Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waterstone Winery at Taste of the Oxbow

Waterstone Winery, in the tasting room called Taste of the Oxbow, makes a very pleasant, reasonably priced 2008 Merlot at $18 and a really nice 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon at only $24, with all of their other wines being quite decent for the money and most coming from vineyards in Napa Valley.  (The Pinot Noir is from the Sonoma side of Carneros.)

The windows have "Taste of the
Oxbow" on them.

Waterstone Winery is located in downtown Napa across from Oxbow Market. The tasting includes four tastes for $10, but there are coupons, groupons and other offers that you should check out on the Internet, and Waterstone is also in the Napa Neighbor Program if you are a local.  There were eight Waterstone wines available on the tasting list when I visited.

Part of the tasting bar.

The first wine offered was the 2011 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc at $18.  They mentioned that Wine Spectator gave it a score of 86, which is a good score for a wine at this price.  It was quite decent for the money.  The Waterstone 2010 Pinot Gris from Napa Valley had a very nice nose and was again well worth the price of $18.  (The Waterstone Pinot Gris is on the wine list at Pearl, one of my favorite restaurants in Napa.)  Next was the Waterstone 2011 Chardonnay Carneros at $18 which was dry and crisp and fairly decent although I’d rate the Pinot Gris as my favorite of the whites followed by the Sauvignon Blanc.

One of the tasting tables

The reds began with a Waterstone 2008 Pinot Noirone  from Carneros that sold for $22 and was fairly good for the price.  But it was followed by a lovely Waterstone 2008 Merlot that was only $18 and was even better.  It is one of the most pleasant Merlots for under $20 that I have tasted recently.  The nose was rather light, but it had pleasant cherry like fruit upon entry, followed by delightfully integrated tannins with decent substance and acid and a good finish. This is a very enjoyable Merlot with some excellent sourced fruit.  It was rated 89 by Editors’ Choice and 88 by Wine Enthusiast, while Wine Spectator listed it among its Best New Wine Deals and described it as “lush and deeply flavorful, reminiscent of ripe black cherries.”  Do not give this Merlot much air or try to carry an opened bottle over to the next day, however, because it will not hold up.  Equally as fine, or even better than the Merlot, was the Waterstone 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon at $24.  The respectable wine critic James Suckling gave this 93 points in Tasting Report and called it an “amazing value.”  This is a rather lush Cab with soft tannins, some herbaceousness and plenty of ripe fruit.  It is 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cab Franc, 3% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec.  As with the Merlot, this is one to drink now and not put in your wine cellar or storage. This is a premium tasting Cab at a half or a third of the price one would usually expect. But don't trust me or Jame Suckling; try it for yourself.  If you are a serious wine drinker looking for a Napa Cab bargain, you should appreciate it.

Waterstone Winery is not one of those gorgeous mountain wineries with views to die for and there are no vineyards to admire or tour. It is simply a tasting room in downtown Napa.  But it is worth a visit, and if you can’t visit, I’d recommend trying the 2008 Merlot and the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon which are both very nice wines for the price. If you do visit, be sure to check out the various discount coupons and downtown tasting offers on the Internet. Downtown Wine Tasting Card

708 1st St
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 265-9600
Date of visit: July 11, 2012

The brown signs on each side of the
 entry read "Whetstone".

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