine, and that is one of the many virtues of this Cabernet form Waterstone. Dried fruit, roasted coffee, and inklings of cigar box are already beginning to appear with earthy/leafy notes that remind me of the smell of early autumn leaves after a light rain. This is a lovely nose that one would expect after a few more years in the bottle. With aeration, younger black cherry notes become more prominent.

Racy, medium-plus acidity gives this wine a refreshing, light touch on the palate where the black cherry and milk chocolate flavors have maintained their gleaming youth. Cedar with a dusty quality dominates the medium length finish, but the tannins are soft and unobtrusive. There is no Mojave-mouth with this wine even after several tastings.

Although climbing the ladder, it stops well short of opulence preferring understated elegance and some simplicity on the palate, with the focus on refreshment not power.

I served this with filet of beef in a balsamic sauce. But the vinegar seemed to compete with the acid in the wine. Serve it with a dish that allows the acidity in the wine to be dominant.

I have tasted several other Waterstone offerings—chardonnay, pinot noir, and merlot—and they all wear well this understated elegance. It is apparently a signature of this producer. And at the price it is one of the truly great bargains coming out of Napa.

Price: $18-$24

Opened: August 2012

Good: Elegance

Bad: A bit simple on the palate

Distinctive: a well-developed nose in a relatively young wine

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