Chiara Pinot Noir 21

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Here's a fun fact that would surprise most wine lovers -- Germany is the third-largest producer of Pinot Noir worldwide. With 30,000 acres of Pinot Noir, Germany easily outpaces promising Pinot Noir newcomers like Chile and New Zealand. Only the United States (65,000 acres) and France (84,000 acres) have more vineyard space dedicated to Pinot Noir.

Over the years, most of Germany's Pinot Noir has been sold and consumed within the country, with very little making it to export markets. Fortunately for Pinot Noir lovers, that's beginning to change. Germany's distinctly different soil types, a wide range of indigenous Pinot Noir clones, and the warmer temperatures due to global warming have helped produce an explosion of superb-quality and remarkably complex Pinot Noir. I'm happy to report that more is starting to make its way to the States.

Located between the Rhine River and the low-lying Haardt mountain range, the Pfalz is one of western Germany's most noteworthy wine-producing regions. The 45-mile-by-25-mile (75-kilometer-by-40-kilometer) region sits between the Rheinhessen to the north and the French border and Alsace to the south. Vineyards in the Pfalz are responsible for an increasing share of Germany's top-tier Riesling and Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) and also the country's largest amount of Landwein (equivalent to Vin de Pays in France and the Euro-wide IGP) and Deutscher Wein.

German wines are generally less well-known and well-publicized than other countries like France, Italy, or Spain. This is unfortunate because German wines have a lot to offer and can be quite affordable compared to their European counterparts. I've always considered German wines the underdog of the wine world, and Pinot Noir from Germany would have to be regarded as the poster-child wine of that notion.

If you're a Pinot Noir lover like us, keep a sharp eye out for new arrivals from Germany. They're a tremendous value for casual sipping and pair like a dream with a wide variety of foods. Chiara is a prime example of this -- it's a superb value-driven private-label bottling from the Pfalz, done for a stateside importer.

It was love at first sip when we recently tasted Chiara with one of our local suppliers. In your glass, it's bursting with bright cherry and red berry fruit, leading to a palate of ripe red cherry and hints of cranberry. A beautiful balance of fruit and acidity rides all the way through the bright, clean finish. Super-soft but present tannins make this a no-brainer for pairing with poultry, salmon, tuna, and white meats.


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