Couly-Dutheil 2000 Chinon Clos de l'Echo (gift)
This starts out with a super nose of black cherry, flowers, earth and minerals. The palate follows with black cherry, earth, minerals and a little graphite. It has intense fruit combined with wonderful minerality, bright acidity and serious structure, yet it’s also very refreshing. Plenty of tannins remain, suggesting ample aging ability (this is my only bottle so I’ll never know), but they do not detract. It’s an excellent match with leftover sockeye salmon baked in a maple/soy/ginger glaze. The next day and then three more days later, it’s still delightful and even more minerally. Importer: Bercut-Vandervoort, Brisbane, Calif.
Clos du Mont-Olivet 1998 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, $25
Wow. I’ve had four or five CdPs in the past, but this is the first that really smells and tastes the way I’ve heard the appellation described. The nose is incredibly effusive, dominated by dark earth and smoke, with some barnyard accents. On the palate, there is raspberry and maybe black cherry or blackberry fruit, with strong dark earth and smoke. Plenty of tannins are there but it’s fine for drinking now. It’s very complex, definitely on the earthy, rather than garrigue-like side of things, but there's enough acidity for balance and it's not at all oaky. To my tastes, it matches brilliantly with pork chops baked with apples and raisins. Importer: Calvert-Woodley, Washington, D.C.