30 Second Wine Advisor: Pinot Noir ... from Italy? 30 Second Wine Advisor: Pinot Noir ... from Italy?

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Pinot Noir ... from Italy?

I love Pinot Noir, particularly Pinot made in the subtle, light and food-friendly European style.

I also love Italian wines, having cut my vinous teeth on the sunny, made-for-the-table wines of Italy long before I ever dreamed of growing up to become a wine geek.

But when I think of Pinot Noir, I don't usually think of Italian wine; or vice-versa. Pinot's natural home is France, and most enthusiasts would argue that it reaches its peak (of quality and of price) in Burgundy.

Pinot Noir (sometimes rendered on Italian labels as "Pinot Nero") is certainly grown in Italian soil. But it doesn't get much market share in competition with more the traditional Italian varieties such as Nebbiolo or Sangiovese, or the many delicious Italian blends, not least the familiar and favorite Chianti.

Still, Pinot is grown in Italy, especially in the cool, higher-altitude vineyards of the North. And in modern times, reality has tossed out the old, erroneous conventional wisdom that good Pinot can't be made anywhere but Burgundy. When we run across an Italian Pinot as delicious and affordable as today's featured wine from Provincia di Pavia in the Lombardy region, near Milan, there's simply no reason not to stop, look and buy.

Today's Tasting Report

Franz Haas 2009 "Kris" Pavia Pinot Noir ($12.99)


Clear ruby, darker than a rosé but - typical of cool-climate Pinot - on the light side for a red. Good Pinot aromas, too, black cherries and a subtle note of stony minerality, lead into a fresh, flavor of tart black cherries and cranberries. Well balanced at 13% alcohol. Crisp, gentle acidity adds soft tannins in a dry, food-friendly finish. U.S. importer: Winebow Inc., NYC. (April 9, 2011)

FOOD MATCH: This well-balanced, lighter-style Pinot is versatile with a wide range of dishes. I'd gladly pour it with steak, pork chops, veal roast chicken or wild salmon. It's a natural match with mushrooms, and was just about spectacular with a thick, steaming polenta topped with a broiled blanket of local cheese (Kenny's Farmstead St. Jerome) and sauteed mushrooms.

Extremely good buy in the $10 to lower teens, particularly for those who prefer the lighter, subtle style of Pinot.

The Kris Pinot Noir is the second wine listed on producer Franz Haas's English-language Web pages.

Compare prices and find online sources for Kris 2009 Pinot Noir on Wine-Searcher.com.

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