Tamar Ridge Tasmania (Australia) Pinot Noir “Devil’s Corner” 2005

Imported by Robert Whale Selections, $15

Pinot noir is hot these days. Whether driven by the success of the movie "Sideways" or simply by fashion's ever fickle winds, this particular grape has become chic. Everyone seems to want it. And at their best, wines made with pinot display a delicacy and finesse that no other reds can match. The problem, though, is that an awful lot of pinot tastes, well, awful. Despite its new-found vogue, this remains a tricky grape to grow and a tricky wine to make. Many renditions now on the market, particularly many hailing from California, display muscle instead of grace. They taste hot and jammy, with a sickly sweet character reminiscent of chewy red candy. To find really good pinot that won't break the proverbial bank you often do better to look elsewhere. This moderately-priced rendition from the island of Tasmania off the southern Australian coast is an excellent example. It's light-bodied, ripe but not sappy, and marked by subtlety rather than sinew. Tasting it serves as a reminder of what pinot noir can accomplish but sadly rarely achieves.