Waterstone Cab with Steak ‘n Shake cheeseburgers.

Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa

Cost: $23-25

What: One of real treats in wine drinking is finding a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon at an affordable price. The soil and the climate do wonderful things to Cabernet grapes, so top end wines from Napa often sell for well more than $100 a bottle.

Finding a Napa Cab this good in this price range is a minor miracle.

The wine is a Bordeaux style blend of five grapes, but it is 84% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is another 10%, with the rest coming from Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon

It’s a wonderful wine, with beautiful aromas of blueberry and herbs. The first sips bring tastes of ripe berries and spices, but this is a nicely complex wine that unfolds several layers of flavor as you drink. At different times I picked up notes of black cherry, cedar, cocoa and plum.

There is plenty of fruit, but it is a well-rounded wine with smooth, silky tannins. Everything is in balance. It has a silky feel in the mouth, with a long, smooth finish.

The grapes come from hillside vineyards from diverse parts of Napa Valley. The grapes were fermented in stainless steel received extended skin contact before being transferred to barrels. The wine went through malolactic fermentation in small French oak barrels (80% new), where it spent 24 months.

Winery: Veteran winemaker Philip Zorn joined wine executive Brent Shortridge in 2000 to form Waterstone Winery when the two men discovered they were both interested in creating luxury wines at affordable prices.

Their longtime connections to Napa Valley growers and vintners helped them secure top-quality grapes for their wines without buying vineyards.

Preferring to focus on the wine itself rather than the accumulation of land and facilities, Zorn and Shortridge also do not own the facility where their wines are made. Dedicated winemaking, strong relationships with top growers and long-term grape contracts are the keys to Waterstone’s quality and success. They do have a tasting room in downtown Napa, called Taste at Oxbow.

Waterstone makes several wines including Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Napa Valley Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Syrah, Carneros Chardonnay, Napa Valley Pinot Gris, Napa Valley Merlot, Napa Valley Zinfandel, Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Study in Blue Napa Valley Red Wine and Carneros Pinot Noir.

Goes with: My wife Teri and I had this elegant wine with a special treat of double cheeseburgers from Steak ‘n Shake, Augusta’s newest premium hamburger spot. I have fond memories of Steak ‘n Shake that date all the way back to my college days when it was located just a block from my fraternity house.

I like to have nice wine with everyday food, and the Waterstone Cab fit the bill perfectly. It was powerful enough to stand up to the hearty burgers, and the complex fruit flavors made the sandwich even better.

You could also serve the wine with grilled red meat, shepherd’s pie, pork stir fry or chocolate souffle.

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