Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
I have to admit that I am a sucker for a good mystery, especially when it relates to wine and where the fruit is sourced. It’s always exciting to find a wine that is relatively inexpensive yet made with fruit from well pedigreed growers or producers that charge considerably more for their wines. Take the Pine Ridge Encantado Red Blend I recently reviewed for example.
I feel like these opportunities are few and far between in the wine world. As a consumer we usually have a good idea where the fruit used to make the wine was sourced (particularly when estate grown), or we have little to no idea (the winery sources their fruit from various growers). But with the Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, it is rumored that the fruit was sourced from declassified Harlan Estate lots!
Harlan Estate is one of the original California Cult Cabernet’s and it commands a price of $500 per bottle for those lucky enough to receive an allocation on their mailing list. Their status amongst Cult Cabernet collectors is probably second only to the vaunted and mythical Screaming Eagle Cabernet.
All this talk of high end wine has us craving some great juice…like this incredible Cabernet from an under the radar producer. Parker himself has described them as one of the most underrated producers of Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley!
On the secondary market, and particularly in great vintages, Harlan’s price often approaches that of first growth Bordeaux such as Chateau Latour and Chateau Margaux. Bill Harlan has said himself that his original intention when he founded Harlan Estate in 1984 was to create the equivalent of First Growth Bordeaux in Napa Valley. Few would disagree that he has accomplished this considering the price and quality of his wines.
But how about possibly getting a taste of Harlan Estate magic at a reasonable price? That’s where I’m most interested. If you consider that the Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 received a 93 point score from James Suckling, is rumored to be produced from Harlan Estate’s declassified lots and can be had for around $20, how could you not be curious? Let’s see how it stacks up…
Appearance: Dark at the core but not quite opaque purplish red as you near the edges.
Nose: Dusty dark red fruit is complemented by a strong note of fresh blueberries.
Taste: Rich and full bodied without being dense or chewy. There are flavors of smoky, ripe black cherry, blueberries and mint. It has a nice firm tannin profile that’s assertive but in no way overpowering. It finishes with lingering cassis and a bit of leather. A balanced, elegant and complex wine.
Region: Napa Valley, CA
Varietal Composition: Cabernet Sauvignon
Value Rating: 4.75/5
Where I Got It: Wine Shopper
Price: $20 (~$24 Retail)
Value Proposition – Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon
I am really impressed with this wine and couldn’t agree more with James Suckling’s 93 point score. I found it to be incredible for the price and truly an amazing value. I purchased this wine several months ago from Wine Shopper for about $20, which is a small discount to the standard retail price.
A quick search on Wine-Searcher reveals that it can be found ranging in price from $19.50 to $25.99, and frankly I’m surprised it can be found anywhere at these prices! I believe the Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon can easily stand up to several Cabernet’s I’ve recently tasted costing twice as much.
Whether or not this wine is produced from declassified Harlan Estate lots (meaning grapes or wine whose quality isn’t high enough for the proprietary estate wine, but may still produce a fine wine) the cost of this wine represents just 5.2% of the Harlan Estate Cabernet’s price.
That’s not even sales tax! For me, that’s a pretty small price to pay to possibly be getting some Harlan Estate flavor/character, and if it’s not, you’re still getting a phenomenal Napa Valley Cabernet with fruit sourced from prestigious Rutherford and Oakville AVA’s. Regardless of whether the rumor is true, I think this is one situation where it is safe to assume that Waterstone’s Cabernet will easily deliver at least 5.2% of the drinking pleasure of Harlan’s Cabernet.
I would recommend that you find this wine if you’re looking for that increasingly hard to find value in Napa Valley Cabernet. This wine has great character and is really a nice expression of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Waterstone has really hit it out of the park with this offering. Now I can’t wait to try the Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet 2010 to see how it compares to their 2009 Cabernet!
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