September’s Virtual Tasting will take place tonight! The wine is Novelty Hill’s Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. As usual, I will be opening the bottle about 7pm and posting my comments and tweets (@wawinereport) along the way. Please join us in trying this wine and posting your notes.

For those of you in the Seattle area the winery, which is located in Woodinville, is sold out of the 2006 (see a list of Seattle-area retailers as well as on-line sellers of the 2006 here). However, today only, Novelty Hill will be extending a 20% discount on one bottle of the 2007 Cabernet to people who purchase at the winery. Just mention you are planning to participate in tonight’s Virtual Tasting. As I mentioned in my original post, I will plan on tasting both the 2006 and 2007 as part of tonight’s tasting so feel free to stop by the winery, pick up the 2007 and join in the fun.

7:15 Update: Okay folks. The bottles are open. Let the Virtual Tasting begin! We had a brief delay after I lost control of the robot requiring rebooting. As I mentioned earlier, I will be tasting both the 2006 and the 2007 wines. I picked up the 2007, which was just released a few weeks ago and should be making it on retailer shelves shortly, at the winery this afternoon. The drive to Woodinville reminded me what I love about the Northwest with a bald eagle soaring high overhead.

Both wines are using cork as a closure, both with vintage stamps. The 2006 has considerably more color on the cork (will get a picture up of this). I’m assuming this is largely due to the extra bottle aging but we’ll see what the wines look like once I get them in the glass.

7:30 Update: Okay, I also popped and poured both of these wines. May end up throwing the 2007 into the decanter depending on how it’s doing. I will focus on the 2006 for the moment. The wine is at 62 degrees. Some dusky spice along with pepper and cedar on the nose. The fruit is lying underneath this at the moment. My initial impression is to wonder what other varietals are blended in as they seem to be playing a fair bit on the nose. I’ll give this a look later on.

7:45 Update: This is a round, rich wine with a lot of cherry flavors. Some light herbal undertones along with some resinous aromas. I agree with Paul’s comment that there is a lot coming from the acid on this wine as opposed to the tannins. My first impression is that this is quite an enjoyable wine. I think it needs to open up a bit. I’m going to put it in a decanter and give the 2007 a try.

8:00 Update: Giving the 2007 a try. On the nose, a bit muted at the moment (no surprise given that it’s a 2007). Chocolate along with spice (can’t quite pick up what it is, a bit of anise perhaps?) and some pleasing herbal elements. Fairly acid driven on a taste that is very evenly balanced across the palate.

Comparing the 2007 to the 2006, I get a lot of what seems like seem like Cab Franc aromas on the 2006. Earthy, potting soil aromas. Not sure on the blend. The taste is evenly balanced with a slightly sharp uptick about 2/3 of the way through.

Overall, I find a lot of stylistic similarities in terms of nose and style on both wine.

8:15 Update: The 2007 has a nice, powdered chocolate element on the nose along with a bit more tannin structure. Smooth and even. The nose has lots of cherry, black pepper, and an under layer of anise.

The 2006 has some palate coating oak, in a pleasant way. The wine largely pulls it off. Starts with a very plush entry before pulling back a bit and getting a slightly sharp element that lingers on the palate.

8:30 Update: Some background details on the wines.

The 2006: 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. I KNEW there was some Cab Franc in this wine :). 3,832 cases produced. 14.4% alcohol.

The 2007: 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc; 1% Petit Verdot. 3,964 cases produced. 14.4% alcohol.

8:45 Update: Here is what the publications have to say. Nothing on the 2007 as it is just released. Only thing I see is in Wine Spectator on the 2006, nothing on Wine Enthusiast or Wine Advocate:

92 points. Dense and chewy, but with a nice lift of acidity and freshness as the finish rolls in, framing the cherry, blackberry, coffee and smoke flavors as they linger expressively. Best from 2011 through 2018. 3,888 cases made. –HS

I agree on the lift of acidity but otherwise don’t get too much from the description.

From CellarTracker, 13 notes. Average of 88.5 points and median of 90. Check out what people have to say here.

9:00 Update: Notes from winemaker Michael Januik on each wine.

2006 Cabernet: Rich and expressive with ripe blackberry, currant and spicy black cherry aromas and flavors. Well-balanced, with plenty of dark fruit flavors lingering across a lengthy, expressive finish.

2007 Cabernet: A deep, concentrated wine with fresh blackberry, dark cherry and red currant. Expressive and balanced, with dark fruit flavors persisting across a long, generous finish.

See the full 2006 writeup from the winery here. See the full 2007 writeup here.

Both vintages list at $25. I bought the 2006 from Pete’s for $21.50 and bought the 2007 from the winery for $20 (lists for $25 but includes the 20% discount for tonight’s tasting).

My final thoughts. Both wines are very well made. I went back and forth as to which I liked more as they opened up.

I really enjoy the nose on the 2006. Gets more expressive as the wine moves up toward 67 as opposed to the 62 I originally had it at. A lot to swirl around and ponder over. Fun earthy elements. A good palate with the exception of the slight dip in the mid-palate. A good wine for $25; put it at $18-$20 and it’s a steal. In my rating system I would put it as a “slash” wine between a + and *. So I would either list it as “+/*” or do as I usually do in such circumstances and score down. Given the amount of good things going on in this wine I would probably list it as +/* with a * a little too high and a + a little too low.

On the 2007, definitely more of a chocolate and anise component on the nose and taste than I get on the 2006. Otherwise a lot of the same things going on stylistically. I like the nose more on the 2006 but like the palate a bit more on the 2007. I think, given a bit more time in the bottle, the 2007 will be a bit better of a wine. I would score it as just painting the low edges of a * on my rating scale.

Thanks to everyone who participated. We’ll do it again next month.

Final Update: Retrying these wines now a full three hours after they have been open and decanted.

On the 2006, chilled back to 62 degrees. A lot of toasted oak and spice aromas. Black pepper and earth are still there. Does seem to show a lot of Cab Franc influence strangely. The taste seems considerably more thin when the wine is cooler. It becomes more rich on the palate as it warms up. Tannins definitely pull back here on a more acid-driven, oak-textured wine.

More on the 2007 in the final final.

Final Final Update: Retrying the 2007 now. A lot of great stuff on the nose. I think the 2007 has a bit more upside, although the 2006 is tasting better right now with another year in the bottle. The 2007 carries more completely across the palate. I also get, as this wine opens up, a light egg component on the nose. Perhaps from egg fining? Overall, both are very enjoyable wines.

Thanks again to everyone who took part. If you have suggestions for next month’s Virtual Tasting, send them along.