Vinedos de los Vientos 2002 Atlantida Tannat (Uruguay), $8
My first ever bottle from Uruguay. The nose is dominated by herbs, earth and minerals with some berry peeking through. On the palate, there is a mix of red, blue and black berries with lots of earthy herbs and minerals, and a very slight touch of chocolate. It’s medium-bodied. Grainy tannins and moderate acidity give it good structure. Unique and very enjoyable wine that tastes more Old World than New to me. Excellent match with pizza. Great value, worth getting again. Importer: The Country Vintner.
Clos Roche Blanche 2004 Touraine Pif, $11
Amazing nose, almost like a young vibrant Bordeaux, with cedar, graphite, flowers, herbs, smoke, minerals and some plum and berry. On the palate, it tastes darker-fruited than it smells — perhaps a mix of plum, black cherry, blueberry and blackberry — accented by herbs, earth, minerals and a touch of chocolate. Tannic yet very smooth with great acidity. Outstanding wine. Excellent match with pesto. Two days later, the most dominant note, curiously, is Welch’s grape juice, but it’s saved from being vapid by strong minerality, some dark earth and tannic structure. Importer: Louis/Dressner.
Clos du Tue-Boeuf 2003 Cheverny Rouillon, $16.50
Some beety funk on the nose and a little spritz on the palate has me wondering if this might be a bit reduced or a bad bottle. Underneath that, there is some decent cran-strawberry-cherry fruit with some earth. The next day, however, the problematic elements are gone. It’s very pleasant, tasting like it’s majority gamay but with some earthier Pinot notes. Excellent match with a goat cheese/pesto/sweet onion omelette. Importer: Louis/Dressner.
Chateau de la Chaize 2002 Brouilly, $12.30
Very typical cru Beaujolais aromas and flavors with strawberry, some beety elements, nice earth and a few herbs. Very pleasant, smooth, bright acidity. Fine match with a goat cheese salad. Importer: Diageo Chateaux and Estates.
Domaine Alain Paret 1999 St.-Joseph Rochecourbe, $20
Terrific nose dominated by smoke and bacon, with some earth, flowers, oak and berries. On the palate, there is a mix of red and black fruit accented by some earth, herbs, oak and a huge shot of black pepper. It’s still quite tannic, giving it good structure along with decent acidity. The oak is noticeable, more than I’d like, but not too dominant. Excellent match with grilled eggplant/pepper/goat cheese casserole. Importer: Robert Kacher.
Domaine Viret 1999 Cotes-du-Rhone-Villages St.-Maurice Cosmic, $12
This has a complex nose of barnyard, earth, smoke, flowers and herbs. On the palate, there is a good mix of red, blue and black fruits, with lots of earth, herbs and black pepper. Medium- to full-bodied, fairly intense, reasonably smooth, very enjoyable. Excellent match with leftover grilled eggplant/red pepper/goat cheese casserole. Two and then four days later, it’s still very fine. Importer: Louis/Dressner.
Columbia Crest 1996 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $8
Quite pleasant with some herbs, a little dilly oak but not too much (I think Columbia Crest might have increased its oak usage in later vintages), cassis and earth on the nose and palate. Very smooth, mature and balanced with good acidity. Excellent match with marinated grilled chicken breast and evidence that there are at least a few cheap wines that can age.
Couly-Dutheil 2004 Chinon Les Gravieres, $11.80
Not much on the nose at first and the palate is pretty restrained as well. With a little air, some light, bright cherry emerges and along with a strong dose of minerals. Gets better as it goes along. Overall, it stays pretty muted but the minerals are a big plus. It has some tannins and decent acidity, and it comes alive with pesto. Importer: Elite Wine Imports.
Robert Chevillon 2002 Bourgogne Passetoutgrain, $16
Earth, minerals, flowers and strawberry on the nose. On the palate, there is rich strawberry/raspberry fruit with plenty of earth and minerals. Smooth, bright acidity, very enjoyable. Excellent match with leftover marinated grilled chicken breast. Importer: Kermit Lynch.