Couly-Dutheil 2002 Chinon Les Gravières , $13
As with previous bottles, this reminds more of Pinot Noir than Cabernet Franc, with cherry, sandalwood and cinnamon dominating the aromas and flavors. However, it has herbal and mineral notes that give this some Chinon character. It’s silky smooth and an excellent match with pesto. Importer: Elite Wine Imports.
Domaine de la Chanteleuserie 2001 Bourgueil Cuvée Alouettes, $13
Unlike some previous vintages, this is definitely on the weedy/herbal/green pepper side of the spectrum, but I like it anyway. There’s decent cherry fruit, nice acidity and a smooth texture. It does go very nicely with Middle Eastern food. Two days later, it’s better, more balanced and less green, yet still with nice herbal elements. Importer: Kermit Lynch.
Prunotto 2003 Barbera d'Asti Fiulot, $12
Rich, overextracted, pruny black fruits, almost syrupy in texture. Some acidity is there but the whole thing is disjointed. Clearly, a victim of the vintage. Better with capellini in tomato sauce than on its own. The next day, it’s a little mellower and more integrated but still too extracted for my taste with blue and black fruits and prunes. Importer: Winebow.
Cruzares 2001 Valdepeñas Tempranillo Crianza Marques de Moral, $6
This might be somewhat corked; the nose has a cardboardy element. Beyond that, there are some light cherry, vanilla and spice aromas and flavors, and it’s fairly smooth. Not great, though. I've had better bottles of this value wine. Importer: Kysela.